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Max Kepler and the Cost of Silence

max kepler
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 10:44 PM

Our community is broken. Our country is broken. To not speak up is to be complicit. To shy away from this conversation is to contribute to the widespread apathy and complacency that has brought us to this tragic state.

That's why Max Kepler's actions on social media over the weekend are so bitterly disappointing to me.Our city, and many cities around the nation, have been thrown into turmoil. Long-brewing tensions are at a boiling point in the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, less than five miles away from Target Field.

I was heartened to see Twins manager Rocco Baldelli speak up immediately, tweeting last Wednesday, "George Floyd should be breathing right now. We have a lot of progress to make. A lot. Remember his name. Remember what happened."



Over the weekend, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton shared a heartfelt message on Instagram, accompanied by the image of a memorial for George Floyd. "It’s unbearable to even think about what’s happening in our city and throughout the country, but things have to CHANGE," Buxton pleaded. "African Americans have been slaughtered left and right for nothing more than the color of our skin. That is reality and it has been ignored far too long."

Download attachment: buxtoninstagram.png

I can't help but wonder how Buxton feels about seeing the comparatively tone-deaf remarks from Kepler, who has long played alongside him in the Twins outfield.

To recap the events that went down: On Thursday, Kepler shared a picture on Instagram of himself wearing a "Blue Lives Matter" face mask he'd received from some company. Evidently, he got a rush of negative feedback because he quickly deleted the post, adding a follow-up: "wasn't aware of what the mask supported. still not into politics," along with a peace sign emoji.

Download attachment: keplerinstagrammask.jpg

Download attachment: keplerinstagramfollow.jpeg

Now, let me preface what I'm going to say here by being as clear as possible: I don't think Kepler had any malicious intent. Based on every interaction I've had with him, and every story I've heard from others, he's a genuinely good-hearted person. I can certainly believe he was unaware of what the mask represented, given the cultural disconnect from growing up in Germany. And I believe he means what he wrote in a later message: "Racism has no place in our world and I do not in any way support the actions that we all witnessed that led to George Floyd’s passing.”

But Max being a good person and actively choosing to stay silent is exactly the problem. What really grinds on me is that first follow-up message. "Not into politics [peace sign]." This is the attitude that has gotten our society to this point: comfortable white people choosing to excuse themselves from the conversation, because it doesn't affect them personally. While I know he didn't intend it as such, Kepler's comments come as a slap in the face to a grieving and enraged community where he's supposed to be a leader.

To paraphrase CNN's Chris Cuomo, what's happening right now isn't a political issue. It's a humanity issue. People like Buxton don't have the luxury of categorizing systemic injustice as "politics" and that's why Kepler's remarks, shared while the city of Minneapolis literally burned, landed with a total lack of empathy.

If Kepler wants to stand on the sidelines, defining himself simply as a ballplayer while rejecting any personal stake in the situation, that is his prerogative. But it's precisely what perpetuates a lack of change that is destroying us.

We live in a world now where the lines are blurred; Kepler and the Twins aren't playing baseball due to a global health crisis that has sadly been framed as "political" by some, but is much more fundamental to our civilization and society in general. What we now face here in Minnesota, and across America, is much the same.

I don't know if Kepler will receive this message. But I know, based on the demographics, that our site's audience is predominately white, and relatively affluent. We are the voices needed most in this fight. I say this not to be judgmental, or to point fingers – I myself recognize a serious need to be more outspoken and active in my support and advocacy. Writing this article, despite the backlash it will inevitably receive, is a small step toward that end.

Max: if you want the peace sign you included in your message to be anything more than a meaningless platitude, copping out with a "not into politics" comment is not an option. This isn't politics. This is life. This is the city YOU represent. Take a cue from your manager, who is again showing himself to be a true leader.

We need to confront these issues seriously, not obscure them behind images of a dog fetching a tennis ball. These aren't happy or carefree times. Acting like they are will only make your fanbase lose touch with you. This is coming from one fan who already feels like he has.

We're leaving the comments open on this post. We welcome a respectful and productive conversation around this vital topic. But we also need to look out for our overburdened moderators. If people can't keep things respectful, comments will be shut down.

Thanks for hearing me out y'all.

Click here to view the article
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#2 SQUIRREL

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 10:54 PM

Well said. thanks, Nick.

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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

#3 mlhouse

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Posted 31 May 2020 - 11:45 PM

Pathetic.Compelling people to have group think is the worst possible reaction to this (unless it is to use Chris Cuomo as the source of any idea).

 

The police force protect this nation.The Police Chief of the City of Minneapois is an African American.Is he an evil racist?Several of the commanders of departments are African American?Are they racists?

 

The true fact is, the racial element in these matters are way overblown.Police often overreact to the situation and they should be held accountable. The violence and crime in these areas are beyond your comprehension.It is mostly black on black, minority on minority crimes.This overreaction will hurt these areas and they may never recover just like Detroit, LA, Newark and other cities that have had such levels of riot.

 

Stick to baseball.That is my recommendation for this site.  

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#4 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 12:00 AM

Thanks, Nick. It takes guts to put this out there.
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#5 Nick Nelson

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 12:33 AM

 

Pathetic.Compelling people to have group think is the worst possible reaction to this (unless it is to use Chris Cuomo as the source of any idea).

 

The police force protect this nation.The Police Chief of the City of Minneapois is an African American.Is he an evil racist?Several of the commanders of departments are African American?Are they racists?

I believe they are all very understanding of what's happening. They continue to say so. You been watching the news? Tonight the MPLS chief of police Medaria Arradondo expressly stated that all four officers present at George Floyd's death were culpable. That's been a recurring chant at protests.

 

Your comment was pretty rude but I understand it's a touchy subject. I ask: rather than dwelling on the source, do you disagree with Mr. Cuomo's statement? That this is a humanity issue rather than a political one? Do you see signs at these protests talking about Democrats and Republicans? 

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#6 Twins1964

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 02:19 AM

I believe they are all very understanding of what's happening. They continue to say so. You been watching the news? Tonight the MPLS chief of police Medaria Arradondo expressly stated that all four officers present at George Floyd's death were culpable. That's been a recurring chant at protests.

Your comment was pretty rude but I understand it's a touchy subject. I ask: rather than dwelling on the source, do you disagree with Mr. Cuomo's statement? That this is a humanity issue rather than a political one? Do you see signs at these protests talking about Democrats and Republicans?


Nick
Why Twins Daily allows your political rants is beyond me. Your statement “ our country is broken “ is typical leftist agenda. I am sure the vast majority of Twins fans would much rather leave politics to a different venue. Your calling out Kepler on Twins Daily because he doesn’t meet your standards is pathetic. Twins Daily is not the place to have a political discussion. I for one think using Twins Daily for your posturing is immature and wrong placed.
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#7 pierre75275

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 03:32 AM

Come on now. This is a baseball site the last time I checked. We are continually bombarded by what is going on in the news everytime we turn around. We should have someplace to go to where only one thing matters....baseball. No politics, no religion, no anything. Just baseball. Thats it.
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#8 Sconnie

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 04:38 AM

Well said Nick!

If we sit idly by and say nothing, then how are we any better than those three police officers who watched Derek Chauvin kill a man in cold blood?
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#9 Nine of twelve

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 04:53 AM

On another similar thread there was a moderator's note stating that there exists another forum for discussion of non-baseball-related topics. I humbly suggest that this thread should be moved to that forum.

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#10 Yossarian

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 05:42 AM

I recall a TD article earlier this year that mentioned Fernando Romero's visa problems about which I commented only to be admonished by a mod that TD doesn't do politics.Clearly, TD does when it suits a few.Move this to a politics forum.

 

I'm glad Kepler doesn't do public politics.Social media are putrid places to spend one's time (unless it's limited to baseball, right?)That's one of the incredible number of choices we have in this country.That doesn't mean Max is unfeeling about the loss of life.Let's not confuse politics or political expressions with one's capacity for empathy.

 

Let's also not confuse matters further by ignoring the aftermath.People have a right to protest.No one has a right to damage another's property or take another life in the aftermath of a murder.One may be outraged, but remain respectful.And exercising one's right to be quiet should offend no one.

 

A society gets the government it deserves.I don't live in Minnesota, but make it there once a year to watch a Twins' series, last year with Cleveland.If there was something wrong with the police, mayor, DA, AG or governor last September it wasn't apparent.But, state and local government's response to Floyd's murder has been awful.(And Minnesota's politicians' response to the Covid-19 has been equally pathetic---where's the TD outrage to the fact that ~75% of Minnesota's Covid-19 related deaths have been in its nursing homes?Negligence?Manslaughter?) Fix government by all means, exercise your 1st Amendment rights, but don't use a baseball forum to cast a shadow on a athlete for exercising their right to refrain from making public politic comments.

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#11 R B TATE

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:17 AM

What a diaper load of feel-good political correctness.Always enjoyed this blog, not only because it was about the Minnesota Twins, but it was an escape from the political world. This ruins it. Don't they realize that about half the country disagrees, no matter what your political view are? There are plenty of other social media options if we want to debate politics.

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#12 HrbieFan

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:18 AM

To Nick and the other contributors, please stick to sports. Throwing Max under the bus when you have no means of knowing what he is thinking or means by a social media post is 100% unacceptable. Burning down cities is not acceptable and will only worsen relationships. If you want to shame athletes for social media posts on here, that is your right, but I will not come here to read that. I will not touch the issue on here or any other sports site I follow.
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#13 miracleb

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:32 AM

Idiotic but typical would be my response.There is a Harvard (hardly a conservative bastion) study out showing that blacks are shot LESS by police when you factor out the geographics, etc.(ex: the study considers the fact that more hispanics get shot in hispanic neigborhoods.)This study does not support the "narrative" that cops are out to get black guys.... so you won't hear it on CNN. Now there certainly can be and IS racism exhibited by small populations of ALL races, but what has happened over the last week is directly related to the way the media covers these events.CNN is making huge profits over this event.....which is the reason they continue to fuel the fire. 

 

mlhouse nailed it:

"The true fact is, the racial element in these matters are way overblown.Police often overreact to the situation and they should be held accountable. The violence and crime in these areas are beyond your comprehension.It is mostly black on black, minority on minority crimes.This overreaction will hurt these areas and they may never recover just like Detroit, LA, Newark and other cities that have had such levels of riot."

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#14 Blake

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:47 AM

Well, Twins Daily has had a nice run.

 

I watch baseball, and hang out at Twins Daily, because I get enough political nonsense elsewhere.

 

This isn't needed here, because there is enough politics on other sites throughout the web.

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#15 JDubs

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:48 AM

 

On another similar thread there was a moderator's note stating that there exists another forum for discussion of non-baseball-related topics. I humbly suggest that this thread should be moved to that forum.

Yeah, God forbid you think about the rest of the world for a second. Grow up.

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#16 bighat

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:54 AM

So when I was fresh out of college, I got my first sports writing gig as the Sports Editor at a small, local weekly paper in the horsey suburbs of Orlando, Florida.

 

It was 1999, I was 24 years old and I thought I'd hit the big time. It just so happened that my first week on the job, there was a big MLB dust-up regarding the umpire strike. I was young, watched ESPN all the time, and I figured it would be great for me to write a full-page opinion piece for the paper about this topic. After all, I was a big time sports writer now! I wanted my voice to be heard alongside the big name reporters and networks.

 

As you can probably guess, absolutely nobody who read the local newspaper gave a rat's behind about my opinion. And my publisher chewed me out. Why? Because that was a national story and I was supposed to be reporting on hyper-local topics, like the local swim meets and park board meetings. If our readers wanted to read national news stories, they'd buy the USA Today and turn on the network news.

 

I think you get where I'm going here, Nick: there are a million places we can go online to fight/squabble/preach/complain about the situation going on in Minneapolis and around the country. I'm not saying you don't have a right to voice your opinions here - it's your site, your choice, and in some ways the whole point of this topic is to make yourself heard. That said, we can find other places to go down this wormhole.

 

Most of us come here to talk Twins, to talk baseball. And we are very loyal to this site because we LOVE the Twins discussion topics here. We have a very diverse set of political opinions here, but the cool thing is that we don't get into that on TD. We can all be on the same team - when we fight, it's about Eddie Rosario and where he should hit in the batting order, rather than about political stuff, which can run deep and hit some toxic levels on all sides.

 

Just some food for thought.

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#17 TopGunn#22

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:56 AM

No Nick, our country is NOT broken.No Nick, Max Kepler is NOT a racist.No Nick, Chris Cuomo is a poor example to use.He's the epitome of "do as I say, not as I do."

I don't agree with a single thing your post stated.I much prefer your baseball opinions.You guys at TD opened Pandora's Box with this attack,and make no mistake fellow TD readers, this was an ATTACK on Max Kepler.A better target would have been the far left anarchist group ANTIFA.THEY are who are fueling everything bad up in the Twin Cities and across the country now.The bottom line is that ALL LIVES MATTER.Anything less is an obscenity.  

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#18 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 06:57 AM

Nick
Why Twins Daily allows your political rants is beyond me. Your statement “ our country is broken “ is typical leftist agenda. I am sure the vast majority of Twins fans would much rather leave politics to a different venue. Your calling out Kepler on Twins Daily because he doesn’t meet your standards is pathetic. Twins Daily is not the place to have a political discussion. I for one think using Twins Daily for your posturing is immature and wrong placed.

Twins Daily “lets” Nick post this article because he’s an owner and all the owners stand united on this issue, which is a humanitarian issue that America has failed at for four centuries.

It doesn’t have to be political unless you make it political. I don’t see why facing the problem that we’ve failed black Americans can or should be a left/right issue unless you make it one.
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#19 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 07:03 AM

The comments in this thread so perfectly illustrate why this article was necessary.

The fact that so many of you think it’s acceptable to escape world issues whenever convenient is exactly the point of Nick’s article.

We need to be better than this.
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#20 FritzDahmus

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Posted 01 June 2020 - 07:06 AM

If I want to read or talk politics....I go elsewhere. Get this crap out off this site!

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