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Miami Marlins v Arizona Diamondbacks

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During Sunday’s (Aug. 8) MLB game at Coors Field, fans were treated to a disturbing moment between Florida Marlins outfielder Lewis Brinson and a Colorado Rockies fan. While Brinson was up at-bat in the ninth inning, the fan in question reportedly yelled out the N-word twice, and the man’s voice was so loud that it was picked up by mics throughout the stadium as well as heard by TV viewers. The MLB app has also prevented full replays of last night’s game for the time being, per TMZ, lending credence to the idea that it is currently under review.

The Rockies won the contest, but many people remain unsettled by the incident and are calling for action against the fan. “I’m absolutely disgusted at the language that was picked up by the mics late in the game today,” Marlins announcer Paul Severino tweeted. “The level of hate that was displayed has no place in this world. Unfortunately, it’s still far too prevalent. We need to be better… Awful.” Longtime sports commentator Keith Olbermann said, “Shouting the N-word at a game? Where is the @Rockies statement on how they apprehended the racist and what they did to him? Where is @mlb’s investigation?… [T]hey are responsible for the conduct of their patrons.”

The Rockies later issued a statement saying they were “disgusted at the racial slur by a fan” hurled at Brinson and would look further into the matter. “The Rockies have zero tolerance for any or discrimination,” it continued, and the organization hinted that the offending party might face a lengthy ban from the stadium.

There appears to be an uptick in the number of hostile interactions between sports fans and players this year, especially considering that the world is still managing the aftereffects of the pandemic, a previous year that saw the videotaped death of George Floyd at the hands of police, BLM and Proud Boys protests, and the storming of the Capitol.

Earlier this year, the family of basketball Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant was heckled by racists during Game 5 of the first round of the Western Conference playoff game against the Utah Jazz. Last month, Boston Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo had a baseball thrown at him by a fan during a game versus the New Yankees, and that individual was summarily removed from the arena and received a lifetime ban from all future MLB games.

However, there may be more to the story than was initially perceived. In a very Key & Peele-ish twist, some baseball fans are saying that Brinson was not being called the “n-word” at all. In fact, they say the Colorado Rockies fan was trying to get the attention of the team mascot, Dinger, noting that the fan was not looking at Brinson at all as well as in the direct vicinity of stadium security when he screamed out whatever he said.

For his part, Brinson didn’t seem too fazed during his at-bat, nor has he issued any statement of his own about the incident. So was Brinson the target of public racism, or is this an awkward case of mistaken identity? Should Dinger’s name even be changed, or is this all “just a big misunderstanding”? Watch the video above, and you be the judge.