Toronto Blue Jays reliever Anthony Bass met with Pride Toronto executive director Sherwin Modeste at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday to discuss his actions after supporting anti-2SLGBTQ+ boycotts on social media.
Bass issued a 33-second apology on the field prior to last Tuesday’s contest versus the Milwaukee Brewers, beginning his statement with, "I’ll make this quick." He then returned to the Blue Jays dugout and didn’t take any follow-up questions.
While speaking to The Canadian Press and Sportsnet this week, the 35-year-old said he had a productive one-hour conversation with Modeste and believes he is "in a better place moving forward.”
"He was glad to see that I apologized," Bass said. "He just informed me about the Pride community and a lot of the good things that they're doing to spread awareness and make people feel comfortable with their decisions."
Bass shared an Instagram reel on May 29, which has since been deleted, explaining why people of Christian faith should boycott companies like Target and Bud Light for supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
The struggling Blue Jays hurler was then booed by the home crowd just two days later as he entered from the bullpen. A similar response occurred during this past Monday’s game, as well.
Modeste, however, came away pleased after creating an open dialogue with Bass during their prolonged meeting.
"I think it is a good second step but it is not the end of the journey," Modeste said. "I see this as a continuation of learning and this was something that we agreed on."
Bass said he did some much-needed self-reflection after speaking to Modeste, who provided a new perspective on how his comments may have affected the 2SLGBTQ+ community.
"(We were) talking about how a lot of people obviously are very uncomfortable coming out and making that big decision in their lives and how many people end up taking their lives because of that," Bass said.
"They didn't have that support group to help them get comfortable. So it definitely made me think back on my post and obviously being a public figure, it might not go over well with someone that's trying to feel comfortable in making a decision for their life.
"So for that reason, I definitely apologize, not only to Sherwin, but also knowing that I could have just kept those thoughts and feelings to myself, not knowing that it's a very difficult decision for a lot of people to come out."
The 6-foot-2 righty has deleted several social media apps and intends to stay away from those platforms for the time being. But he is confident this conversation can serve as a learning experience.
If nothing else, he says he plans to be more accepting of others’ beliefs and values — even if they don’t align with his own.
"I have my personal beliefs in my faith and that's what initially drew me to re-post the video that I did," Bass said. "Through this process, speaking with Sherwin, getting the backlash from the majority of people here in Toronto, I just need to be more sensitive in understanding people are free to think and feel the way they want, and not to cause any type of burden or strain on someone that may be trying to make a decision with their life that some people might not be accepting of.
"I think I've learned that being accepting of everyone's views and values and beliefs is important."
Modeste said his main objective was to help Bass realize the full impact of his hateful actions, and he feels their meeting was successful in that regard.
As for what comes next? Pride Toronto's executive director provided the veteran pitcher with a couple of different outlets he could support and offered to act as a bridge to fellow 2SLGBTQ+ organizations.
Most importantly, though, Modeste hopes Bass “will give the same respect to others” that he has for his personal beliefs.
"He took full responsibility for it and said he now has a better understanding of (how) his reposting something (can) have an impact on others' lives," Modeste said.
"So that for me was what I was wanting to get. So I went in, I'm not going to hide, I (wanted) to really hammer home so he can leave that conversation having a better understanding of his power, his privilege and when he screws up, how that can affect others.
"I think that was made very clear and I don't foresee this mistake happening (again) on his part."
The communication lines between Bass and Modeste will remain open, with the two hoping to continue their new “friendship” moving forward.
"I just want to let people know that there is unity there, there's acceptance there," Bass said. "It's like a symbol of acceptance and unity and I thought that was the right thing."
The Blue Jays will host their fourth annual Pride Weekend at Rogers Centre this weekend, with festivities beginning on Friday versus the Minnesota Twins.
Bass, meanwhile, will catch the ceremonial first pitch thrown by leZlie Lee Kam, who has been a prominent leader supporting the 2SLGBTQ+ community for over 45 years. Still, he expects negative reactions to rain down from the crowd whenever he takes the field.
"I would expect more boos," he said. "It's still fresh, it's still pretty new and I think it's going to take some more time than just a week and a half to get the fans hopefully changing those boos into cheers. But I get it.
"I understand where they're coming from. So I'm just going to keep doing my job and hopefully in time things will be better."
On the field, the Dearborn, Michigan, native owns a 4.95 ERA and 4.69 FIP across 22 relief appearances this season, posting 19 strikeouts and nine walks. His struggles have relegated him to low-leverage situations in the Blue Jays' bullpen.
Bass, earning $3 million in 2023, will become eligible for free agency next offseason.