Daniel Murphy boasts seven home runs and a .421 batting average this postseason. But because his stats on gay issues do not impress some Mets fans, they root against him. Yes, it’s come to this.
“Normally, I’d say I’m in,” Joe Dziemianowicz explains in the New York Daily News. “But because I’m out, I can’t. Yep, it’s a gay thing. Murphy is famously homophobic — and that doesn’t play in a major league town where the pennant is rainbow-colored.” The theater critic calls the infielder “a real bush leaguer about homosexuality” and describes his conflicted response to Murphy’s postseason heroics as “hate the homophobe, love the hometeam.”
“I don’t respect his views,” Joe Buzinski writes at Outsports. “Unlike gay people, Murphy chose a lifestyle,” he writes of the infielder’s Christianity, “and it’s one that preaches that there is something wrong with who I am. I wish he had chosen a lifestyle more inclusive and less judgmental.”
The Twittericans blast the Metropolitan blasting baseballs:
Murphy actually called the Mets bringing in Major League Baseball’s homosexual “Ambassador for Inclusion” to speak to his team this spring “forward thinking” and maintained that he would welcome a gay teammate. “I do disagree with the lifestyle,” he added, “100 percent.” A Christian slammed in the New York media for taking two days off to support his wife during the birth of their first child in 2014, Murphy vowed to “stick to baseball” and refrain from speaking to the press about his beliefs following the controversy surrounding his comments on homosexuality.
The NLCS MVP’s media detractors just can’t seem to follow suit and “stick to baseball.” If hitting home runs in six straight playoff games can’t change the subject, what could?
It seems a massive category mistake to judge athletes by the name they drop in a box, or the house of worship they visit on the weekend, instead of by their exploits on the playing field. Surely we understand that Hillary Clinton’s limitations on a gridiron don’t undermine her credentials as a presidential candidate. But we’ve become so thoroughly politicized that we knock a baseball player enjoying one of the best playoff runs in the history of the sport because a reporter coaxed him into divulging his view of same-sex relations as sinful.
Call it, depending upon your outlook, the Tim Tebow or Michael Sam effect—a culture warrior becoming a super fan based on a competitor’s religion, sexuality, or politics. ESPN morphing into MSNBC surely accelerated this development. And the Mets, by compelling players to pose for a team picture wearing orange shirts supporting gun control this season, contribute to politicizing a place where Americans seek an escape from politics. Sports for sports’ sake seems a lost cause among people who cover sports for a living.
Who cares if a player supports or opposes gay marriage if he can hit, run, and field? People who only ostensibly care about baseball surely care. Like running a tech company or baking wedding cakes, baseball has become a playing field for culture warriors to go into battle. Speak out at the risk of bean balls flying from the press box.
The phenomena strikes as a non sequitur. But sports fans and ideologues make for not-so strange bedfellows. They share the same blinders. They know their opinions before examining the facts. Both groups appear impervious to reason: neither last place nor the failure of their favored candidate to register in polls jars the faith in the team or candidate’s chances of success. Both fans and ideologues indulge in the impulse to reject critical thinking in favor of manufacturing reasons to support a predetermined conclusion. So, perhaps the convergence of both comes as an inevitability. But shouldn’t journalists at least strive to transcend partisanship for cause or team?
Peyton Manning readies to break the NFL’s passing record early next month but donates tens of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates. Magic Johnson won five NBA titles but supports Hillary Clinton and cut an advertisement for ObamaCare. Those who cheer or boo them based on their political outlook say much about themselves and our ideologically-drenched society but little about their targets. Manning and Magic remain great even if we find that their opinions grate. They’re players and not pundits, after all.
Daniel Murphy’s enemies fixating on a remark, dubbed “brave” by MLB’s gay Ambassador of Inclusion, made more than six months ago indicates a jaundiced perspective. There’s a Rorschach test quality to responding to a player hitting seven home runs in nine playoff games with taunts of “homophobe,” “bigot,” and “hater.” They’re not seeing him. We’re seeing them.