Back in 2015, Daniel Murphy, then with the Mets, got into some hot water when he decided that it was his job to tell the world that he “disagreed” with Major League Vice President Billy Bean’s “lifestyle.” Meaning, of course, with Bean’s homosexuality. He added “I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect.”
Bean, at the time baseball’s Ambassador for Inclusion, took an extraordinarily diplomatic tack with Murphy and, over the years, it has been reported that they have developed a friendship. Which is fine as far as Bean goes, but Murphy never apologized for his comments and said he would no longer speak about his “religious beliefs,” choosing instead to “stick to baseball.” In light of that, LGBTQ baseball fans have, quite understandably, been cool to Murphy, who seems to quite clearly be less than accepting of homosexuality, to put it lightly.
While Mets and, subsequently, Nationals fans either made their peace — or didn’t — with Murphy, his trade to the Cubs the other day puts him in another team’s uniform and subjects him to another team’s fan base. Today Murphy met the Cubs press for the first time and, predictably, he was asked about all of that. He did not have anything approaching a satisfying answer.
He started out well enough. As you can see in the video below, he seemed pretty eager to talk about his relationship with Billy Bean, with his comments seeming pretty well-workshopped and, I suspect, crafted, by some interaction with MLB’s p.r. professionals (the same goes for what he said just before those comments when he spoke generically about Bean and MLB policy).
When he was asked specifically about gay Cubs fans, however — when he was asked if he had a message for gay Cubs fans who may be wary of rooting for him for the Cubs since they acquired him — he said “oh dear,” and simply said he hoped they rooted for the Cubs:
It’s hard to escape the conclusion that the alpha and omega of Murphy’s consideration of his 2015 comments has been to say, more or less, that he likes Billy Bean and that Billy Bean likes him, to parrot some broad buzzwords about “outreach” and “inclusion” and, hey, isn’t that good enough? It does not seem to have occurred to him that his comments alienated and hurt gay baseball fans or that he has any obligation to consider their feelings whatsoever.
Which, of course, he does not. No one can make him care and no one can make him apologize for giving voice to bigoted views about homosexuality. And no one, now, can make him make the slightest effort to acknowledge that there are gay Cubs fans who may be wary of him or say even the most cursory thing to give them the slightest bit of comfort that he’s grown a bit in the past three years. It’s a free country, as we are so often reminded.
By the same token, there is nothing making anyone root for Daniel Murphy or the Chicago Cubs if this is the face he and they want to present to their fans. And, from where I’m sitting, I can’t think of a single reason to do so. It’s a free country for everyone, after all.