March 27, 2019
It’s been a big couple days for people in Major League Baseball’s orbit taking anonymous shots at Philadelphia Phillies players.
On Tuesday, one-third of the league decided in harmony that super rich guy Bryce Harper is the sport’s most overrated player. On Wednesday, an anonymous scout called Odubel Herrera a “f***ing dog” and a clown.
The incendiary quote appeared in Sports Illustrated’s baseball season previews. The previews include the author — in this case, Jon Tayler — looking at each team’s chances in 2019, and then asking an anonymous scout (who are always anonymous, aren’t they?) for some hot takes about the team’s makeup.
When Tayler asked the scout which Phillies player they would never want in their clubhouse, the scout immediately jumped on Herrera, who was on the receiving end of some other negative answers earlier in the preview.
Deadspin captured the full original answer, which Sports Illustrated has already walked back:
“Herrera. I’m an old-school guy who likes guys who run balls out and run off and on the field and are focused on playing the game the right way. He’s the antithesis of Brett Gardner. He’s like a clown. From what I understand, it was a controversial signing internally, because none of their baseball people could stomach him, but Matt Klentak liked him because he’s a likable goofball kid. So they ended up putting the cash in his pocket, and what they’ve gotten out of it is a f****** dog who’s hurt them more than helped them.”
That’s pretty rough. A lot of the messaging in that answer — from the discussion of hustle and effort, to the comparison to a supposedly-superior white baseball player — is your classic thinly-veiled sports world racism.
Sports Illustrated updated the article, presumably after receiving some blowback for running with such a disparaging characterization of Herrera, by sanitizing the quote in a big way:
"Herrera. I'm an old-school guy who likes guys who run balls out and run off and on the field and are focused on playing the game the right way. From what I understand, it was a controversial signing internally. What they've gotten out of it is a [player] who's hurt them more than helped them."
Deciding to use paraphrasing brackets to change “f***ing dog” to “player” sure is a special kind of creative liberty.
Sports Illustrated also added this disclaimer to the top of the preview:
“Editor's Note: This article has been updated; the original version mistakingly included language that may be considered inappropriate or offensive. We regret the error.”
Between two days of league noise about everyday players on the roster, and a weird mini-dustup over media relations, the Phillies probably just want the season to start.