Author: Craig Calcaterra

Lance Berkman

Lance Berkman is a spokesman against an LGBT rights law in Houston


SB Nation’s Outsports reports that former Astros first baseman/outfielder Lance Berkman has become a spokesman for a group opposed to a ballot initiative in Houston known as the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. He’s taped commercials attacking the law for providing equal protection for LGBT people.

Which, hey, baseball players skew conservative and conservative people are more likely to oppose LGBT laws than many, so no big deal? Normally yes, but this particular campaign and Berkman’s particular words against the law are pretty damn vile.

The law in question would ensure public accommodations for transgender people to use public bathrooms consistent with their gender identity. As it is now, transgender people frequently face discrimination in this regard and are denied the same access as others to facilities. Many cities have ordinances on the books ensuring such access, but Houston doesn’t. The vote on the ordinance is November 3.

The campaign against the ordinance, however, has chosen to traffic in some of the oldest and most disgusting stereotypes against LGBT people, characterizing them as “troubled men,” equating them with sexual predators and sex offenders and citing the safety of their “mothers, wives and daughters” as a reason for opposing the ordinance. Here is the group’s spokesman:

“Parker’s Bathroom Ordinance would force businesses and public establishments to allow troubled men, or men who want to start trouble, to use women’s public bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities. This endangers women and girls and places them in harm’s way,” Campaign for Houston spokesman Jared Woodfill said in a press release.

“There are 8345 registered and convicted sexual predators in Harris County. This just scratches the surface of this dangerous problem. These men could use this ordinance as a legal shield to threaten our mothers, wives and daughters,” Woodfill added.

Berkman’s ad follows this script exactly, talking about his two daughters and citing the “troubled men” slander.

Such characterizations have been used for decades, hell centuries, to demonize the LGBT community, casting them as sick people and criminals. The opposition here is no different. And conveniently forgets that, as things currently stand:

In reality, the use of “troubled men” and fears for the children are a handy way to avoid saying “we’re against this law because we are uncomfortable with transgender people in general and allowing what we perceive to be a political victory for LGBT persons in particular.”

One hopes Berkamn is ignorant of the ugliness animating the campaign for which he speaks, as many celebrity endorsers are.

Frank Wren named Red Sox VP of baseball operations

FILE - In this March 11, 2014, file photo, Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren meets the media before a spring exhibition baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Kissimmee, Fla. The Braves have fired general manager Frank Wren. The move was announced Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, by team president John Schuerholz, one day after the team was eliminated from the NL playoff race. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

The Red Sox have announced that they have named former Orioles and former Braves General Manager Frank Wren their new vice president of baseball operations.

Which requires us to regroup a bit, because that’s a lot of GM-types in the Red Sox’ front office.

Dave Dombrowski was hired last month as the Sox’ President of Baseball operations. He will, presumably, have full and final say over any baseball moves the Red Sox make. His hiring caused former GM Ben Cherington to resign, leading to yesterday’s promotion of senior vice president/assistant general manager Mike Hazen to the post of general manager. Now Wren enters the picture, one presumes, in between Dombrowski and Hazen.

UPDATE: Nope, Wren is below Hazen as well. Which sort of moots all the stuff I had in an earlier version of this post about the dynamics between Dombrowski, Hazen and Wren. Wren, it seems, is going to be merely an advisor, not unlike former Royals GM Allard Baird is with the Sox.

Which makes this more a function of title inflation than anything else. Advisors are now “Vice Presidents” despite not really having any executive authority. General Managers now answer to people higher on the chain. If it makes everyone feel better and more important, well, so be it.

Jonathan Papelbon given a three-game suspension

Washington Nationals closing pitcher Jonathan Papelbon reacts when Michael Morse strikes out for the final out in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, July 30, 2015, in Miami. The Nationals defeated the Marlins 1-0. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Major League Baseball just announced that Nationals pitcher Jonathan Papelbon has received a three-game suspension and an undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing a pitch “in the head area” of Manny Machado in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game.

One would assume that, since the Nationals are not yet mathematically eliminated, Papelbon will appeal his suspension, thereby remaining eligible.

In other news, I would’ve given him more. But then again, I’ve learned that I’m in a minority of people who find throwing a 93 m.p.h. fastball at someone with the intention of hitting them to have no place in baseball.