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.

Report: Mets aren’t likely to trade Noah Syndergaard for prospect package

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mets aren’t looking for long-term investment pieces in a trade for right-hander Noah Syndergaard, per unnamed sources. Instead, any deal the club makes will likely center on players who can make a difference for them in 2019 as they attempt to rise from last year’s fourth-place finish in the NL East and make a run at the postseason.

The 26-year-old starter has been a fixture of the Mets’ rotation since he got his start in the majors in 2015. Despite missing nearly the entire 2017 season with a torn lat muscle in his throwing arm, he returned to pitch his third full season in 2018 with a winning 13-4 record in 25 starts, 3.03 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9 through 154 1/3 innings and finished the year with his first complete game shutout, to boot. After receiving a $2.975 million salary in 2018, he’s slated for another three years in arbitration before entering free agency in the 2022 season.

So far this offseason, the Padres have been the only team linked to the righty, though they didn’t come close to completing a trade when they first inquired about him back at the July deadline. If the Mets are serious about dealing Syndergaard, as Rosenthal seems to suggest, they could very well look at acquiring another couple of arms to round out their rotation. Assuming Syndergaard is moved this winter, the team will enter 2019 with right-handers Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler, lefties Jason Vargas and (the oft-injured) Steven Matz — and relatively little depth behind the four.