MLB Team Cuts Player After Anti-LGBTQ+ Controversy

Blue Jays pitcher Anthony Bass shared divisive social media post, apologized, then defended it
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2023 7:45 AM CDT
MLB Team Cuts Player After Anti-LGBTQ+ Controversy
Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Anthony Bass gives a statement to media ahead of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Toronto on May 30.   (John Chidley-Hill/The Canadian Press via AP)

On Friday, Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Anthony Bass was set to catch the ceremonial first pitch, thrown by a local LGBTQ+ activist to kick off his team's Pride Weekend, in a matchup against the Minnesota Twins. Instead, the Blue Jays cut Bass from the roster hours before the game, after controversy emerged out of a social media post he'd shared the previous week, as well as his remarks afterward, reports the AP. The eyebrow-raising post Bass had passed along in his Instagram stories had called for a boycott against Target and Bud Light for showing support for the LGBTQ+ community.

In that post, the sale of LGBTQ+ products was described as "evil" and "demonic," per ESPN. The 35-year-old pitcher offered an apology on May 30, the day after sharing the post, noting he was now aware it was "hurtful to the Pride community," per the New York Times. "The ballpark is for everybody," Bass said in a brief statement to the media. "We include all fans at the ballpark, and we want to welcome everybody." He added that he had friends and close family members that were part of the LGBTQ+ community, and that he was tapping into his team's resources to "better educate myself."

The AP notes that he also agreed to meet with the head of Pride Toronto, a local activist group. The controversy seemed to die down somewhat after his statement—until Thursday, when he was asked by a reporter if he thought the social media post was hateful. "I do not," he replied, per MLB. He noted that, in retrospect, "I can see how people would view it that way, and that's why I was apologetic," but he added, "I stand by my personal beliefs. And everyone is entitled to their personal beliefs, right? Also, I mean no harm towards any groups of people."

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On Friday, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins noted it wasn't just Bass' remarks that led the team to make the cut. "There's a myriad of variables, and performance is usually the driving one," Atkins said, per MLB. "Performance was a large aspect of this decision. Distraction was a small part of it and something that we had to factor in." The Blue Jays now have seven days to either trade or waive Bass, who has a 4.95 ERA from 22 relief showings this season. (Read more MLB stories.)

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