Yankees' Sonny Gray becomes fourth MLB player to have offensive Twitter post dredged up

Time to add one more to the list of MLB players who have had an offensive past on social media unearthed and distributed.

New York Yankees right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray briefly suspended his Twitter account on Wednesday after a racist tweet was discovered following a rough start against the Baltimore Orioles. While the tweet in question does not contain a slur like past problematic tweets from MLB players, the content undoubtedly reads as insensitive at best.

The tweet was apparently posted in Sept. 2012, when Gray was a farmhand in the Oakland Athletics system. The @Sir_Peanut account in question is reportedly Rashun Dixon, who was also an A’s minor leaguer at the time. Both the account and tweet Gray was replying to had already been deleted.

Sonny Gray’s reaction to discovery of old tweet

As screencaps of the tweet began to spread, Gray’s Twitter account was briefly deactivated. It was soon reactivated with every single one of his tweets deleted. While Gray’s following of more than 96,000 accounts remains intact, he now follows only three entities: Twitter’s verified account, his agents at McKinnis Sports Management and the MLB Players’ Association.

Gray spoke with reporters after the game and said the tweet was an inside joke between friends, according to Reuters.

Asked about the tweet Wednesday, Gray said, “I’m comfortable with who I am. You can ask anyone in this clubhouse who I am and what I’m about. … If people are trying to dig stuff up, then ask (Dixon). If people are gonna try to question my integrity and question who I am, then so be it, because I know who I am and if you know me, you know who I am.”

While Gray dismissed the tweet as a joke and implied Dixon was OK with the brand of humor, it’s worth remembering this wasn’t a private chat. It was on Twitter, an extremely public forum where Gray effectively releases statements to thousands of people. When you do that with an inside joke that is ostensibly funny to only a specific target, you’re still responsible for the risk of not everyone who sees the joke taking it well.

What makes Sonny Gray’s tweet different than Josh Hader et al.

Gray is now the fourth notable MLB player in the last month to find himself in hot water for offensive tweets. The trend was started when Josh Hader’s litany of slurs went viral during his appearance in the MLB All-Star game. That was soon followed by the Sean Newcomb of the Atlanta Braves and the Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

While the tweets of all three players were reprehensible, they also came with an excuse that many supporters jumped on. All three players, now in their mid-20s, posted the tweets around 2011 and 2012, when they ranged between 17 and 19 years old. A lack of maturity was often cited as the primary reason for why those players’ tweets should be forgiven.

Gray is another case.

Unlike the other three, Gray is currently 28 years old, which would have made him 22 at the time of his tweet. Unless Gray wants to discount his three years of education at Vanderbilt University, the immaturity card really isn’t in play here.

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Sonny Gray through his career
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Sonny Gray through his career
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees reacts in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on August 1, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 25: Oakland Athletics' first round draft pick Sonny Gray poses for the camera prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on July 25, 2011 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Rays 7-5. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 20: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics takes the field prior to the game against the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum on August 20, 2013 in Oakland, California. The Mariners defeated the Athletics 7-4. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 10: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Detroit Tigers at O.co Coliseum on October 10, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 6: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the game against the Seattle Mariners at O.co Coliseum on April 6, 2014 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Mariners 6-3. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 10: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Washington Nationals during the game at O.co Coliseum on Saturday, May 10, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 22: Kyle Blanks #88, Eric Sogard #28, and Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics get ready in the dugout before the game against the Boston Red Sox at O.co Coliseum on Sunday, June 22, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 13: Oakland Athletics starter Sonny Gray #54 delivers a pitch during a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 13, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 28: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics sits in the dugout during the game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at O.co Coliseum on April 28, 2015 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Angels 6-2. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 28: Drew Pomeranz #13, Sean Doolittle #62, Jesse Hahn #32, Kendall Graveman #31, Sonny Gray #54 and Scott Kazmir #26 of the Oakland Athletics watch a video in the clibhouse prior to the game against the New York Yankees at O.co Coliseum on May 28, 2015 in Oakland, California. The Athletics defeated the Yankees 5-4. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 24: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics during the *** inning of a game on May 24, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 12: S tarting pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates with teammates after defeating the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on July 12, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Athletics defeated the Indians 2-0. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 14: American League All-Stars David Price #14 of the Detroit Tigers and Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics hold up the Vanderbilt University 'VU' hand sign prior to the 86th MLB All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park on July 14, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The American League defeated the National League 6-3. Both players are former members of the Vanderbilt Baseball program. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 28: Starting pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a MLB game at Chase Field on August 28, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 16: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics stands in the dugout during the game against the Kansas City Royals at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday, April 16, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 20: Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics follows through on a pitch against the New York Yankees in the first inning at O.co Coliseum on May 20, 2016 in Oakland, California. The Yankees won 8-3. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the second inning of the game on July 6, 2016 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MESA, AZ - FEBRUARY 22: Pitcher Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics poses for a portrait during photo day at HoHoKam Stadium on February 22, 2017 in Mesa, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 09: Oakland fans hold a sign referencing Oakland Athletics pitcher Sonny Gray, who has been drawing interest from other teams ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, before the game against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on July 9, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 4-0. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 01: Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees speaks to the media prior to a game against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on August 1, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 1: Pitcher Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees pitches in an MLB baseball game against the Boston Red Sox on September 1, 2017 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Red Sox won 4-1. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 12: Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 12, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 13: Pitcher Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees reacts in an interleague MLB baseball game against the Washington Nationals on June 13, 2018 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. Nationals won 5-4 . (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 26: Sonny Gray #55 of the New York Yankees celebrates the final out of the third inning after Mike Moustakas #8 of the Kansas City Royals struck out with the bases loaded at Yankee Stadium on July 26, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Gray could be moved from rotation

While Hader was cheered by Brewers fans in his first appearance after the All-Star game, Gray is unlikely to see the same treatment from Yankee Stadium. That’s not because of any moral superiority on the part of fans in the Bronx; it’s simply because Josh Hader is good at baseball and Sonny Gray, presently, is not.

Gray yielded eight hits and seven earned runs over the course of 2.2 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, who recently completed a fire sale at the trade deadline. That line bumped his ERA this season up to 5.56, a level of performance that apparently has manager Aaron Boone considering a shakeup in the rotation.

Former starter Lance Lynn, who was acquired in a trade with the Twins, came out of the bullpen to relieve Gray and fired 4.1 scoreless innings. That could make him the top candidate to take Gray’s rotation spot.

Sonny Gray’s other unfortunate tweet

While Gray obviously had a rough day both on and off the field, he was still perplexedly smiling for at least one moment.

That might just be a nervous reaction to a tough day on the mound, but another tweet of Gray’s turned it into prophetic comedy.

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