Josh Hader Is Rob Manfred’s Failure

With the news the Mets may be pursuing Josh Hader, there have been some who have been quite vocal about his comments when he was 17 years old. For those who have forgotten, and it does not seem to be many, Hader had made racist, sexist, and homophobic comments.

The important note here is those comments came when he was a 17 year old high school student. Now, he is a 25 year old man and a two time All-Star. That makes him an older and hopefully more mature person. It also makes him a very visible part of the sport.

Sports Illustrated reported about his remorse, and how he cried while apologizing to his teammates. With this being put out there by the Brewers to report, it is fair to be skeptical as to how apologetic he is and how much it resonated with his teammates. On that note, it’s notable the only Brewers quoted in the article, other than Hader, were Brett Phillips and Craig Counsell, both of whom are white.

For their part, Major League Baseball had assigned Hader to sensitivity training, and they had him speak with Billy Bean, MLB’s vice president for social responsibility and inclusion. On that point, Bean did speak to Hader’s remorse.

It has been approximately a year-and-a-half since those comments surfaced, and people are still bringing it up whenever Hader’s name in mentioned. This is indicative of how Major League Baseball failed to really take advantage of what should have been an opportunity.

Before going further, we should revisit when Hader made those comments. He was a teenager who was a high school student at Old Mills High School in Millersville, Maryland. According to School Digger, this is actually a culturally diverse high school with a white student like Hader being in the plurality. Put another way, we can’t quite say his ignorant comments came from a place of pure ignorance.

From there, he was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 2012 MLB Draft. Notably, this was a year after some of his most offensive comments. During his minor league career in the Orioles, Astros, and Brewers farm systems, he would play for managers like Ramon Sambo, Omar Lopez, and Carlos Subero. That left him answering to and learning from the very people he offended and insulted.

On that 2018 Brewers team, he was teammates with players like Lorenzo Cain, who was not only African America, but a real leader. Not only did Hader get to know him and many other minority players on the team, but he also had to answer to them once his comments became public.

This was baseball’s chance to meet this challenge head-on and show how the sport itself makes players better people, and they completely whiffed.

It’s very possible Hader has grown as a person, and it is possible he has shown real remorse. It’s also very possible he hasn’t. Those tears he was reported to shed could have been remorse, or they could have been fear or being upset he was caught. We don’t know, and baseball has really failed to control that narrative.

This is on Rob Manfred. As the commissioner, he needed to speak about the legacy of Jackie Robinson. He needed to embrace what Hader said, and he needed to speak about how the multi-cultural aspect of baseball has made Hader a more mature, tolerant, and better person. He also needed to have Hader prove it.

Hader should have been a part of the RBI program. He needed to very publicly visit schools, YMCAs, and other places. Essentially, Hader needed to meet with people, speak about how he became a better person and encourage others to be better than he was.

Instead, Major League Baseball tried to sweep this under the rug. As a result, whenever Hader’s name comes up in trade rumors, this is going to arise. When he moves to another team, this will potentially alienate part of the fanbase of his new team. This is not remotely good for baseball.

No, Manfred needed to be a true leader. He needed to make Hader show his remorse and prove he’s a different person. He didn’t do that, and now, we don’t know if Hader is any of those things. Jackie Robinson and his legacy deserve much better than that.

8 Replies to “Josh Hader Is Rob Manfred’s Failure”

  1. Longtimefan1 says:

    This is making hay out of old news.

    Unless Hader has the same beliefs now he had then at 17 – which doesn’t seem to be the case – it’s really time to move on and let this man continue embracing the power of change and growth.

    Undoubtedly there are and will be people who won’t move on and is why Hader’s comments and beliefs as 17 year old are re-surfacing as trade talk heats up.

    Madfred has screwed up lots of things and continues to drag down the game, but I don’t see any lost opportunity here on Manfred’s part. It’s not for him to go out on a limb for a player he likely doesn’t know well enough to stake claim in his growth.

    That stake should come from the Brewer’s, his teammates, friends, family and the Player’s Union who more intimately know him and spend a lot of time around him to be in better position to vouch for his character. I believe in second chances and that people can and do change when committed to that and develop open mind.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      You’re making my point for me. The overriding point was this will continue to be an issue, and that’s a reflection of the very poor leadership Manfred has exhibited.

      1. Longtimefan1 says:

        I don’t think it has anything to do with Manfred. Hader was in high school when it happened. When this story broke several years ago, the onus was on Hader and his team to take stock, to assure said person has changed. Ignorance, bigotry and sexist views are repugnant but not crimes. Those views weren’t propagated under MLB or Manfred’s watch.

        His job and moral obligation isn’t to police non-criminal behavior of players as kids, nor publicly humiliate a player for bigoted thinking a current player had as kid but no longer does. If Hader hasn’t changed, it’s a good bet the baseball world would know it.

        As I recall, Syndergaard also used homophobic language when he was younger and minor leaguer with the Mets. He publicly apologized. Should he be paraded out now, 7 years later by Manfred, ordered to prove he’s changed?

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It has everything to do with Manfred. As the commissioner, he has power to direct narratives and to protect the image of the sport.

          He has the ability to use moments like this and make them teaching moments. He can use these moments and show the world how inclusory baseball is.

          If he does it right, he can show baseball is a power for change for the good. He can show this to be the sport of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente.

          That was the opportunity. Instead, he shows zero leadership and forethought, and now, something from seven years ago will continue to resurface.

  2. LongTimefan1 says:


    I’m all for treating people respectfully and ridding society and MLB of all forms of bigotry and am glad you’re passionate about that. I know what it’s like first hand to be on the receiving end of multiple forms of bigotry.

    But to insinuate the commissioner and MLB aren’t doing that, and needs to show this is the sport of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente is misleading.

    MLB already has zero tolerance for bigotry, racism, homophobia, domestic violence, drug use, etc and addressed the Hader situation when it was revealed in 2018.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      How did MLB show zero tolerance and truly address the Hader situation?

      I honestly don’t recall a Manfred press conference or an announcement of a new initiative.

      I don’t recall Hader to do anything public after the All Star Game.

      Really, when you break it down, MLB largely swept it under the rug. When you do that, stuff resurfaces like it has.

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