This past week, controversy involving Doosan’s Jorge Cantu hit the Korean baseball world. Jorge Cantu is active on Twitter and re-tweeted an offensive tweet. Whether the re-tweet was intentional or not (Cantu says it was an accidental re-tweet), both the Doosan Bears and Cantu have apologized via Twitter and also in a press conference saying that he is sorry. During that press conference, Cantu revealed that he received a message that threatened his wife and basically said ‘I will rape your wife in front of Korean people’ (한국 사람들이 보는 앞에서 너의 아내를 강간하겠다).
Here are a few thoughts that I have on this situation and some past ones that have occurred in the KBO. Intentional or unintentional re-tweeting of the tweet that some in Korea found offensive and unfunny, does not change the fact that it was put out there in the public by a player from the Doosan Bears organization. While Cantu did not directly write the tweet, simply by including it on his timeline he is guilty by association by re-tweeting it. Once it became a story within the Korean media, the Bears and Cantu decided to do more than simply issue an apology via press release, they met with the media in person. This is something that I commend the team for doing and is very different than what happened last season during the Kim Tae-kyun and Shane Youman incident and Liz and the comic strip incident (Hanwha simply issued an apology for Kim via press release and comic strip author apologized on Facebook). Doosan and Cantu have now set the bar a bit higher for teams and companies to follow if something similar unfortunately happens again, whether the offending party is a foreign or Korean player.
While I personally didn’t take as much offense to the photo as some others have (Note: Growing up in a primarily Caucasian community and being one of the only Korean-looking people around, I have heard similar comments, jokes, and way more offensive things than the picture involved and thus either find the humor in something or ignore it), that still doesn’t diminish the fact that someone else may have felt offended. Hopefully the apology by the team and Cantu will help fans (and the media!) to forgive and learn from this situation. It seems like last season, the media moved on quite quickly from the Kim Tae-kyun comments considering it involved the highest paid player in KBO (it seemed like they spent more time focusing on the Jung In-young water incident than the Kim/Youman one).
The thing I did find offensive are the alleged comments from a netizen to Cantu about his wife. If true, it’s quite disgusting, sickening and cowardly that an anonymous user could wish that upon someone’s spouse. No matter how wronged or offended this netizen may have felt, does saying such an outlandish remark help the situation? No it does not, two wrongs do not make a right. Some netizens (users of the internet) in Korea have said some outrageous things to athletes in the past and this is another example of that. (some past examples of netizen abuse include threats to Apolo Ohno and more recently Elise Christie during the Sochi Olympics) While a majority of netizens in Korea do not say or do such things, it’s sad that the only ones I hear about are the abusive ones. Let’s hope that in the future, netizens in Korea and across the world become a bit more constructive and positive toward a fellow human being (and that pro athletes become more careful on social networking sites).
[Note] Before his first at-bat during May 23rd's game, Jorge Cantu removed his helmet and bowed 90-degrees to the fans as an apology.
-Dan of MyKBO