Matt over at Diamondhacks has written a controversial piece in which he calls for all *** people to be banned from the ballpark! (not really, it’s actually a typically well written blog about "theme nights" and groups of people hijacking an event when most of us just want to watch the game). I also watched a "debate" on the subject of the San Diego Padres *** night on the Bill O’Reilly show (incidentally I was delighted to discover that I can now call myself a "secular progressive" or "S-P" as Fox news shortened it to) in which some obviously demented woman of the right implied that the Padres were part of some extreme, radical, *** agenda designed to corrupt our kids. Now I dislike the Padres as much as anyone but even I wouldn’t go that far (plus it would never fit on a banner). But her seemingly manic ramblings, which even O’Reilly thought were a little over the top, made me wonder how people like her, and fans in general would react to a top baseball player "coming out".The stats on the percentages of people who are *** are disputed but even allowing for a ridiculously low number like 2% it would mean that one in every two teams had a *** player on their staff (of course 50% of the population are women and none of them are in MLB so I guess numbers can prove anything).
Yet baseball players actually seem to be the most open minded about having a team mate who is *** ( a recent poll revealed that 75% would have no problem with this) but the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say and it would be a brave player to come out whilst still playing at the top level (although probably not a Braves Player given John Smoltz’s views).
The only English soccer player to have admitted to being *** was Justin Fashanu (pictured) he came out in 1990 and was never accepted into the world of soccer and his life ended tragically in 1998 when he hanged himself in a deserted garage in London. Not much of an incentive for others. The BBC recently sent a survey to to the top 20 soccer teams in England for their views on homosexuality; not one single team responded.Clearly the prevailing attitude in baseball is much more open-minded and accepting than most other team based sports and it does seem likely that if and when the first star professional athlete comes out it will be in the MLB.
People have said that whoever takes the first step will be the "*** Jackie Robinson" but the issues are different in the sense that Jackie didn’t have the choice to keep his skin color a secret, and the the overall mood in society in general is not something that has to be won over in the way that it did in the race issue. The first *** player to come out won’t be the new Jackie Robinson, he will simply be himself, which is kind of the point.
The issue for the club, would then become how it was dealt with, because if handled correctly it could be a huge financial and commercial opportunity (and huge financial and commercial opportunities seem to be very popular with front offices around the big leagues).
Until that day comes I shall continue to indulge in the time honored practice of idle speculation concerning the sexuality of highly paid athletes. It’s my duty,and my right,as a fan.