In an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello today Justin Verlander made it clear he’d have no problem playing alongside a gay teammate, saying:
I wouldn’t mind it. … We got 25 guys, it’s a family, and our goal is to win a World Series. What your sexual orientation is, I don’t see how that affects the ultimate goal of our family.
Asked if there are gay players in MLB currently and whether they should feel comfortable coming out, Verlander said:
I’m sure there are. I think as with any sport, a gay player would be hesitant to come out, but the sheer number says there absolutely is. Yeah, I don’t see why not, given the right situation, and a team that’s a family atmosphere, and I feel like we have that atmosphere here. I don’t think one of our players would be scared to come out.
Verlander’s comments about the team’s “family atmosphere” potentially making a gay player comfortable is interesting because his new Tigers teammate, Torii Hunter, recently said that having a gay teammate would be “difficult and uncomfortable” due to his religious beliefs (and then said he was misquoted).
Whatever the case: Good on ya, Justin.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.