CUMBERLAND — The mistakes of others can be the best lessons in life.
Unfortunately for Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb, he didn’t learn from the mistakes of Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader.
On what should’ve been the best day of his career, after throwing 8 2/3 innings of one-hit baseball against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Newcomb instead had to apologize for racist, sexist, and homophobic, tweets he sent between 2011 and 2012. Newcomb, 25, was an 18-year-old high school student in his hometown of Middleboro, Massachusetts, when he wrote the tweets.
“I want to apologize for any sensitive material,” Newcomb said. “It was a long time ago, six or seven years ago. I was saying some stupid stuff with friends. I know I’ve grown a lot since then. I didn’t mean anything by it. It was something stupid I did a long time ago, and I didn’t mean anything by it for sure.”
One of the racist tweets came from a song called “The Motto” by Drake, featuring Lil Wayne and Tyga. The rest were Newcomb’s lyrical stylings.
The situation is reminiscent of Hader’s tweets becoming public during the All-Star game earlier this month. A lot of athletes and public figures took this as a lesson to clean their accounts. Newcomb didn’t.
“I’ve had Twitter for a while, so there’s a lot of tweets that I hadn’t had time to read them all. In hindsight, I guess I should’ve,” Newcomb said. “My college coach was always on top of us about that kind of stuff, so I didn’t think about looking back further.”
Screenshots of Newcomb’s verbiage filled the Twittersphere while players were leaving the ballpark. Reporters were interviewing Braves’ general manager Alex Anthopoulos about the newly acquired relief pitcher Brad Brach. Anthopoulos gushed about Newcomb’s outing.
“I wanted to get down there. I had only seen one no-hitter, and that was (Justin) Verlander in 2012 when I was with Toronto,” Anthopoulos said. “We were in my office, and there was one out in the ninth, and I told Perry Minasian (assistant GM), we thought he was going to do it.”
Sunday was shaping up to be a fabulous day for the Atlanta Braves. Chipper Jones was inducted into the Hall of Fame in celebration of the team’s past. While he was speaking, the Braves were winning with Newcomb pitching the best game of his career.
Newcomb, in his second year, earned his 10th win of the season as the Braves defeated the Dodgers 4-1 in front of the fourth consecutive sellout crowd at SunTrust Park.
The Braves came into the game on the heels of a four-game losing streak and lost 13 of their previous 18 games. For about 30 minutes, Newcomb’s most significant concern was a 94 mph fastball that was a little high to Chris Taylor, which helped keep the Braves from their first no-hit game since 1994.
Little did Newcomb know what was about to become the main subject.
“I noticed it once I picked up my phone,” Newcomb said. “I wanted to address it immediately.
“This is something that can’t be happening. It was six or seven years ago. I didn’t mean anything by it. I regret it. I’m sorry about it. I learned a lot from it. This won’t happen again.”
Before they were aware of the tweets, both Anthopoulos and Braves manager, Brian Snitker noticed how calm Newcomb was before and during the game.
“That was the most relaxed I’ve ever seen him,” Snitker said. “He could’ve thrown 160 pitches with as relaxed as his delivery was.”
“He was so good and so calm,” Anthopoulos said. “He overcame a rough patch in his last few starts on a day when we needed him to be great. To do what he did against that lineup is impressive.”
Sadly, the day didn’t end on that note. The last vision of Newcomb was him giving an apology that was anything but calm and serene.
“I’m sorry about what I said,” Newcomb said. “I’m sorry if I offended anyone. I will make sure I do better going forward.”