Expressing Anger at Torii Hunter Solves Nothing

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It’s fine to expect all professional athletes to be as accepting and understanding of others as Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe is in regards to the sexual orientation of others. Kluwe has expressed as such publicly, multiple times and as a result people who ordinarily haven’t the faintest clue who the punter for the Vikings is, now know due to his outspokenness on a controversial subject. But expecting every athlete to be so open is not reality. There’s still a wall between certain players and the possibility that in the future there will be an openly gay teammate in their clubhouse.

There are ways to deal with any reluctance on the part of players who are open about their feelings regarding this issue as Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter was when in this LA Times article on the subject he said he’d be “uncomfortable.” Savaging them in the media, getting them to backtrack and/or apologize when they don’t mean it isn’t an effective method to solve the underlying beliefs that led to his statement in the first place.

There are methods though. One is through management of the club saying that if you have a problem with it, we’ll accommodate you…by getting rid of you.

Vince Lombardi’s brother Harold was gay and in his time as a coach, Lombardi had gay players. He also made it a point to tell the other players that if they ever questioned said players’ manhood, they’d be gone. Presumably, he would also have used his power to blackball that particular player from other NFL teams. Nothing stops the side effects of prejudice like fearing for one’s livelihood that if you can’t deal with working X person, then you won’t have a job. It won’t eliminate the core beliefs that led to the prejudice, but it will prevent it from festering and infecting the club.

Interestingly, while Vince Lombardi is often held up as a paragon of conservative values, he was an ardent Democrat. It was Harold Lombardi who happened to be a staunch conservative when the Republican party was about business interests and not about telling people how to live their lives; he was a Republican before the Republican party was overrun by religious fundamentalists who excluded rather than included. That hardline attitude is shaking the ground beneath the feet of the ultra right wingers and religious right with the prospect of party marginalization that accompanies continuously losing elections with the untenable candidates they’re presenting such as Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. This is serving to “educate” them far better than an enlightening discussion that’s not going to enlighten anyone.

The bottom line tells all. Losing jobs, losing elections, losing money—it all results in the sudden epiphany of, “Hey, okay. I can work with others! I can be flexible.”

Hunter’s comments have been the catalyst for indignant blog postings and Tweets expressing shock that someone would dare say such a thing on the eve of 2013 when we, as a society, are supposed to be beyond all that, but maybe a little understanding of where Hunter is coming from would be beneficial. When a person is told from the beginning of his or her life that homosexuality is a sin; when the “proof” of this is presented in biblical texts and hammered into their brains at home from their parents; when they hear from respected members of the community such as pastors, priests, and rabbis, and, in conjunction, they’re functioning in the testosterone-fueled fishbowl of sports, do you think they’re going to express a liberalism when it comes to a person’s sexuality?

Because the public doesn’t want to hear what Hunter said, it’s not eliminated from existence.

These are facts and they’re not politically correct. The ever-present litany of clichés for athletes was created for public consumption and is designed to shun controversy. With that, you have athletes saying flavorless sound bytes of vanilla nothingness. Hunter spoke honestly of his beliefs on the matter. It’s opened the door to talk about it and perhaps convince those who think like Hunter that they need to be a little more accepting of an issue that they can’t control and that their resistance in doing so might eventually cast them out if they’re unwilling or unable to adapt to the prospect of having a gay teammate.

The only way to end that type of ingrained feeling of discomfort is to confront it, not by providing standard, pat responses out of fear of public reprisal, but with actual, honest answers so Hunter can be convinced that not every gay person is going to be staring at him in the shower as if he’s their next date; that the person is not committing a mortal sin and sentencing themselves to an eternity of damnation from a behavior Hunter views as against God’s laws; that it isn’t a choice. If Hunter says, “I’d be fine with it,” when he wouldn’t be fine with it, it does more harm than good. Lying can’t make a player who’s gay feel comfortable living his life publicly with the unsaid knowledge that there are players who are steering clear of him intentionally because of it. Only true education, discussion, or at least agreeing to disagree and working together in spite of it can do that.

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The Latest On Ryan Braun

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Since the positive test has been reported to not have been a performance enhancing substance, it’s a process of elimination to determine what Brewers outfielder and National League MVP Ryan Braun supposedly took to prompt the failed test.

The LA Times provided a list of the banned substances in the baseball’s collective bargaining agreement here.

If the PEDs are off the table, what could Braun have taken and was it inadvertent? If it wasn’t a PED, could it have been a recreational drug? Could have have drunk a couple of energy drinks and his testosterone levels were spiked unknowingly?

The source in this Tom Haudricourt piece says that there was never a result like this in all the years of testing and MLB Trade Rumors links multiple stories on this subject with varying reports on whether it was a PED or not.

If Braun’s telling the truth, that indicates an anomaly somewhere.

Would Braun have taken an amphetamine? I would presume that recreational drugs wouldn’t be subject to a suspension, so what was it?

On the other hand, was this something Braun has taken before and had yet to fail a test? Would he be stupid enough to take something during the playoffs he’d never taken without knowing what the ingredients were? Or did he run the risk in the interests of helping his team advance in the playoffs?

When a player gets caught doing something he shouldn’t do and is publicly shamed, his denials aren’t worth very much—unless he’s telling the truth.

With all the rumors being leaked, there’s no conclusion to be reached until the appeal is heard and it’s revealed exactly what happened.

The words “never”, “ever” and “nearly impossible” are used in the stories again and again.

But everything is a “never” until it happens. Judging from the way the Braun camp is insisting that he didn’t do anything wrong, I think it’s a possibility that there’s a reasonable explanation. 

Then things will probably get even messier because if the first big name player who failed a test after the new CBA was signed is able to win on appeal, it sabotages everything the MLB testing system is designed to do in the first place.

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