ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Chris Archer has made a name for himself on the mound. And at a time when some athletes work to steer clear of any issue with a tint of controversy for fear it could damage their brand, Archer has used that platform to weigh in on some topical social, political and news events.
He has posted from his @ChrisArcher22 Twitter account on the Charlottesville violence and political unrest in Venezuela. He chipped in on local drama of Bucs star Gerald McCoy's beef with critics.
"It's part of growing in the game. As a two-year player there are certain things that you would do and as a five-year player there are things that you do," Archer said. "Since the day I got traded over you asked me what my favorite book is and I was saying Malcolm X's autobiography. So I've been aware and conscious and a progressive thinker. But I'm definitely more comfortable expressing my thoughts and opinions now certainly."
As you can see from the Charlottesville and Venezuela tweets, Archer has been careful to not make it too hot of a take, acknowledging he is "not well versed enough."
But he is open to learning.
After reading Friday of the Rays' — along with the Lightning, Bucs and football icon Tony Dungy's — donations to remove a Confederate statute from the old Tampa courthouse, Archer said he is interested in contributing. "I don't know exactly the situation, but if all these people are getting behind it must be pretty meaningful they are taking it down."
On another topic of controversy more from the NFL fields, Archer said of sitting during the national anthem "it's not something I've ever considered doing" but he understands the point.
"I do see what they're saying, and I also do understand how people take offense to it," Archer said. "But from what I've read — because I don't know anybody personally whose done it — they're not going against the military, active or in the past, it's current events that are happening right now that they see in their community, just like with everything that happened in Charlottesville.
"We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but in a lot of instances we don't display that. I know that's what they are, I don't know if the right word is protest, but that's what they're sitting for. People are going to try to crush you know matter what, but I don't think it has anything to do with active military."
Archer — who is biracial and grew up in North Carolina — has been reluctant to share too much about his personal political views in part, he says, because of the potential for a future venture into that arena.
"I want human rights to be equal and that's about as much as I can say," Archer said. "I know in some places they are more equal than others, and I want equality across the board."
Archer, 27, said he didn't make a "conscious effort" to become more outspoken as he has similarly shared such views, just that the increase in his profile over the last few years — as a two-time All-Star, doing post-season TV work for ESPN, being labeled one of the new faces of the game — has elevated his platform.
"If I tweet something or I say something to you guys (reporters), I feel like I would have regardless, but it wouldn't have been made as big of a deal probably; not that it was made a big deal," he said.
Other players stay away. Veteran 3B Evan Longoria, who has 367,000 followers, said he likes to use Twitter mainly to promote charitable causes, share photos of his family and tout sponsors (including his Ducky's restaurant).
As for politics and social issues?
"There's no reason," Longoria said. "I have my opinions about it. I've always felt like in any forum if I don't feel like I'm one of the most well-informed in the room about a topic then I'm not in a place to comment. My strong suit is baseball."
With nearly 100,000 Twitter followers (and 109,000 on Instagram), Archer also likes to share motivational and inspirational philosophical messages — the genesis of the Trop scoreboard Archer or Aristotle game — and promotes his charitable work with Good Sports, and occasionally himself, such as retweets of fan photos or, for example, his days-long attention-grabbing antics with mascot Orbit in Houston.
"I see some people talking (on social media) about what kind of shoes they're wearing or what kind of shirt they have on and people love it," Archer said. "For the most part I like to share things that can really help somebody.
"It's weird to say this, but people look at my page for uplifting messages. Sometimes they are quotes from books and sometimes they are my own thoughts. I like to share. Look, we're all dealing with adversity, some more drastic than others, but if we all keep this kind of mindset (it can help). … As much negativity as there is out there in the world, people are looking for some positivity too, and I like to be that."
Archer came face to face with that realization last week in Toronto, when a fan handed him a letter with an interesting request: "I want you to write down one of your most meaningful quotes — either something you think or thought of, or something somebody else thought of that really means something to you — and I want to get it tattooed on my body — in your handwriting."
Archer asked for some time to give it more thought, but considered it was another example of the impact he has learned he can have via his Tweets.
"I do enjoy the platform. If there are 100,000 people who follow and people are now more aware— five, not 5,000 — five are now more aware because of a simple tweet or a re-tweet of an article or whatever, then mission accomplished. Because I want to spread awareness and positivity as much as I can. … I know (the platform) is there, so I'm going to use it for more than, 'Wow, what an amazing game last night.' ''
Some things we think we know
* As long as Tim Beckham continues to star for the Orioles and the Rays overall and Brad Miller individually continue to struggle, there — fairly — will be talk they made a bad trade decision. But there has been some revisionist history suggesting Beckham starred for the Rays, rather than a guy who at 27 finally had some success (.259 average, 12 homers, 36 RBIs, .721 OPS), was still inconsistent in the field and over his last six weeks before the trade hit .173-2-5-.546.
* If the Rays continue to struggle over the next week they might be wise to flip the script and become sellers by Aug. 31, recouping something in trading off pending free agents such as recent acquisitions Steve Cishek and Lucas Duda, and maybe Logan Morrison, Tommy Hunter and even Alex Cobb.
Of the 37 games left, 34 are against teams within three games of a playoff spot. ... With and off-day Monday and Cobb coming back this week, expect some further shuffling with the rotation. ... Having posed in a DJ Kitty onesie promo before being traded to the Mariners, RHP Erasmo Ramirez said he hung on to that souvenir: "I earned it." ... In addition to her music career, Julianna Zobrist, wife of ex-Ray Ben, is featured in a realtor.com commercial. ... Though StatCast recorded Nelson Cruz's Friday homer at a Trop record 482 feet, the ball hit in May by Miami's Marcell Ozuna that struck one of the banners and estimated at 468 sure seemed longer. ... Short-season Hudson Valley's Brian Newman and rookie-level Princeton's Kris Russell were named top trainers in their leagues.
Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays