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Cardinals receive criticism for inviting Lance Berkman to “Christian Day”

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Joe Holleman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have received criticism, including from LGBTQ avocates, for inviting former slugger Lance Berkman to “Christian Day” at Busch Stadium, scheduled for July 30.

In September 2015, Berkman foolishly advocated against public accommodations for transgender people to use public bathrooms. In an ad in which he appeared, Berkman referred to transgender people as “troubled men.” He fearmongered, suggesting that transgender people would violate women’s privacy and lead to violence. However, there have been no documented cases of transgender people attacking people in public restrooms, contrary to what some pundits would have you believe.

Berkman spoke to Craig the next month and said,  “To me, tolerance is the virtue that’s killing this country. We’re tolerant of everything.”

So, Berkman’s track record on LGBTQ issues isn’t exactly sterling. It was no surprise, then, that Pride Center of St. Louis issued a public statement, via OutSports, which read:

Pride St. Louis is disappointed by the decision of the St. Louis Cardinals to provide a public platform for Berkman, an individual whose words and actions towards the LGBTQ+ are divisive and demeaning. We know that the Cardinals can do better, and we want to extend an offer to help them by co-organizing their official LGBT Pride Night at Busch Stadium. Let’s work together to promote love, diversity, and inclusion.

The Cardinals issued a statement of their own, defending their choice to invite Berkman:

The Cardinals have hosted a Christian Day at the ballpark for nearly three decades. Lance Berkman participated in Christian Day when he was a Cardinals player, and we welcome him back this year to discuss his faith.

The Cardinals said they will also host a Pride Night “later this season.” Vice president Ron Watermon said he hopes the night will be scheduled by late August.

It’s one thing to allow two different groups to have their own themed events at the ballpark; it’s another to invite a public figure who actively denounces members of other groups. For a silly hypothetical example, let’s say the Cardinals will also host Cats Night and Dogs Night. Both can peacefully coexist. But if the Dogs invite a figure who’s incredibly anti-Cat and questions the Cats’ right to exist in public, then the Cats don’t feel included and supported even if they’re given their own themed night. The Cardinals are a business, and in going through with inviting Berkman, they are risking alienating the section of their fan base that also intersects with LGBTQ. They have every right to continue to invite Berkman, but fans also have every right to speak with their wallets by not showing up at the ballpark and buying merchandise. Is it worth it? I guess we’ll find out.

Bruce Maxwell is the first MLB player to take a knee during the National Anthem

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Athletics’ rookie catcher Bruce Maxwell did not stand for the National Anthem on Saturday night. He’s the first MLB player to do so and, like other professional athletes before him, used the moment to send a message — not just to shed light on the lack of racial equality in the United States, but to specifically protest President Donald Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire any of their players who elect to protest the anthem by sitting or kneeling.

“Bruce’s father is a proud military lifer. Anyone who knows Bruce or his parents is well aware that the Maxwells’ love and appreciation for our country is indisputable,” Maxwell’s agent, Matt Sosnick, relayed to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser on Friday. He continued:

Bruce has made it clear that he is taking a stand about what he perceives as racial injustices in this country, and his personal disappointment with President Trump’s response to a number of professional athletes’ totally peaceful, non-violent protests.

Bruce has shared with both me and his teammates that his feelings have nothing to do with a lack of patriotism or a hatred of any man, but rather everything to do with equality for men, women and children regardless of race or religion.

While Maxwell didn’t make his own statement to the media, he took to Instagram earlier in the day to express his frustration against the recent opposition to the protests, criticizing the President for endorsing “division of man and rights.”

Despite Trump’s profanity-laced directive to NFL owners on Friday, however, it’s clear the Athletics don’t share his sentiments. “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive,” the team said in a statement released after Maxwell’s demonstration. “We respect and support all of our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”

Whatever the fallout, kudos to Maxwell for taking a stand. He may be the first to do so in this particular arena, but he likely won’t be the last.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

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This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.