Story at a glance
- Kevin Mather, president and CEO of the Seattle Mariners, was caught on video criticizing his players’ English and calling one “overpaid.”
- The comments were posted online and denounced by players, fans and the league.
- Mather, who also has a small stake in the team, has resigned.
Not long after a 45-minute video of Seattle Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather insulting his own players' English — among other things — went viral, the team’s Dominican recruit Julio Yamel Rodríguez simply tweeted, "Motivation [devil emoji] [rising chart emoji].”
One day after Mather issued an apology for the comments made to a Bellevue, Wash., Rotary Club earlier this month, he resigned, his comments condemned by the team and the league.
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“We condemn Kevin Mather’s offensive and disrespectful comments about several players. We are proud of the international players who have made baseball better through their outstanding examples of courage and determination, and our global game is far better because of their contributions. His misguided remarks do not represent the values of our game and have no place in our sport,” said the league in a statement.
“Julio Rodríguez has got a personality bigger than all of you combined,” Mather said in the video, which has since been taken down, reported ESPN. “He is loud, his English is not tremendous.”
The minority owner didn't stop there, attacking former pitcher and now coach Hisashi Iwakuma over his English and calling veteran Kyle Seager "overpaid” — prompting a response from his wife.
So should we put our house in Seattle on the market now, orrrrrr?— Julie Seager (@JulieSeager15) February 21, 2021
Rodriguez issued his own response in the form of a meme of Michael Jordan that read, "and I took that personally."
Teammates, journalists and fans all spoke out in support of Rodriguez and vouched for his English — although that wasn’t entirely the point.
@J_RODshow helped my Mom pass her Spanish assignment when she was doing chemotherapy and every time we talk, he asks how she is doing. Also, when he asks, it’s in perfectly spoken English. I’m grateful to have someone like him representing our organization. https://t.co/AwHd73l2oJ— Austin Shenton (@Austin_Shenton) February 22, 2021
“Julio is an incredibly talented young man and we very much look forward to having him in our organization for many years,” said Mariners' chairman and managing partner John Stanton, who will serve as the acting president and CEO and said he intends to speak with players. “I was disappointed in Kevin's comments with respect to Julio, in part because I know how hard Julio has worked on his language skills; I follow him on social media and I enjoy his messages that he delivers.”
After joining the team in 1996, Mather was accused of harassment by two former female employees in 2018 — one year after he became president and CEO. The team reportedly "made amends'' with the employees.
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