Sometimes as sportswriters we forget the real world exists. Sometimes a silly reference comes off as insensitive without knowing. Hey, we’re sports people; crossover to real life falls outside our insular world.
Sometimes, mistakes happen.
And sometimes you write a headline for a baseball story with the headline “Meet The KKK-illies.”
Bob Vetrone, Jr., a usually fantastic stat guru who writes under the moniker BoopStats, put up the rather unfortunate headline on Sunday morning. I’d make an “oopStats” joke if I wasn’t so damn angry about it.
The error in judgment was first spotted by Tim Lemke and remained live for nearly two hours before Vetrone pulled down the entire post, replacing it with “Meet the Special K Phillies” as the headline.
Vetrone replied on Twitter and in email to our inquiry into who wrote the insensitive headline. His reply indicated he was “doing it half-asleep at my kitchen table this morning … It just never registered in my brain.”
Lindsey Adler, sports reporter at Buzzfeed, maybe put it best:
A mistake, sure, fine. A “K” is shorthand for a strikeout, yes, and the article was about all the Phillies strikeouts. But how can someone not look at that and see how incendiary the headline is once it’s posted? How is Philly.com’s editorial process so lax that this headline even made it past one person?
Is there one person? Anyone?
We reached out to Daily News sports editor Rich Hoffmann via Twitter and Philadelphia Media Network PR manager Amy Buckman via email, who declined to comment at this time.
UPDATE – PMN has sent Billy Penn a statement:
“We apologize for a headline that appeared earlier today on this blog post. The headline was changed quickly. The author’s mistake was careless, not malicious, but it is unacceptable nonetheless.”