NBA Center Jason Collins sets the stage, and a wonderful example, for gay athletes

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It’s not a baseball story, but some sports stories are so significant that we’d be remiss in not noting them. This is one of them: veteran NBA center Jason Collins has come out as gay in a wonderful, eloquent and uplifting Sports Illustrated column. You owe it to yourself to read his words on the matter.

NBA Commissioner David Stern has issued a statement of support, as have multiple NBA coaches and players from Doc Rivers to Kobe Bryant on down. There have already been and will be comments from bigots, homophobes and simple, pathetic provocateurs as well. They’ll be discredited, mocked and ultimately pitied in pretty short and overwhelming order if they haven’t already have been. We’re in a very different world now than even a decade ago, thankfully.

Those folks aside, I’m particularly struck by Stern’s use of the world “family” in his statement. While we all know that sports are a business and a quite often ruthless meritocracy, when it comes to the off-the-field and off-the-court human interactions, it makes eminent sense that people within sports, who know what one another are up against all the time in ways that none of us on the outside ever could, treat one another with the decency of a good, loving and strong family.

Today this is a basketball story. In the coming years this story will inevitably play its way out through football, hockey, soccer and baseball as well. When it does, Collins will be the touchstone, and his brave example and honest words will the ones that set the stage for and provide comfort and guidance to other gay athletes seeking to live their lives and play their sports outside of the closet.

Congratulations to Jason Collins for his bravery, his example, his humor and his class.

Brian Dozier, Todd Frazier, and Didi Gregorius say teams should expand protective netting

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Earlier, a young fan was struck by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium and had to be carried out before being taken to a hospital. Fortunately, it seems that the fan is okay.

As usual, when a scary incident such as today’s occurs, players come out in full support of expanding the protective netting at ballparks. Twins second baseman Brian Dozier as well as Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Didi Gregorius all said as much after Wednesday afternoon’s game.

Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis has also been a very vocal proponent of increased netting. For the most part, the players are pretty much all in agreement about the subject. It’s only a vocal minority of fans who seem to think that their ability to snag a random souvenir or have an unimpeded view supersedes the safety of their neighbors.

Video: Giancarlo Stanton hits a laser for his 56th home run

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Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton continued his march towards 60 home runs, hitting No. 56 in Wednesday afternoon’s win against the Mets. The Marlins, leading 7-2 prior to Stanton’s two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth, didn’t need the extra run support but welcomed it all the same. Mets reliever Erik Goeddel tossed a 1-1, 78 MPH curve that caught too much of the plate.

After Wednesday’s action, Stanton is batting .279/.378/.634 with 120 RBI and 116 runs scored along with the 56 dingers in 646 plate appearances. The last player to hit at least 56 home runs in a season was Ryan Howard (58) in 2006. Stanton’s is the 19th player-season of at least 56 homers.