When he was a teenager, Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb liked to tweet the f-word. Not the one that George Carlin helped make famous, but the homophobic slur.
This is by no means unique. That word's been a favorite of thoughtless, adolescent boys for years, but Newcomb is no longer an adolescent. So when the 25-year-old's tweets were exposed this weekend, he had to respond.
Newcomb's apology said: "I just wanted to apologize for any insensitive material. It was a long time ago, six or seven years ago, saying some stupid stuff with friends. I know I've grown a lot since then. I didn't mean anything by it. It was just something stupid I did a long time ago, and I didn't mean anything by it, for sure."
He wasn't facing this alone. In the nation's capital, Nationals shortstop Trae Turner was dealing with some backlash of his own over these tweets, which were also sent when he was a teenager.
Turner also apologized, saying, "I believe people who know me understand those regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am. But I understand the hurtful nature of such language and am sorry to have brought any negative light to the Nationals organization, myself or the game I love."
If you're wondering why anyone is looking into the old tweets of young baseball players, it's probably because of Josh Hader, the Brewers reliever who was reveled to have a trunk full of old, bad tweets during the All-Star Game earlier this month.
Obviously, Turner and Newcomb should have thought of their own bad tweets and the hateful, alienating ideas contained within them after Hader's story made headlines. There have been others too, including James Gunn, who lost his job directing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 over some old tweets, and Rick and Morty co-creator Dan Harmon who recently apologized over a bad, old joke.
That these incidents didn't set off alarms speaks to just how oblivious they were about their own pasts and how common it's become for young men to use homophobic, misogynistic and racist language.
Keeping young people from glibly tossing around words that hurt people is a big job, but preventing PR disasters like the ones Hader, Turner and Newcomb created is very easy. Every athlete needs to go back and hit the delete button.
Surely at this point teams, agents, and the player's association will get on guys to do just that. And as Cubs hurler Jon Lester, a relative old man at 34, displayed on Twitter, wise teammates are already handing out that same advice.