CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians infielder Yu Chang received a series of racist messages after committing a crucial error in his team's 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.
Taking to Twitter on Tuesday morning, Chang, who is Taiwanese, shared screenshots of three racially charged Instagram messages he received following Monday night's loss. The 25-year-old Chang also posted the hashtag #StopAsianHate, which has been used in recent months to bring awareness to a rise in hate crimes and racist behavior toward the Asian community.
"Exercise your freedom of speech in a right way," Chang wrote on Twitter. "I accept all comments, positive or negative but DEFINITELY NOT RACIST ONES. Thank you all and love you all #StopAsianHate."
Chang's error came in the bottom of the ninth inning of the Indians' matchup with the White Sox on Monday night. With one out and runners on first and second, Chang fielded a grounder hit by Nick Williams to appeared destined to result in a double play. Chang's throw to second, however, hit White Sox catcher Yasmani Grandal in the helmet, allowing Nick Madrigal to score for the walk-off win.
Manager Terry Francona spoke with reporters prior to Tuesday's game in Chicago and ripped the "lunacy" and "idiocy" of the commenters. He further went on to defend his player despite the on-field miscue.
"Errors are part of the game, but ignorance and racism? They shouldn't be anywhere," Francona said. "Those comments, they have nothing to do with baseball... It's just an excuse for somebody to be stupid and ignorant."
Having spent time playing second and third base for the Indians in each of the past two seasons, Chang made Cleveland's 2021 Opening Day roster as a utility infielder and has thus far primarily spent time platooning with Jake Bauers at first base. Upon debuting in 2019, Chang became just the 16th Taiwanese player to appear in a Major League game.
Members of Cleveland's Asian American community reacted with disappointment.
"I'm disappointed in the community that still has the nerve to say things like that," said Lisa Wong, President of the OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates of Greater Cleveland. "You'd think that over time, society is supposed to be getting better. We're supposed to be more accepting of each other, we're supposed to be loving to our neighbors. This is our home. Why does this keep happening?" she said.
However, Wong is heartened by the hundreds of fans who offered their support with positive comments under Chang's tweet. One wrote, "No real fan of anyone would go after someone on "your" team like this. No Cleveland fans want to be associated with these people and no Cleveland fans would ever say that."
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On Tuesday's episode of the Locked On Indians Podcast, host Jeff Ellis breaks down the Indians 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Monday night.