Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.

Safeco Field usher reprimands lesbian couple for public display of affection


File this under “well, it was certainly handled better than it might’ve been a few years ago” but make sure you file a duplicate under “yet, the fact that this still happens says a lot about some folks’ feelings about gay people.”

Outsports reports that, last Friday, at the Angles-Mariners game, a lesbian couple was issued a reprimand by a Safeco Field usher — basically, they were informed, in writing, of a complaint by other fans — for a public display of affection. Hugging and kissing. Nothing unusual and nothing extreme.  They were nonetheless told that they needed to stop because their behavior was inappropriate in a “public, family setting.” Clearly, someone was icked-out because a same-sex couple was doing the same thing opposite sex couples do all the time.

The couple then went to guest services to object to the reprimand. To the Mariners’ credit, they immediately apologized, rescinded the reprimand (for whatever the reprimand was worth in the first place) and that was followed up by a heartfelt message from a Mariners manager on Monday, again apologizing and then offering to invite then back to a future game for a better Mariners game experience. Outsports has a transcript of the message left by the Mariners employee, which unlike so many other apologies from businesses, was thoughtful and human [Hold that thought: see the update below].

We live in a way more more enlightened and accepting society when it comes to such matters now than we ever have, but the fact that some people would lodge a formal complaint over gay people doing the exact thing straight people do all the dang time at a ballpark — and that a stadium employee would endorse the complaint formally like this usher did — speaks to just how far we still have to go.

Kudos, however, to the Mariners for immediately and positively responding.

UPDATE: Wait, let’s retract the kudos. It seems the Mariners walked back the apology and retreated to the position that the couple acted inappropriately:

Despite the overt apology by Swisher, and her absolving the couple of any wrongdoing in the voicemail, on Tuesday Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale spun a completely different story about what triggered the incident on Friday, telling Outsports that, according to reports, the couple acted inappropriately.

Hale said the usher received two complaints — one of them from a fellow Safeco Field staff member — that the two lesbians were “making out” with one another and should be stopped. Plus, despite Swisher telling the couple that the usher regretted the encounter, Hale told Outsports that the usher’s own written statement maintained that the couple was “making out” and that the usher “felt it was not appropriate for the public setting.”

When asked about Swisher contacting the lesbian couple and apologizing, Hale dismissed the outreach as protocol.

My fault for the first version of this story that left that out. It was just careless on my part. I got to the part where the employee left the apologetic message, felt like it was at a resolution, and then did a bad skim down beyond it, missing a paragraph or two because a quick scan made me think it was all just the later historical backfill. Apologies.


Joe Girardi gets stuck in one last A-Rod controversy for old time’s sake


Between Alex Rodriguez‘s release/retirement and his press conference and his upcoming farewell game, you’d be excused if you thought that the Yankees would make it out of this without having any more A-Rod controversies. But hey, why not one more for old time’s sake? This one is about playing time in the A-Rod’s limited time left in pinstripes.

On Sunday Joe Girardi suggested that Rodriguez would play a lot during his final week with the Yankees. He wasn’t in the lineup for their game against Boston last night, however, and A-Rod was a bit miffed by it:

“I came to the stadium really excited, hoping I would play all three games or maybe two out of three.” A-Rod said before the game. Then he said that Girardi told him “we’re trying to win games” as an explanation for his being on the bench. A-Rod said “It was surprising and shocking.” He added, however, that he was going to do whatever Girardi said and it did not appear that he was going to make a federal case out of it.

Any hopes that the matter would die down ended, however, when Red Sox fans chanted “WE WANT A-ROD” at multiple points during the game. I’m sure they just wanted him out there to boo him, but hey, the opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference. A-Rod was owed the boos too.

All of this is going to be forgotten soon. Girardi admitted after the game that he went back on what he promised on Sunday, saying he was a bit emotional at the time. He likewise said last night A-Rod would likely start Thursday, in addition to his Friday night farewell. It’s deck chairs on the Titanic stuff, really. Ultimately, whether a washed up player appears in two games or four games for a team that isn’t going anyplace before he exits the stage is not of much consequence.

All of that said, on some level, it’s appropriate that A-Rod’s final games with the Yankees are ending with a few bumps in the road. Anything else would be sort of deflating, frankly.

Disney buys a $1 billion stake in MLB’s streaming media division


Walt Disney announced yesterday that it will pay a $1 billion to purchase a 33% stake in BAMTech, which is the streaming media unit created by Major League Baseball. ESPN will use BAMTech’s streaming platform to launch a new digital service, separate from its cable channels, that will air baseball, basketball and college football games that don’t appear on the regular ESPN networks. There will be no additional broadcast rights purchased by ESPN. Rather, it will be more about airing secondary and less popular matchups of the sports for which it already owns the rights.

From ESPN’s perspective, this represents a way to deal with cord cutters, who have cut their subscriptions to cable companies and who have cut into Disney’s revenues, which are driven tremendously by ESPN. For Major League Baseball this is obviously a huge cash infusion. One which will allow it to spin off BAMTech from MLB Advanced Media, which is where it is currently housed. MLBAM is, of course, its own spinoff of sorts from Major League Baseball itself.

In 1995, baseball’s total revenues were about $1.4 billion. That was for everything: gate, merchandise, broadcasting beer, hot dogs, you name it. In 2016 baseball got nearly that much for a minority share in a side business that didn’t even exist until a few years ago. Financially speaking, the game is doing pretty well.