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Daniel Murphy on Billy Bean: “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual”

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Baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion, Billy Bean was the first ballplayer to come out of the closet and declare the fact of his homosexuality after his playing career ended in the 1990s. Last year, Major League Baseball made Bean its “ambassador for inclusion,” with the mission of providing guidance and training related to efforts to support those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community throughout Major League Baseball.

As part of that mission, Bean — like any other number of dignitaries, ambassadors, special instructors, speakers and the like — is visiting with teams this spring. Some teams, such as a the Mets, have asked Bean to actually suit up in uniform during his day with the team. That happened yesterday down in Port St. Lucie.

Mets’ infielder Daniel Murphy’s comments about that happened as well:

“I disagree with his lifestyle,” Murphy said. “I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

 

Murphy went on:

“We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride. I just think that as a believer trying to articulate it in a way that says just because I disagree with the lifestyle doesn’t mean I’m just never going to speak to Billy Bean every time he walks through the door. That’s not love. That’s not love at all.”

There are certainly notes in Murphy’s comments which suggest compassion and which clearly reveal that his feelings are not that of a stereotypical homophobe. Murphy is certainly not going to bash Bean or hurl any epithets at the guy. But there is no escaping the fact that that the terms in which he couches his feelings about all of this are representative of the sort of mindset, whether it’s based in his own Christianity or, coming from another person might be based in something else, which has led to the discrimination, hate and marginalization of homosexuals throughout history.

“Disagreeing” with Bean or anyone else’s homosexuality is nonsensical. It’s not an opinion. It’s not a philosophy, political position, choice or a world view. It’s a fact. It’s part of who Bean is as a person. To say one “disagrees” with Bean’s homosexuality is no more coherent than saying one “disagrees” with Murphy’s left-handedness. Or with Murphy’s heterosexuality for that matter. Who would ever say they “disagreed” with Murphy’s heterosexuality? What would we think of a person who said that?

And then there is the classic “hate the sin, not the sinner” rhetoric. The “I’m trying to surrender aspects of my life to Christ” stuff which — again, while certainly something Murphy sincerely thinks of as admirable and generous — are words often used to describe bad behavior. You hear that about drug use and alcoholism. You hear it from people who commit crimes or who abuse spouses and children but who later find God. It’s a sentiment which I believe Murphy truly thinks of as compassion and love. But it’s also the case that the root of that very stance — that homosexuality is a sin — is what has given society cover to discriminate against homosexuality throughout history and to continue to do that to this day. It’s also what has led to untold amounts of violence and hatred against homosexuals because, well, not all religious thought agrees with Murphy’s views about compassion towards sinners.

There will be a lot of people getting on Murphy’s case today. When they do, there will be a lot of people offering some variation of “hey, it’s just his opinion, man.” Murphy is merely speaking his mind (as we sportswriters all wish more athletes would), and how dare we jump on a guy for merely saying how he feels? A more specific version of that response is to say that Murphy is entitled to his own religious convictions, and that we shouldn’t criticize a guy for them, even if we personally “disagree.”

I reject such a defense. Even if his religion has taught him that homosexuality is wrong, and even if one thinks Murphy has the absolute right, as a citizen, to say what he wants about it (which he certainly does), there is no escaping the fact that such comments are ignorant. That they, however politely put, serve to marginalize a great many people. That they, when taken to their logical extreme, encourage and/or give cover for bigotry and violence and hatred.

Given that Murphy does not appear to have any animus about him in his comments makes it safe to say that he doesn’t necessarily realize that. But the fact that he does not realize that shows you just how essential Billy Bean’s message in his new role — that its important to support LGBT persons in the baseball community — really is.

UPDATE: Bean responds to Murphy’s comments.

The Red Sox’ DH search now includes Pedro Alvarez

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 27:  Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Baltimore Orioles walks back to the dugout after striking out with the bases loaded to end the top of the first inning on August 27, 2016 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.

After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.

According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.

Braves sign Jacob Lindgren to one-year deal

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 29:  Jacob Lindgren #64 of the New York Yankees watches Brett Lawrie #15 of the Oakland Athletics round the bases after he hit a home run in the eighth inning at O.co Coliseum on May 29, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.

Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.

In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.

While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).