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Looking deeper at Luke Scott

Apr 21, 2011, 3:03 PM EDT

Luke Scott deer

Luke Scott caused a stir back in December when, during an interview with Dave Brown of Yahoo!’s Big League Stew, his belief that President Obama wasn’t born in America came out into the open.  This piqued the interest of Amy K. Nelson of ESPN, who spent some time with Orioles’ outfielder Luke Scott this spring. Her story is up today.  After recounting the birther stuff, she makes this observation:

Given all that, the simple assumption is that Scott is a right-wing nut, a borderline racist and a loudmouth redneck ballplayer who should keep his mouth shut. But it’s not that simple. Luke Scott will require a deeper line of thinking.

I think “deeper line of thinking” is the key phrasing here, because I don’t think Luke Scott is misunderstood. Just not fully understood.

Indeed, what we learned about Scott in the aftermath of the birther fiasco and in the early part of Nelson’s article is accurate, as far as it goes. While “nut” is a loaded term (each side of the spectrum has ‘em), Scott is clearly right wing, and he admits that. He’s clearly a loudmouth, as his teammates freely — and amusingly — admit.  Borderline racist? Depends on how you define it, but the fact that Scott needed a handler during the interview to remind him to be careful with how he spoke about race  — and his use of the term “savage” when talking to a black Dominican teammate about his behavior — at least gives one pause.

None of which means that he should keep his mouth shut or that he’s a bad person. Being right wing was, last I checked, still allowed in this country. So too is being ignorant, as Scott’s apparent belief that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. makes clear (he doesn’t back off those statements here).

Am I 100% comfortable with Scott’s views on race? Not really, but I don’t know that he or anyone else should care. He’s not my son’s civics teacher. His teammates and the people close to him don’t have a problem with him. Personally speaking, I  grew up with a lot of people like Scott. Even at its most uncomfortable, the stuff they say and believe doesn’t necessarily come from hate, even if it does reflect real beliefs and even if it is ignorant.

And perhaps the biggest reason Luke Scott doesn’t bother me is revealed in what Orioles’ GM Andy MacPhail says about him:

“I’ve met a lot of people in this game who will say the right thing every time,” he says, “but maybe not act in a manner that is the most laudatory. Luke’s the opposite.”

Luke Scott says and believes crazy stuff. He keeps 114 guns in a small, temporary apartment. I’m guessing only a small segment of the HBT readership would be able to find much political, social or personal common ground with Scott.  The fact that he happens to be a good guy doesn’t change that he’s kind of wacky and the fact that he’s kind of wacky doesn’t change that he’s a good guy. Everyone is more than their political and social beliefs, and no one outside of the most cartoonish fictional villains are good or evil, black or white.

Scott is kind of a knucklehead who I’m not sure I’d invite to dinner. He’s also got a lot more complexity and likability to him than we’d expect based on how some people portrayed him after his comments to Dave Brown.  I guess what I’m saying is that nobody really knows anyone all that well, and just because he put his worst foot forward back in December doesn’t mean it wasn’t a true part of him, nor does it explain everything about him.

The same goes for most people, actually. And it’s kind of sad that we forget that so often.

  1. spindervish - Apr 22, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    So you can be willfully ignorant, hateful, a “borderline racist,” and still be “a good guy”? You make no sense.

    I’m with the reptile – I have no idea if Scott is a racist or a particularly hateful person. I do know that the first three traits I listed above and the last one are mutually exclusive.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Apr 22, 2011 at 10:26 AM

      To be more specific (admittedly I wasn’t 100% clear above) you can be considered a good guy and be liked by your workplace peers, family and friends, which Scott appears to be. You can be that way and not have it affect the world or really matter to anyone else. Is he a “good guy” in some absolute sense? Not by my personal definition of that, but my personal definition of it is beside the point, really, because he’s a baseball player and I’m a fan and it kind of doesn’t matter.

      More broadly, yes, you can be those things and not have it define you totally, even if the good aspects of your personality don’t excuse the bad ones.

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