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By bungling Anthony Bass mess, Blue Jays taking shine off Pride Weekend

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Anthony Bass is sorry.

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He’s sorry for causing a distraction to his team.

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Sorry, as well, for how he employed social media in creating that distraction.

And by the end of Pride Weekend — normally a cause for celebration but now spiralling towards disaster for the Blue Jays — perhaps he will be feeling worse if a recent incident in which the relief pitcher shared hateful anti-LGBTQ+ continues to blow up in the team’s face.

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But in getting his message out (after having it mightily bungled by the Jays), Bass made one thing clear on Thursday: He remains firm in his Christian beliefs that he clearly sees as being in conflict with the festivities that await during home games at the Rogers Centre on Friday and Saturday.

“Moving forward, I’ll know better than to post my personal beliefs on my social media platforms,” Bass said in the Jays dugout prior to his team’s game against the Houston Astros.

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“The video (which he shared on his now retired Instagram account) itself, obviously I took it down. I felt it was too much of a distraction. But I stand by my personal beliefs and everybody’s entitled to their personal beliefs.

“Taking it down was the right thing to do and not be a distraction to this team. Our job is to win baseball games and that’s my focus.”

Bass is indeed entitled to his beliefs, just as the team is entitled to its Pride Weekend celebration, one in which the Jays organization wonderfully devotes considerable resources and typically is incredibly well received by the city and its fan base.

But the mess created by Bass —some of which was avoidable — was made considerably worse by the Jays rather bizarre run and hide handling of it through obtuse and elusive commentary from senior team officials. The poorly attempted damage control and spin on Thursday would be comical of the subject wasn’t such an important one, but that doesn’t seem to matter.

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General manager Ross Atkins spoke at length about the controversy on Thursday, his first detailed public commentary following the incident that blew up on a team off day on May 29. He spoke, but didn’t manage to say much to diffuse a situation that has the potential to be a huge distraction over the next couple of days.

Atkins admitted that he was “angry” at the post and that he asked the reliever to take it down. He also repeated what he told the Toronto Sun last week that the “authenticity” of the apology is what saved Bass from team discipline beyond apologizing to his teammates and showing contrition.

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When we asked Atkins on Thursday how concerned he is about the Bass blowup causing a distracting for Pride events on Friday and Saturday, he replied: “It’s worthy. Whatever the distraction, we understand why it’s there.”

Atkins was evasive when asked if there will be added security measures in place in the Jays bullpen area, which is close to fans. Bass was booed heavily in his first appearance since the video aired and less so in his second outing. But with the incident and issues in the spotlight this weekend, it could get ugly at the Rogers Centre.

“I know that we are going to do everything we can to make it as inclusive as possible,” Atkins said, when asked if added security would be in place.

Bass, meanwhile, repeatedly made it clear that he was apologizing for the distraction and potential hurt he caused, but not for his Christian views.

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“I apologized for any harm, hurt I made towards the Pride community,” Bass said. “Those were never my intentions and I stand by that … not being sensitive to what that community goes through, especially when they make such a big decision in their lives. I care for all people and I stand by that.”

“Making that decision of wanting to come out, I can’t imagine it would be an easy one. Being respectful of those that are deciding what they want to do and be more sensitive.”

Bass also made the point that he doesn’t think the video was hateful.

“I do not, that’s why I posted it originally,” Bass said. “When I look back at it, I can see how people would view it that way and that’s why I was apologetic.

“My focus should be on doing my job and being accepting of everyone’s decisions.”

Bass is indeed sorry, and there’s no reason to question the sincerity of that sentiment. The problem is, the aftermath of his actions have the potential to create a sorry mess over a weekend that has the power to be so much more.

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