It’s 2014…and I still have this space to say something about the state of sports.
Sure, I have been enjoying a fantastic run as an automotive writer. The vehicles I have been reviewing range from “oh, not again” to “OMG, this is a dream come true!” But, I’m bragging…no, it’s all work. I have been asked to do more – explore car maintenance issues, look at traveling with pets in a car and doing consumer-guided material for a larger site: CarSoup.com.
Auto folks are sports fans, too! My Twitterverse is full of Tigers fans, Blue Jays fans, Reds fans – all colleagues and contacts in this business. I’ve seen my share of Twins clothing and caps on some of the local events I cover. MLB still reigns as the game to watch – along with the St. Paul Saints.
BTW, The Saints are moving to Lowertown St. Paul next season. Long Live Midway! Catch the Final Train, when you can!
Though as deep I have gone in the business, there is one thing I cannot ignore: My sexual orientation.
Y’all know I’m gay, right? It is part of why I stopped doing The Heirloom, as the conditions of MLB were somewhere between questioning motivations to patronizing to lingering conditions that continue to be unwelcoming to gay athletes in baseball. While Michael Sam heads to the NFL Draft, Derrick Gordon will continue to pound out a collegiate basketball career at UMass. After waiting several months to get back in the game after coming out, Jason Collins helped to send the Brooklyn Nets into the NBA Playoffs.
These out gay/bisexual male athletes helped to further the conversation about LGBT citizenship in America. They added context to the advance of marriage equality – now a fact of law in my native state and the state I call home. Minnesota now has a law protecting students from harassment for being LGBT on every educational level.
I live in good times. I should be able to trust the MLBlogosphere with my thoughts about the game in context of my life. My decision was to not go forward because I felt that trust was not widely existent beyond a few friends and allies on- and off-line that still love the game and support their local teams.
In a time when we continue to recall Jackie Robinson for what he did to integrate the game, MLB has simply not advanced the conditions for a gay or bisexual ballplayer to come out and play alongside a 25-man roster. Nor has the conditions improved in the minors. If they have – and I am not aware of this – show me. Just bloody show me!
A couple of seasons ago, the “It Gets Better” videos showed a glimmer of hope. Supposedly, the message stopped in MLB, while other sports entities adopted broader approaches to welcoming and celebrating LGBT fans and possible out athletes. The old school hierarchy still pervades in the clubhouse and at the Commissioner’s Office. I doubt if we will see any progress as long as Bud Selig is Commissioner or with other key people are in power at the club level.
So, what if someone comes out? How will you respond? We are not talking front office people or retired ballplayers. We are talking members of the 25-man roster, perhaps a minor leaguer. Someone who had struggled so much to sacrifice an open life to dedicate most of the year from Spring Training to the World Series.
How will you embrace an openly gay/bisexual ballplayer?
LGBT fans would be highly appreciative if someone in MLB comes out. We would wear their jersey, t-shirt or cap. A few of us have Jason Collins t-shirts, jerseys and sport Nets caps – and they have a positive affect on his presence in the NBA. What if Michael Sam gets drafted or goes through free agency onto a NFL franchise? We’ll do the same, as long as the situation is right for him to play and go forward onto the 52-man roster.
If you want me back at a MLB ballpark – and to re-engage with this game I used to love so much – please let this happen.