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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. Professor Longnose - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    We don’t have to come to a deep understanding of Luke Scott to know that when someone spouts racist garbage, we should stand up and call it racist garbage.

  2. bobwsc - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    why not invite him to dinner? he’d probably show up with some a nice venison loin.

  3. Panda Claus - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    I prefer for Luke to hit one or two HRs tonight. Listening to him talk about baseball after a win is something I’d rather be focusing on.

  4. sayheykidwschamp - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    I’m sure there are a lot of ‘nice guys’ who needed deeper inspection to get to the truth. Like, slave owners, or people who fought against civil rights and still fight against civil rights, like secessionists, and on and on. I’m sure within their definition of society, they were fine upstanding citizens.

    But like so many people said about Bonds, they hate him because he was a jerk. Does the opposite apply here. We ignore his racist, ignorant, birther, 2nd amender comments…because he was a ‘nice guy’.

    Is that the kind of closer inspection you were seeking?

    Or when is an apartment full of weapons a sane action? But yea, let’s have him over to dinner.

  5. oldnumero7 - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:23 PM

    That t-shirt is tremendous, Mike Leake would very much like to borrow it.

    • pellypell - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:40 PM

      He would borrow it, but he wouldn’t know the proper way to return it. So, is it really borrowing?

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:10 PM

        Yes, it is really borrowing, because he’d give it back. That which he returns it for, on the other hand, is not borrowed—it’s stolen.

  6. spudchukar - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

  7. drmonkeyarmy - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    Being a racist makes somebody a bad person.

  8. The Common Man/ - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    In any other industry, Luke Scott is a lawsuit waiting to happen and would have left a string of firings in his wake. Just because his teammates are paid to look the other way doesn’t mean they like him or what he has to say, particularly those like Felix Pie (who Scott tells he is “acting like an animal…acting like a savage) who have a great deal to lose by rocking the boat.

    Luke Scott seems, to me, to be a racist and a bully who uses the excuse that he’s “real” to get away with being a complete ass. He’s welcome to say what he wants, but someone who thinks racist thoughts and says racist things is a racist. Not only would I not invite him to dinner, I would not invite him anywhere near any company I owned or operated lest he start dropping his “truth” all over my customers and my bottom line.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:38 PM

      Echoing this. I don’t get how she glossed over the “throwing the plantains” at Pie because he was acting like savage bit. If I were an Oriole’s teammate, I’d want to beat the piss out of Scott for doing that, and I’m about as white as they make them.

      Also loved your comment vis a vis the forefathers on twitter. Unless Scott is hoping for a return back to an aristocratic, white only landowner power group in the US, he should stop invoking the “forefathers” and how things were meant to be.

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    • aarcraft - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:13 PM

      Who are you to tell Pie what he should be offended by? You assume he is offended, and just does not want to rock the boat, despite the fact that he openly denies that he is offended. Bottom line, the comments are not directed towards you, and you have no right to tell someone else how they should take comments from a friend. I think it is telling that Quintero, who has no reason to speak kindly of Scott, also defends him. More than what you say, its how you treat people that determines whether you are a racist. I know people who would never dream of saying anything remotely like what Scott says to Pie, but would also never dream of having the kind of close relationship they have. Who is more racist?

      • aarcraft - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:24 PM

        Its very fun to see the thumbs downs racking up. “I disagree – I will express my disagreement by clicking this button.” Point made.

    • Gary - Apr 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

      I love Luke Scott. Anybody so willing to piss off the commie lib mediots is awesome.

  9. boxchain - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    At least he has his entire family looking after the 114 guns so he doesn’t have to worry about someone breaking in while he’s on a road trip

  10. pmcenroe - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    hunting for grapefruit? what the hell is that?

    • Old Gator - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:39 PM

      Grapefruit are clever. Some measure higher IQs than conservatives. If dropped, they roll – that’s a maneuver that confuses many right wingers, too. And they’re round. They blend in easily with baseballs, bowling balls, ball bearings, winter scene paperweights. Tea Party types have trouble telling them apart. If you’re an experienced hunter, you don’t want to fire at a grapefruit unless you’re completely sure it’s a grapefruit. You might hit a fat little kid instead.

  11. jamie54 - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    “Scott is kind of a knucklehead who I’m not sure I’d invite to dinner. ” Well then, I feel better in saying that I’d never invite this ‘knucklehead’ to dinner. With those beliefs and an armory in a small apartment, baseball player or not this guy is a wing nut waiting for something to happen and it’s not going to happen at my place. Case closed.

  12. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Luke Scott is already on my 2011 douchenozzle list. That can’t be altered and I have no desire to do so. Unfortunately, I thought the comments were actually made in 2011, but oh well. It’s too late to change the list b/c I etched it on a stone tablet and placed it high up on a mountain.

  13. yankeesfanlen - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    I detest racism,, I abhor the justification people use for harboring firearms, I come across and avoid people on the fringe or the far edge of the political spectrum, and I applaud your take. If I were into social media, I would “un-friend” this guy. Regardless, if he plays baseball to someone’s specifications, life goes on.
    Now, let’s talk about the Yankees. 28.

  14. Jonny 5 - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:49 PM

    I Ummm know a person who also has no filter between brain and mouth. Sometimes things are said by this person that don’t look particularly favorable for them if it were told to the world. But it was not meant to disparage after all. I think Luke Scott has a problem with his brain to vocals filtration system, similar to this person I know. This person is also “not all there” at times, which I feel Scott also could have in common with this person I know. I would bet money that Scott has a great relationship with the various races of men he works with, and I’d bet that they all laugh at the notion he’s a racist. Until people that actually KNOW Luke Scott say anything to this effect it’s basically BS. That’s how I see it.

    Craig, your take on this situation surprised me actually. I guess I must have perceived YOU differently which goes to show you may just have made an accurate point about Luke. It’s far to easy to assume you know a person from a few blurbs and quotes, but you really don’t. I wish people wouldn’t be so darned sure about how others feel when they don’t even know them really.

    • jamie54 - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:47 PM

      OK then. “I wish people wouldn’t be so darned sure about how others feel when they don’t even know them really.” What a clear, level-headed thing to say! Oh, I don’t know you. Nevermind.

  15. ThatGuy - Apr 21, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    I don’t get why such a big deal gets made over owning guns, I own guns. Lots of them, nowhere near 114 but I don’t have an MLB salary either. I carry legally in places i’m allowed to, and don’t where I am not allowed to. I have a loaded gun on each floor of my house. I really don’t see why people make such a big deal about it, its not uncommon.

    • Ryan Lansing - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:46 PM

      Guns are fun to shoot under the right circumstances,. and although I’m not an avid hunter, I’ve done it and I don’t have a problem with other people doing it. But even the most dedicated big-game hunter doesn’t need more than 4-5 guns tops. As far as “self defense”, all of the statistics show that you are far, far more likely to accidentally shoot yourself or someone you don’t want to shoot than you are to use your gun to prevent a crime.

  16. Loren - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:10 PM

    Between Amy’s story and this post I think I’ve read more level headed reasonableness on the internet today than I will for the rest of the year.

    • cur68 - Apr 21, 2011 at 5:49 PM

      I agree Loren. Its really rather nice. The kind of ironic thing is that the level headed reasonable people are arguing with one another a bit. Most of these people actually agree that there’s probably more than meets the eye Between Pie and Scott, none of them really condone racism and they agree that Scott’s a bit of a nut. They seem to be arguing about “how nutty” and if he’s unforgivably so. Reading all of this give me hope for my fellow human. As for Scott; I’ll wait and see on him. His comments seem more to represent a lack of sophistication than any trenchant belief. Its hard to tell with some people till you get to know them.

  17. revolution311 - Apr 21, 2011 at 4:41 PM

    lol. The comments here are funny.

    How was what Luke Scott said even referring to Pie’s color? What if he said the same things about a white person?

    It’s people own inherent racism that would connect the dots. The term savage, the banana chips. They are irrationally designated racist by the public based on societies racism in the past. Just because Luke Scott is now saying and doing those things doesn’t make them inherently racist. All the more so the opposite when the person he is doing them to is considered a close friend.

    The truth is, as Baltimore fans would know, Luke and Pie are actually great friends and Pie has credited Luke for helping turn him around and becoming a part of the clubhouse.

    Calling someone racist when you don’t know the full situation is just as bad as what you think Luke Scott supposedly is. And your ignorance for the situation shows just as much as Luke Scotts comments regarding Obama’s birthplace. What makes you any better?

    • mrfloydpink - Apr 21, 2011 at 5:10 PM

      So, if I describe an African-American as a big-lipped kinky-haired watermelon eating fried chicken loving savage, I’m not being racist? Because the fact that these have all been racial slurs/stereotypes for more than a century has nothing to do with me?

      • revolution311 - Apr 21, 2011 at 5:24 PM

        If you do that to someone you don’t know in a derogatory manner then yes, it’s a racist comment. But your example has nothing to do with Luke Scott’s relationship with Felix Pie and the other players referenced. You example doesn’t take into account a personal relationship among the people referenced.

        When you take what Luke said in context, he wasn’t saying it in a manner meant to be derogatory.

        It looks to me that most people who are calling him racist didn’t even actually read the whole ESPN article. All of the players quoted, all races, admitted he’s a friend and that they give him the same back. And there were plenty of them. I’m sure if he really was racist and somebody felt that way, throughout the years of him playing professional and winter ball we’d have found out about it by now. Somebody wouldn’t hold back. So the excuse that these players are lying to not cause trouble in the clubhouse does not apply. Not to mention that some of the players quoted are not current teammates of his.

        In todays world friends of different races do jokingly call each other names that people would feel are derogatory out of context. This situation is a perfect example. Hell, it happens in movies, especially action and comedy, all of the time.

        You don’t know their relationship. I don’t know it. By the comments written I’d say I have heard more about it than people here and can offer an opinion that’s more relevant. Hell, just by reading the ESPN article alone it doesn’t leave me thinking he’s racist. It leaves me thinking he’s off the wall and a tad loopy.

        The only problem here is that it was written for public viewing where the public really has no way of associating the proper context.

  18. sayheykidwschamp - Apr 21, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    Let’s look at this through the prism of baseball history and fans.

    What day did MLB just celebrate? What number is on every stadium in honor of this legendary player? 42, Jackie Robinson. He had to go through way more than Obama. I wonder what Jackie would say to Luke Scott’s comments. I wonder what Hank Aaron would say? They are probably too humble to go on the attack. Which adds to why they are more than great players, they are great men.

    Baseball, the fans and the teams are all part of history to move race equality forward. Just as these brave players had to endure hell to just play a game…I wonder how much more Obama or any successful black person has to endure to finally live life without society chiming in and saying, “Sorry, you are over stepping the boundaries society has established.”

    So I look at ignorant, uninformed statements by “role models” who play THE sport of baseball that transcended racial barriers and pushed for racial equality, with a little less levity than I would others.

  19. txrangers90 - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:14 PM

    Just wondering if I am the only person that has friends of different races and will make racial jokes with them and they will make jokes about me? Cause that is what it sounds like is going on between Luke and Pie

    • revolution311 - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:16 PM


    • fquaye149 - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:21 PM

      Sure. I bet a lot of people do. I do now and then, and people I’m friends with do it about me. That said, it’d be in pretty bad taste for any one of us to–assuming we were interviewed by a national media source–to joke about what we say to one another in an “ain’t I a stinker fashion.” You’d probably expect some serious backlash there from people you work with and know casually, wouldn’t you? You know that what you and your friends do is with no hard feelings nor any real racial malice, but certainly you wouldn’t broadcast it to the world with very detailed specifics of some pretty objectively offensive stuff and expect people to “get it” nor would you get upset when they found it “not funny” or “offensive” right?

  20. Old Gator - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    I don’t know whether Luke Scott is a racist or not. I do know that he’s a drooling idiot.

  21. mgflolox - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:45 PM

    It becomes clearer to me everyday that a player can be the worst sort of vile being, but as long they are friendly with the writers, they’ll get the benefit of the doubt. The truly unforgivable sin to the media is being rude or uncooperative. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a story about the complexities of someone like Barry Bonds or Albert Belle, as the far as the media goes, they’re just awful human beings.

  22. bigtrav425 - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Sounds liek someone is friends with Luke Scott or his “handler”

  23. bigtrav425 - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:51 PM


  24. spudchukar - Apr 21, 2011 at 7:54 PM

    Depth is the one thing Luke Scott lacks.

  25. superpriebe - Apr 22, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    Some good points here, Craig, but I have to take up some issues:

    “His teammates and the people close to him don’t have a problem with him,” which flies in the face of “…nobody really knows anyone all that well…” The truth is we don’t know whether some of his current/former teammates have a problem with him. Based on what we know about ballplayers in general and Scott in specific, how surprised would anyone be to find out that someone has a problem with him, but has opted to just keep their mouth shut rather than creating the enormous media firestorm one would expect from revealing as much?

    “The fact that he happens to be a good guy doesn’t change that he’s kind of wacky…” I think I lose you about here. Perhaps its a question of semantics, but in this situation, the semantics count. Maybe you’re right that Scott’s awkwardness in discussing race doesn’t come from a place of hate, but in this day and age, acting in a manner that is in many ways consistent with being racist isn’t excusable, especially in an industry with so much public exposure and while being surrounded by handlers who know better. I take issue with calling this ‘wacky’, which strikes me a light quality that could be also be used to describe the guy on the team in charge of making shaving cream pies for shoving in the faces of rookies. I also think there is a difference between being ignorant and being in willful denial of patently indisputable facts just so you can continue espousing an extreme set of political beliefs. This is made worse by the fact that he’s now used his high profile to trumpet these beliefs. ‘Wacky’ is not appropriate here either, as this kind of approach to things in general is a serious character flaw.

    Lastly, if I may, I’ll quibble with calling him a ‘good guy’. Again, how you and I define what a “good guy” is may well be quite different, but I don’t think someone is a good guy just because he has a friendly, approachable manner. He may have a way with social graces, and I’ll blindly assume that he does some excellent charity work, but a person who pursues his beliefs and conducts himself as described here doesn’t qualify as a “good guy” to me. If anything, the opposite is true – by appearing superficially ‘good’, he’s getting a free pass on his numerous and serious objectionable qualities. People like that are amazingly persuasive to the multitudes – just ask Sarah Palin or Michael Moore. To me, substance matters far more than style when it comes to being a good guy. This guy is not good, and the less I see of him, the better. I’m glad he’s not on the team my kids follow, having a regular pulpit in my community.

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