Daniel Murphy still doesn’t get it

Getty Images
203 Comments

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.”

How generous.

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.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.