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Must-click link: the friendship of Billy Bean and Torey Lovullo

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Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com has an excellent story today about Major League Baseball Vice President Billy Bean and Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo.

The two struck up a strong friendship in the 80s, when both were Los Angeles area college players. Their bond grew stronger when both were drafted by the Detroit Tigers. They were roommates in the minor leagues and Lovullo was a groomsman at Bean’s wedding. Bean would be traded away from the Tigers, however, and over time they lost touch.

A big part of that had to do with Bean’s increasing estrangement from the game and the people in it. An estrangement born of the isolation he felt as a gay man at a time when being openly gay was considerably more difficult than it is today and being openly gay in professional baseball was inconceivable. Bean’s need to keep his sexuality private led to all manner of awfulness, Castrovince writes:

Hiding that secret from even his staunchest allies created complication. By his 1993 season with the Padres, Bean had left his wife and fallen in love with a man named Sam. They shared a condo 20 miles away from Jack Murphy Stadium, so as to avoid the detection of other Padres players. But when Bean hit his first big league home run on July 15, 1993, teammates Trevor Hoffman and Brad Ausmus showed up at his place with celebratory beers. Bean had to frantically push his partner out a separate exit to the garage. Sam hid there alone for several hours while a distracted Bean hosted his unexpected guests.

“That day sucked, man,” Bean says now.

The darkest days came when Sam became ill with complications from HIV just before Opening Day in 1995. Bean was by Sam’s side in the hospital the night he died and will have to live the rest of his life with the agonizing memory of the 24 hours that followed. That very day, the Padres sent him down to Triple-A after their final exhibition game. He reported to duty in Las Vegas and missed his partner’s funeral, all because he still couldn’t bear to reveal his secret to the team.

When Bean hung it up after the 1995 season he stayed away from baseball and went years without talking to his one-time close friend, Lovullo. But all of that changed a few years ago.

Castrovince’s story details how once close friends reunited and how Bean, now a high-ranking MLB official, and Lovullo, the Diamondbacks’ manager, have resumed supporting one another the way they did over 30 years ago when they were first pursuing their major league dreams.

It’s a good read. Take some time for it today.

Marcus Stroman: Blue Jays are “f– terrible”

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Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman strugged in Sunday afternoon’s start against the Red Sox, yielding four runs (three earned) over five innings. He fell to 2-7 with a 5.86 ERA. The Jays dropped three of four games to the Sox in the series and now sit with a 43-52 record heading into the All-Star break.

Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun reports that while Stroman was initially cool, calm, and collected when speaking to the media after the game, he eventually snapped. Stroman was asked by a reporter about breaking into professional baseball with short-season Single-A Vancouver in 2012. Stroman yelled at the reporter, noting that his team had just lost to the Red Sox, and called his team “f– terrible.” Keegan Matheson’s account of the situation lines up with Buffery’s as well.

Prior to the outburst, Stroman had just praised his teammates, saying, “My team picks me up a ton. They pick me up all year. I should be able to pitch better in times like that when my team doesn’t have my back. Because they’ve had my back a ton of times. So, love my guys on my team and like I said, I would go to war with them any day.”

Stroman will have off until Friday, so hopefully the time off helps him clear his mind. It has understandably been a frustrating season in Toronto.