The Toronto Blue Jays baseball team have announced they are to drop pitcher Anthony Bass after an anti-LGBTQ+ post he made has caused widespread condemnation.
The 35-year-old was dropped from the Canadian baseball team after three years following the pitcher sharing a video to his Instagram account in May encouraging viewers to boycott Bud Light.
Bud Light boycotts became synonymous with right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry after the beer company organised a sponsorship deal with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Bass’ post, which he later deleted and apologised for, encouraged Christians to boycott the brand, calling it an “evil” and “demonic” force being shoved “into children’s faces”.
Following the near month-long condemnation of Bass, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on Friday (9 June) that the team would drop Bass from its line-up.
In a statement, Atkins explained that the decision was primarily regarding performance on the field, but that “distraction” was also part of it.
“I’m saying we’re trying to build the best possible team we can build and this was a baseball decision to make our team better,” he said.
The move came just hours before the Blue Jays were set to start their first game of Pride Weekend against the Minnesota Twins. Bass was expected to take part in the match.
Anthony Bass apologises for a second time, stands by his ‘personal beliefs’
“We definitely don’t want anyone feeling any hurt,” Atkins said. “We’re focused on the environment. We care about this community. We care about our fans. And I deeply regret if people do feel that way. It certainly was not our intention.”
Shortly after deleting his Instagram post, Bass apologised for the post, recognising that it was “hurtful to the Pride community,” which he said includes “friends” and “close family members”.
In his first on-pitch appearance following the backlash, the player was met with a chorus of boos from fans angered by the situation.
He then reiterated his apology on Thursday (8 June) when he said he stands by his “personal beliefs”.
“But I also mean no harm towards any groups of people,” he said. “And I felt like taking that down the second time was the right thing to do and not being a distraction.
“As a team, our job is to win baseball games. And that’s my focus.”
Bass’ initial call for a Bud Light boycott saw him join such right-wing, anti-LGBTQ+ pundits as self-described theocratic fascist Matt Walsh, who said that the boycott “was about sending a message”, and musician-turned-anti-woke pundit Kid Rock, who filmed himself shooting cans of the beer.