The Colorado Rockies organization has rescinded their accusation that a fan attending Sunday's game with the Miami Marlins hurled a racial epithet at one of Miami's black players.
What is the background?
The Rockies released a statement Sunday night condemning a fan who purportedly screamed a racial slur at Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson, who is black.
The Rockies organization released the statement, despite acknowledging they were still investigating the alleged incident of racism and did not yet have all of the facts.
The statement said:
The Colorado Rockies are disgusted at the racial slur by a fan directed at the Marlins' Lewis Brinson during the ninth inning of today's game. Although the subject was not identified prior to the end of the game, the Rockies are still investigating this incident. The Rockies have zero tolerance for any form of racism or discrimination, and any fan using derogatory language of any kind will be ejected and banned from Coors Field.
The purported incident was enflamed by social media users, like USA Today baseball columnist Bob Nightengale. Despite not having all the facts, Nightengale urged his more than 280,000 Twitter followers to "find" the man accused of yelling a racial slur and to "put him in jail without the right to ever attend a sporting event."
Even the Major League Baseball Players Association condemned the "abhorrent racism animus displayed."
But what actually happened?
Less than 24 hours later, the Colorado Rockies released a statement acknowledging that, in fact, there was no incident of racism.
Instead, video evidence proved the fan in question was yelling at the Rockies' mascot, whose name is "Dinger."
"After a thorough investigation that included calls, emails and video clips from concerned fans, media and broadcast partners, the Colorado Rockies have concluded that the fan was indeed yelling for Rockies mascot Dinger in hopes of getting his attention for a photo, and there was never any racial slur that occurred," the Rockies said.
The team added, "The Rockies remain dedicated to providing an inclusive environment for all fans, players and guests at Coors Field, and any fan using derogatory language of any kind will be ejected from Coors Field."
As ESPN reported, the fan's shouting did not attract attention from players on the field despite being loud enough that both team's broadcasts picked up his shouts.
Although the Rockies admitted they were wrong, the organization did not offer the unidentified fan an apology.
What did Brinson say?
The Marlins outfielder addressed the media before Monday's game, explaining that he has reviewed footage of the fan and disagrees with the Rockies' conclusion.
"So I watched the video at least 50 times in the past 15-16 hours," Brinson said, the Associated Press reported. "I watched it a lot, especially when I heard that he said Dinger instead of the N-word.'
"I personally — this is again my personal opinion — I personally keep hearing the N-word. It's not that I want to hear it, I never want to hear it. Personally I've never been called that in person to my face on the baseball field, outside the baseball field, ever, so I don't know what my reaction would be if I got called that," he said. "But to now, saying that again, I haven't talked to the Rockies or that fan personally. If that's the case, then I'm sorry for any backlash or anything he's getting right now."
Nightengale responded to the update by saying, "I sincerely apologize for jumping to the wrong conclusion."
However, Nightengale justified his amplification of the purported incident of racism by adding, "Unfortunately, after personally seeing the racism family/friends endure every damn day, it was too easy to believe it happened again."
Still, as TheBlaze's Leon Wolf pointed out, the mea culpas could have been easily avoided. "The idea that, in 2021, a fan could have been yelling the N-word repeatedly loud enough to be picked up by TV cameras and there wouldn't have been a major commotion in the stands/lots of cellphone videos of it is ridiculous. Media should have known better."