Rockies were quick to condemn. So why is at least one Colorado fan still waiting for a public apology from the team?
What’s next? Trading Dinger to the St. Louis Cardinals for five cheaper mascots nobody’s ever heard of?
Changing your mascot’s name to something that doesn’t sound so much like an awful racial epithet whenever it’s screamed on television?
It’s … Rocky, The Spotted Triceratops! It’s … Ricky Rocky! It’s … Dave! Hey, go workshop the thing. Have fun with it.
Ultimately, though, the Rockies’ sin was the same as ours: Presumption.
“The Colorado Rockies are disgusted at the racial slur by a fan directed at the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson during the ninth inning of today’s game,” the team announced on Twitter at 7:34 p.m. Sunday.
The tenor? Right on the money. Disgusted should be the minimum, given the allegation on the table.
But that’s all it was at that point — an allegation. The video from the ninth inning of Sunday’s win over the Miami Marlins didn’t lie. Or did it?
The opening sentence of the team’s initial statement on Sunday, the one that added fuel to the fire, assumes that a disgusting racial slur is what was actually, unequivocally said.
Yes, we heard it once, in shock and disbelief. We played it back again in absolute rage. Then, when we played a third time, we started to wonder.
The Rockies’ Sunday statement even admitted that the jury hadn’t reached a verdict, in the second sentence: “Although the subject was not identified prior to the end of the game, the Rockies are still investigating this incident.”
As well they should’ve. But while that investigation was ongoing, perhaps a better opening salvo to the public would’ve gone like this:
The Colorado Rockies are investigating allegations that a racial slur was directed toward the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson by a fan during the ninth inning of today’s game.
We get it. Far better to err on the side of righteous anger than to remain silent in the face of the shameless and repugnant.
Social media demands judgment first, details later. Immediate feedback is as instructive as it is addicting. Instant, customized news at your fingertips is a gift our ancestors would’ve craved.
But even paradise has downsides. We know more about what we care about, more about our passions and interests — the Broncos, Shakira, Chris Farley, macramé, whatever — than any literate generation before us. We’re all experts on what moves us, what drives us.
We also know less, and care less, about everything outside our little bubble. Which is how politics gets turned into sports, and vice versa.
Red. Blue. The computer doesn’t care. Or differentiate. It’s an algorithm. It can be gamed.
It leaves accountability to the flesh and the blood. It rewards those who say it first and loudest while rarely punishing the first and the wrong.
There’s a fine line between vigilance and hounding. Twitter crossed it ages ago. You wonder if we’ll ever get it back.
The Rockies were right to condemn behavior surmised to be true, in the face of abhorrent, but alleged racial sobriquets.
The problem? They also had to backpedal so fast Monday that Broncos coach Vic Fangio nearly whipped out a stopwatch. Twitter again, this time at 1:10 p.m. Monday.
“After a thorough investigation that included calls, emails and video clips from concerned fans, media and broadcast partners, the Colorado Rockies have concluded that the fan was indeed yelling for Rockies mascot Dinger in hopes of getting his attention for a photo, and there was never any racial slur that occurred.
“The Rockies remain dedicated to providing an inclusive environment for all fans, players and guests at Coors Field, and any fan using derogatory language of any kind will be ejected from Coors Field.”
Amen. No public club apologies in the copy, though.
Not to the fan. Not to his family. Heck, not even to Dinger. Or whatever we’re going to be calling him in 2022.