Everyone says baseball would accept a gay player. But would it really?

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Andy Martino of the Daily News has a somewhat provocative item today. A day after Jason Collins came out of the closet, he wonders whether baseball would truly be accepting of a gay player in its ranks.

He acknowledges that, publicly, yes, it would. As the reaction to Collins’ announcement yesterday made clear, almost everyone in any sort of prominent position knows the right things to say. Most of them believe it. But there are likely some, Martino says, who would only be doing so as an exercise in p.r. or damage control while actually harboring negative or hostile feelings. By way of example, Martino passes along some observations from clubhouses over the years:

Baseball once led the country on race, but there are many reasons to believe it will lag behind basketball and other sports on the defining civil rights issue of this moment … What if one of your teammates is, for example, the player who I once saw sprawled on a clubhouse couch, watching an “It Gets Better” ad on TV, shaking his head and sighing?

“This is how P.C. the world is now?” he complained, while a few others chortled. “I can’t even say f-g?”

Martino also speaks with Billy Bean, who came out after his eight year playing career ended in the mid-90s. Bean agrees that it might very well be tougher in baseball than in any other sport.

And it may. But I think the concern about those who would harbor secret hostility is a sort of beside the point.  The racists didn’t leave baseball in April 1947. There are likely still many on rosters even today. The point is that it has become socially unacceptable to be an open racist and to discriminate against minorities. And, as we’re increasingly seeing today, it is becoming socially unacceptable to be an open homophobe and to discriminate against gay people.

Ideally you want to change hearts and minds along with the policies. And, of course, life would be much easier for a gay player if said hearts and minds were changed too.  But it’s not likely or even necessary that such a thing happen. Pushing those who harbor fear or hatred against minorities into a closet of their own is good enough for the time being. Maybe once they’re in there, they’ll realize that they are, increasingly, the isolated minority.

State of West Virginia adopts a resolution urging MLB not to contract the minor leagues

Craig Calcaterra
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All of the Astros content lately has caused one of Major League Baseball’s other offseason PR disasters to the back burner. That being its plan to eliminate 42 minor league teams.

The biggest target of the contraction plan is the Appalachian League, which Major League Baseball proposes to eliminate in its entirety. That ten-team league has teams in West Virginia, North Carolina in Tennessee. As someone from West Virginia — and someone who, in 2018, spent a couple of days around the Appalachian League and making many new friends as I did so — I can tell you first hand that the people in those areas are extremely upset at the prospect of losing professional baseball.

Their political leaders are well aware of it too. To that end the legislators of one of the Appy League’s states — West Virginia — passed a resolution this morning condemning Major League Baseball’s contraction plan. The text:

HOUSE RESOLUTION 14

(By Delegates Shott, Pushkin, Caputo, Ellington, Williams, Fleischauer, Rowe, Wilson, Bibby, D. Jeffries, Hansen, Pyles, Skaff, Campbell, Estep-Burton, Cowles, Nelson and Byrd)

[Introduced February 21, 2020]

Urging Major League Baseball to rescind the ill-advised proposal that threatens the future of professional baseball in West Virginia.

Whereas, The history of professional baseball in West Virginia, dates back more than a century from the Charleston Statesmen in 1910 through four Minor League Baseball teams today:  the West Virginia Black Bears in Morgantown, the West Virginia Power in Charleston, the Bluefield Blue Jays and the Princeton Rays; and

Whereas, West Virginia’s four Minor Leagues Baseball teams – and others in surrounding states nearby, including the Hagerstown Suns – add to the quality of life for many people in West Virginia by providing access to live action, affordable family entertainment throughout the spring and summer months; and

Whereas, These four teams within West Virginia are engines of tourism, welcoming 226,000 fans to their games in 2019 and attracting thousands of visitors to come to West Virginia who might not otherwise visit our state from every other state in the nation and several other countries; and

Whereas, These first-time and repeat visitors include players and coaches, their families and friends, umpires and professional scouts, baseball professionals and avid fans of the game, and they stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores, visit our attractions and discover our state in ways they otherwise would never experience; and

Whereas, Minor League Baseball teams in West Virginia are small businesses that provide paychecks to dozens of full-time and hundreds of part-time employees in our state, form partnerships with hundreds of other West Virginia businesses, generate millions of dollars in economic impact and assist West Virginia charities and community organizations in raising several hundred thousand dollars every year; and

Whereas, A proposal from Major League Baseball seeks to eliminate 42 teams from its player development structure with Minor League Baseball and, if implemented, would jeopardize the future of professional baseball throughout West Virginia and in other nearby communities in neighboring states; therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Delegates:

 That the West Virginia Legislature hereby urges Major League Baseball to rescind the ill-advised proposal that threatens the future of professional baseball in West Virginia and the benefits in tourism, job creation, quality of life and charitable assistance that our citizens and communities now enjoy because of Minor League Baseball in West Virginia; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a copy of this resolution to the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

 

I’m sure Rob Manfred will read the resolution closely before throwing it in the trash.