WASHINGTON – In the two months since Joey Votto’s controversial comments about Canadian baseball and the apology tour that followed, the Toronto native representing the Cincinnati Reds at this summer’s all-star game has tried his best to leave the mess behind.
As for how his apology was received, the first baseman just isn’t sure.
“It was one of those scenarios where I made a mistake, I tried to make it right and then I can’t do anything more about it,” he said Monday. “People make mistakes, I did the very best I could and after that I can only say so much. I felt fortunate that I was given the opportunity so quickly to at least attempt to make it right, whether it’s through social media or through print or news media. I felt a debt of gratitude to everyone, all of you, to be able to (speak) publicly really quickly and try to make it right.”
Votto found himself in hot water in mid-May when he told the Yahoo! Sports MLB Podcast that he doesn’t “care almost at all about Canadian baseball” and that he “really couldn’t give a rat’s ass” that fellow Canadian James Paxton threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in Toronto.
The tempest in a teapot was ridiculous, as Votto is a strong supporter of Baseball Canada, has local ties to the game at the grassroots level and even sent a signed pair of game-worn cleats to Toronto police officer Ken Lam, who arrested the driver who killed 10 pedestrians with his van on Yonge Street in April.
Still, Votto’s comments quickly went viral, he issued a statement through Hall of Fame baseball writer Bob Elliott’s website, canadianbaseballnetwork.com, and then said sorry a lot, taking full ownership of the mistake instead of trying to rationalize what he said.
“I cringe hearing it because I’m so embarrassed by what I said,” he said then.
The discussion soon ebbed, and the 34-year-old shifted his focus back to the season.
Since then, “I really tried really hard not to hear the good or the bad just because I heard plenty of bad,” Votto said. “The other thing, too, is I play every day, so I couldn’t juggle that, I had to do everything I could to make it right and then move past it. It just happened and I hope that people understood that it was a mistake and I tried to make it right.”
Votto’s sixth all-star selection comes in the midst of another strong season, even though his usual power hasn’t been there. While he leads the National League with a .422 on-base percentage, his slugging percentage is down from .578 last year and his career average of .534 to .442 through his first 95 games.
“I hit 26 home runs before the all-star break last year, I would never have expected that, and I’ve got nine this year and I wouldn’t have expected that,” said Votto. “I’m just going to keep playing and try to become a balanced hitter able to handle most situations.
“We’ll see how that plays out.”