Marcus Stroman, the starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, isn’t about to apologise. He will not be silent. And you can bet he isn’t going to hide. Stroman is the most engaged ballplayer on social media, and possibly the most brazen in expressing his emotions.
He’s the one who slams his old team, the New York Mets, for never trying to re-sign him and arguing that owner Steve Cohen needs to clean house in the front office if they’re ever going to win another World Series.
During the 99-day lockout, he dubbed commissioner Rob Manfred a clown, and he feels MLB may be its own greatest enemy, particularly when it comes to marketing its players.
He’s the one who exposes the racist comments, death threats, and hatred towards him simply because of the color of his skin.
They love their sports in Chicago, but the landscape can be galling for Black athletes, coaches, managers and executives. Several of Stroman’s friends have expressed genuine concern about coping with the challenging environment.
Now, his strength and resiliency could be tested more than ever, headed to Chicago as one of the faces of the Cubs’ franchise with a three-year, $71 million contract. Chicago is an enchanting city but it is also ranked as the fourth-most segregated city in the country, according to the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, the mayor’s office declaring racism a public health crisis in 2021.
“I’ve heard about it, but I’m ready for it, I’m prepared,” Stroman told USA TODAY Sports in a wide-ranging, 40-minute interview. “Obviously, racism is something that very, much exists in society today. It’s very profound. My DMs are filled with very, very, very, very aggressive racist men that are filled with hate. I was getting it bad in New York.
“I’ve learned to cope with the death threats and people saying, ‘If I see you out, I’m going to kill you.’ There are people sitting at home who have miserable lives, spewing hate onto (you) for no reason because it can get to you and it can affect you.”
Stroman, who has a personal therapist and mental health coach, recently exchanged messages with former 21-year MLB veteran LaTroy Hawkins. Hawkins, who grew up in nearby Gary, Indiana, was barraged with hate mail and death threats during his 1 ½ years with the Cubs. “He understands what he’s dealing with, and how people may react,” said Hawkins, Stroman’s teammate in 2015 with the Toronto Blue Jays. “They might tell him he’s a Black man with a big mouth. They’ll want him to just shut up and play ball.
“But if that city is going to pick on a minority, they’ve got the wrong guy. Stroman is not going to back down from a fight, especially to a bigot and racist. He’ll speak his mind, and doesn’t care what people say.”
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