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Max Kepler and the Cost of Silence


Like many of you, I read Twins Daily for its baseball content. However, I am very impressed and thankful that Nick Nelson posted this thoughtful article. For all of the commentators posting some version of "shut up and dribble," you need to realize that sports is not played in vacuum. The majority of professional athletes are people of color and are deeply affected by police brutality and white supremacy. White people (I am one) need to have empathy and try to understand the fear and rage that come with the real possibility of being murdered solely based upon your skin color. Having empathy is not (or should not be) political. Kepler's actions lacked this empathy and it is impossible to not to lose respect for him. I have never posted in the comments because they often devolve into hot take style negativity that I don't what to be a part of, however I felt it necessary to do so.

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It's incredibly easy to click "Next Unread Topic" if a given article isn't to one's taste. I don't care much for ice hockey, but if Nick had written an article about Kent Hrbek's experience playing Bloomington Athletic Association hockey, I don't think I'd start threatening to take my reading time elsewhere.

 

Speaking as only one of the moderators, we keep "politics" (broadly construed) out of the normal baseball comment threads because there is no quicker way to drown out the topic than for someone to inject an irrelevant but explosive tangent. Here, the article itself concerns something that normally would be a tangent.

 

Putting aside my moderator role... I'm glad Nick said what he said. "Not into politics" is way too often the way someone says "I will not listen to anyone's grievances." The crocodile tears over the street violence rings hollow* when one pauses to recall that the nation's vice president made a trip to an NFL game for the express purpose of walking back out because some players chose to peacefully take a knee. And anyone who has kept their thoughts to themselves about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Christian Cooper, Ahmaud Arbery, but then feels it necessary to speak up about the injustice of property damage, needs to rethink their priorities in this world. Finally, "Antifa, Antifa, Antifa," is starting to sound like a giant red herring to me - there are people on the other side from them who stand to gain more from fires being set.

 

* I run a side business called "Weak Tea To Hang Your Hat On". Metaphors custom-mixed to your specification!

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To everyone trying to blow this out of the water by crying politics, knock it off. Nick clearly spelled out that this was not about politics, it was about apathy toward civil rights equality, specifically what appeared to be apathy from Max Kepler. You can agree or disagree with Nick's take that Kepler was showing apathy, but unless you actually believe equality for all races should not be a priority, this is not a red vs. blue debate.

This statement is like a "when did you stop beating your wife" statement.  It's a baited trap 

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Nick, thank you for saying something. This is not something that should be ignored. For my part, I was hoping to hear Twins Daily's take if only to get a clear recap of the events.

 

As for Kepler, I think we can ask that he educate himself, and reserve judgment until next time. I'm ok with athletes not jumping into political frays, but he has inadvertently done so. Now he has an opportunity to gain community support, and not be just a guy wearing our favorite uniform.

 

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Nick, you're article almost seems designed to alienate people who disagree with you instead of bringing at least some of them closer to your view. 

 

For instance, you say it is not political but then quote a very liberal political journalist and brother of a very liberal Democrat Governor (if you are having trouble relating to my comment, maybe ask your reaction to an Ann Coulter quote even if you agreed with the quote). 

 

Further, you criticize Max for staying silent immediately after a quote where he condemns racism. He clearly was not silent, if you don't think he said enough, perhaps you should define how many words or how posts are required to pass your standards. 

 

I think about everyone was horrified by the police officer's actions. And I am greatly saddened by the targeting blacks face by police officers every day in this country. On many other topics related to the protest and riots and police in general we may disagree but I think most would say specifically for police brutality that we have to do better. I think there at least some solutions that the vast majority of people will agree with (such as repealing qualified immunity partially or fully).  However to do that, we need to work harder to build bridges instead of pushing people away. 

 

Jeff

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I am beyond uncomfortable with the concept of shaming and calling out specific individual people for what they do not want to do based nearly exclusively on the color of their skin. 

 

Here is the problem; you are not calling out people generally, you are calling out one person specifically. You mention Kepler a dozen times in this article, and leave no doubt about how you feel about him; rather, the reader knows that you want to publicly shame him for being a bad person in this regard.  As you state it, there is no moral ambiguity here.

 

On top of that, you are not calling him out for what he did do.  In fact, you largely excused him for what he did do (the tweet with the blue lives matter facemask).  Rather, you shamed him repeatedly in this article for what he did NOT do.

 

You only said this because of Kepler's race.  You did not shame Sano for not saying anything (and he has not).  They are both young budding players from a different country.  They both have a large audience both home and abroad, and are both wealthy and successful.  The only difference is that one is white.  You want Kepler to speak because he is white.  You (seemingly) could care less whether or not Sano does because he is not.  You are publicly calling out a person for what they did(n't do) for the apparent sole reason of his race.

 

You did not do this because Kepler regularly is in this domain of politics, race relations, or the like, such that his sudden silence might function as disapproval or approval of what others were saying.  This could not be further from what Kepler's domain is.  This is not equivalent to if the MLB didn't speak on this (as MLB deals with race relations).  This is not equivalent to a politician not dealing with this (as politicians deal with race relations).  This is not even the same as if Baldelli wasn't speaking on this (as Rocco is, in large part, paid to be a spokesperson for the team, and was hired for his ability to reach across a cultural divide).  Kepler was and is employed because of his ability to hit and catch baseballs.  This has nothing to do with what Kepler personally or professionally does.  You are only shaming him for what he is not doing because of the color of his skin.

 

People have all sorts of reasons for not doing things.  I know people that don't like talking about sexual assault because they have been sexually assaulted.  I know people that don't want to talk about anything divisive because they want to be a bastion of emotional stability, and don't want people to have literally no place to look in this day and age that does not stress them out and make them depressed and unhealthy.  I also know that many athletes that don't want to say anything political as they don't feel informed about the geopolitical landscape of a foreign country and don't want to misstep in an accidental way and offend people who like them or the team.  Personally, I do not think that any of these things are a big enough moral failing that they warrant implying that someone is being a bad human for withholding their comments accordingly.  Apparently we disagree on this.

 

In a philosophical sense, I agree that all humans should pay attention to the human plights around them, and I also agree that all of us should do this for each of those around us, not only for those that look like us and think like us but also for those that do not look like us and do not think like us.

 

But I can think of few slopes more slippery than implying that an individual person is being a bad person based on the color of their skin and what they do not feel comfortable doing.  Call for people generally to speak out based on what their human morals feel, rather than turning the other way if their internal moral compass is telling them something.  That's fine and good. However, the minute that we try to force a group of people do what the herd morality wants them to do because of a characteristic of how that person was born (and imply that any person is a lesser and/or worse human if they do not actively do the thing that the herd demands) is the minute that I feel fantastically uncomfortable with the direction in which we are heading. 

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Nick deserves to be called out. He obviously thinks he has life all figured out for not only himself but for everyone else too. Typical leftist. Hopefully he stops using his forum for anything other than baseball. Then readers can ascertain if he has anything interesting or relevant to say. I doubt it because that would take focus on his part.

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Nick, would you like to send you post to the family's of small business owners that have lost their life's savings? Kep was right as 0ver 99 percent of police officers are decent people. To attack the whole for the actions of few is about as ignorant as it gets. I'm sure everyone on this board respects the rights for peaceful protest and yes, I can understand them wanting the police officers are punished. What's crazy is it doesn't matter who you talk to in the country everyone agree's with the protestors that it was a travesty. But now, for you not to call out the organized group of thugs that have come into you city with the sole purpose of social unrest is irresponsible. 

 

I'd highly suggest keeping you political views to yourself or you are going to burn down this valued site and that would be a shame.

 

Sincerely, Craig

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This statement is like a "when did you stop beating your wife" statement.  It's a baited trap 

 

Only if you're suggesting that many people believe that George Floyd's death was an acceptable price to pay to maintain the status quo. In which case people need to own that position instead of trying deflect the conversation to property damage.

 

I really don't believe that there is a significant part of the population that thinks this was acceptable, but I am starting to believe there is a significant part of the population that thinks it was unacceptable but are unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to change it.

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Only if you're suggesting that many people believe that George Floyd's death was an acceptable price to pay to maintain the status quo. In which case people need to own that position instead of trying deflect the conversation to property damage.

 

I really don't believe that there is a significant part of the population that thinks this was acceptable, but I am starting to believe there is a significant part of the population that thinks it was unacceptable but are unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to change it.

 

And let me guess, those "sacrifices" happen to be spelled out precisely in the platform of the Democratic Socialists of America.

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And let me guess, those "sacrifices" happen to be spelled out precisely in the platform of the Democratic Socialists of America.

The Democratic Party has a pretty lousy track record on this issue, too.

 

Say it again, class:

 

This doesn’t have to be partisan unless I make it partisan!

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The Democratic Party has a pretty lousy track record on this issue, too.

Say it again, class:

This doesn’t have to be partisan unless I make it partisan!

 

I meant the actual DSA, not the Democratic Party. 

 

You should learn the difference between "partisan" and "political."

 

MANY things are political that are not really "partisan."

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And let me guess, those "sacrifices" happen to be spelled out precisely in the platform of the Democratic Socialists of America.

 

Not necessarily, I haven't read their manifesto so I couldn't really say. But I would find it disappointing if people think socialism is a worse sin than racial inequality.

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Not necessarily, I haven't read their manifesto so I couldn't really say. But I would find it disappointing if people think socialism is a worse sin than racial inequality.

 

So let me get this straight - this issue isn't political, it's just that to resolve it we all need to embrace socialism?

 

Just want to make sure I understand. If you are going to criticize people like Kepler for not speaking out, don't repeat the mistake by hiding what you really mean.

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This does seem to belong better in the off topic thread. My biggest takeaway is we lack empathy for others, especially those we disagree with. We presume the other side to be evil simply because we don't agree. Unfortunately, this article bears that out to me. At one point I was an avid reader of Aaron Gleeman (quite a ways back). He made a political post at one point we disagreed and he told me he would rather me stop reading his work than disagree. It still bothers me, but when someone tells you who they are you should believe them. I hope that isn't the way we are headed on Twins Daily since this place has been so good at bringing people together and has even been open to other views on the political threads before they became a thing of the past, until this one popped up in the Twins news thread. It's disappointing. Love each other, try to assume positive intent, and always be ready for an act of kindness instead of malice.

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So let me get this straight - this issue isn't political, it's just that to resolve it we all need to embrace socialism?

 

Just want to make sure I understand. If you are going to criticize people like Kepler for not speaking out, don't repeat the mistake by hiding what you really mean.

 

I didn't bring up socialism, that was your suggestion.

 

I also didn't criticize Kepler.

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FWIW, I think Kepler is good if he learned something from this.

 

I despise politics and resent every minute it takes from my life. But I have learned that I ignored it at my own peril, and the peril of those I care about.

 

So I swallow the resentment and try to do what I can to help. I believe that is the responsibility of being a citizen and enjoying the rights and privileges thereof. 

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Nick, I am assuming that you wrote this article with the absolutely best intentions and that is not wrong. There is something rotten in America (and the world) that must change. You and the other owners have stated your position and have every right to do so. You also, as a group, decry the politics discussed. The problem I see is that you made it political. It is impossible to deny that our country is divided along political lines, yet you quote and thus elevate CNN and presenter Cuomo as a beacon of wisdom. Are you not aware of the enmity that they engender among more conservative citizens? If so, please educate yourself on a broader spectrum of our society. What do you think the reactions would have been had you quoted Rush Limbaugh? Cuomo has about the same kind of credibility on the right as Limbaugh has on the left. Again, please do not decry things as political, when you introduced politics into it.

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Nick, YOU created a firestorm. I hope you have learned a lesson from taking your personal moral high ground, You have a Democratic Governor and Major. If they can't solve the problem then it is unsolvable. What is solvable is putting down the insurgency and protecting your fellow Minnesotan's. You live in a very liberal state yet your city burns out of control. In fact, almost all of these cities are run by liberal Democrats. So what's your solution now. Elect Socialists, Communists. Leaders need to be pragmatic. Your leadership gave them an inch and they took a mile. The rioters (not the peaceful protestors) did this. Why aren't you calling them out. And what's wrong with protecting our brave police officers that have risked their lives protecting their communities. This riot ought to give you a glimpse the type of individuals (yes there are many whites rioting along with the blacks) they have to deal with every day in rough neighborhoods. It's not an easy job so when a few rouge cops do something wrong you should focus on the thousands of good cops that are in danger. But your way of thinking makes it taboo to do so. That's what's wrong with the country. It's the political corrects in lue of common sense that is causing the problem. Elect a strong Governor and Mayor or they might come to your neighborhood and burn down your house as well. 

 

Okay, I'm done. Thing I will stop reading the Twins Daily until baseball season but if you ever inflame this forum again I'm done with it ...

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"What really grinds on me is that first follow-up message. "Not into politics [peace sign].""

 

That always irritates me too. Don't pay attention to politics? OK, the rest of us will pick up the slack for you. Sick of slackers who are "not into politics."

 

Grow up, Kepler, past time to consider becoming an adult.

 

Thanks for speaking out Nick.

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Requesting that our leaders put the need for racial equality at the top of their priority list instead of somewhere in the middle? And actually do it, not just give it lip service?

 

That doesn't mean anything. For one thing, there is no objective definition of "racial equality." For another thing, everyone says their preferred system is best to tackle racial and other forms of inequality. Pure libertarians say abolishing all government would do the trick. Far leftists say a Cuba-like system is the best way.

 

Let's say that someone agrees with Nick's regurgitation of what tens of thousands of more influential people have already said. What then? Nick doesn't even attempt to address that. You did so very vaguely and can't back it up in a meaningful way. What is the point?

 

Let's face it, the TD post was virtue-signaling, and nothing more. It was not intended to actually make anything better, or if it was, it was very poorly thought out.

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Thank you Nick, for writing on this subject.   The history of sports is inalienable from the history of politics and race.   With regard to this moment, basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabar explained in the LA Times:  "African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in.”'   Athletes and sports writers who are helping to let the sun in deserve respect, not condemnation.   

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As a moderator, I'll note that we've had political discussions shut down for quite some time due to the contentious nature. Unfortunately, given the world events at the moment this has crossed into baseball whether we like it or not, so I'm going to simply ask that we try and be respectful. 

 

We've always had a position here about being respectful to each other when it comes to our posts. We need that now more than ever. You don't have to agree with Nick, but I am going to ask that it be done respectfully. That also goes for those who agree with Nick. There's no reason to be referring to anyone's posts as pathetic. Nor is there a reason to be telling others to grow up. I think we can all try and do a bit better job in this area. Our nation is hurting right now. Changes need to happen and people need to heal. Let's keep that in mind as we discuss this, and if we cannot be respectful, perhaps read something else. 

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Thank you Nick, for writing on this subject. The history of sports is inalienable from the history of politics and race. With regard to this moment, basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabar explained in the LA Times: "African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in.”' Athletes and sports writers who are helping to let the sun in deserve respect, not condemnation.

One of the most important civil rights moments in the history of this country was when a black man stepped onto a baseball diamond wearing Dodger blue. Racial equality and baseball have a storied history, both good and bad.
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Let's face it, the TD post was virtue-signaling, and nothing more. It was not intended to actually make anything better, or if it was, it was very poorly thought out.

 

This is one of the biggest Minnesota news stories of my lifetime (born 1978). Max Kepler put on a Blue Lives Matter mask and made national news. He then made a pithy, half-hearted apology. While I do understand that he is a very young man and was raised in Germany, he is still a public figure and a Twins player. How could a Twins website not cover it? 

 

As far as solutions are concerned, would you want Nick Nelson to cite studies about the value of mandatory police training in de-escalation techniques, awareness of white privilege and policy changes regarding the demilitarization of police (should our tax money pay for local police to have tanks and military weapons?) and immediate suspension of officers accused of policy brutality (Chauvin had 17 such accusations)?All of these measures have and are being studied and are working where they are being implemented. Do they belong in an article about Max Kepler? I'm not so sure. It certainly would have been a lot longer. Would the "shut up and dribble" crowd have read it? I have my doubts.

 

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Let's say that someone agrees with Nick's regurgitation of what tens of thousands of more influential people have already said. What then? Nick doesn't even attempt to address that. You did so very vaguely and can't back it up in a meaningful way. What is the point?

 

 

I did leave it vague intentionally so as to keep politics out as best as possible. I presume Nick Nelson was trying to do the same. To remain vague but a bit more descriptive, if people want this to change, they are going to need to stop sending people to Washington they know will not prioritize this. This is the sacrifice I refer to. Neither party is immune to giving lip service and no substance to this topic.

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