Who says a four-game series on a lazy weekend in late July has to be uneventful? The set between the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers at Sun Trust Park elicited far more material than your average matchup, with the ante only increasing as the weekend progressed.
At the center of the weekend was Atlanta starter Sean Newcomb, a second-year left-hander who made his 39th career start Sunday. Newcomb carved up the Dodgers, dominating the NL West leaders to the tune of 8 2/3 no-hit innings. Newcomb’s shot at history ended when he gave up a groundball single through the left side on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth inning of the Braves’ eventual 4-1 win. But that wasn’t necessarily the most newsworthy part of his day.
Some of the tweets in question are also dated from 2012, meaning Newcomb, who turned 25 last month, was 18 to 19 when he sent them. According to Fox Sports South Braves reporter Kelsey Wingert, Newcomb asked for the clubhouse to be reopened after the media had initially dispersed. Wingert’s Twitter feed contains quotes from Newcomb on the subject:
That this happened less than two weeks after the fiasco involving Hader, in which several of the Milwaukee Brewers reliever’s old racist, misogynistic and homophobic tweets were made public during the All-Star Game at Nationals Park, is fairly stunning. Maybe Newcomb, his agent(s), friends and family or anyone from the Braves organization were either unaware or unconcerned about his feed. At any rate, the Newcomb tweets in question have been deleted, but only after having been dug up.
Both Major League Baseball and the Braves organization released statements on the matter. MLB said that Newcomb will meet with Billy Bean, its vice president for social responsibility and inclusion, saying, “Such inappropriate comments have no place in our game. We are aware of this serious issue, Billy Bean will meet with Mr. Newcomb this week, and we will identify an appropriate course of diversity training in the Atlanta community.”
The Braves referred to Newcomb’s tweets as “hurtful and incredibly disappointing.”
Newcomb’s roller coaster ride of a day came less than 24 hours after Braves broadcasters Joe Simpson and Chip Caray made themselves into a story thanks to a rant from Simpson regarding the Dodgers’ collective choice of batting practice attire. Several L.A. players took BP before Saturday night’s game in T-shirts and without socks, which was such an affront to Simpson’s sensibilities that he said, “If I were a Dodger fan, I’d be embarrassed, and I don’t know how Major League Baseball allows such attire when the gates are open,” and added that the players in question “looked very unprofessional.”
One of the players called out by Simpson, who played for the Dodgers himself in the 1970s, was Chase Utley, whose T-shirt was emblazoned with a “K Cancer” slogan, which pertains to a charity started by former MLB closer Jason Motte. How embarrassing. After the game, Caray engaged on Twitter with a fan who was perplexed by the rant. Because irony is dead, in a tweet that has since been deleted, Caray told the fan to “lighten up.”
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts was displeased in the aftermath, saying, “I take it personally when people question our professionalism,” and adding that he expected an apology. Per MLB.com, Roberts took a cooler stance Sunday, calling the situation “water under the bridge.”
To Simpson’s credit, he reportedly sought out Utley before Sunday’s game and “expressed remorse” about his commentary, per Braves reporter Mark Bowman. The Braves and Dodgers won’t meet again until next season, barring a potential playoff series, and that might be best for everyone.