Warning: This article contains hateful language that might harm some people.
Back in 2019, Sean Doolittle drew headlines for refusing to visit the White House after his Washington Nationals won the World Series. When asked for a reason, he pointed to the fact that his wife Eireann Dolan was raised by two mothers. “I want to show support for them. I think that’s an important part of allyship, and I don’t want to turn my back on them”. This was not Doolittle’s first time showcasing his support for the LGBTQ+ community. Jump back to 2015, when Doolittle was on the A’s and the team was about to host it’s first pride night, some season ticket holders voiced their displeasure with the event. In response, Dolan bought 900 seats and donated them to local LGBTQ+ charities, with Doolittle matching the donation dollar for dollar. Jumping back to 2019, when the Nationals hosted their own Pride Night, Doolittle celebrated the occasion by wearing cleats painted with the rainbow pride flag and transgender pride flag on them and then autioning them off, with the profits going to SMYAL, a charity supporting LGBTQ+ youth. Doolittle is one of the few people in baseball who openly support the LGBTQ+ community, donating his own money giving them representation and support from an industry that has been horribly lax in that regard in the past. An industry that continues to drop the ball with supporting the LGBTQ+ community
Now we jump to August 19th, 2020. Before the second game of a doubleheader between the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals, Reds announcer Thom Brennaman said “One of the f*g capitals of the world” live on air. What place he was referring to is unknown. Whatever he was referring to is unimportant. What is important is what he said. Despite all MLB’s attempts to combat hate – hosting pride nights, having spirit days, appointing Billy Bean, the first openly gay MLB player, to special assistant to the commissioner – homophobia is still rife in baseball, and in sports in general. As of this writing, it is unknown if Brennaman will be fired. He should be. Brennaman has been a broadcaster for the Reds since 2006. He has been the voice of the team for years. He is linked to them, and major league baseball in general. Him saying what he said is inexcusable, and shows the unfortunate fact that hate still runs through baseball. Ian Desmond said it better than I could in his seminal essay on why he opted out of the 2020 season: MLB still has a troubling, intolerant culture from the clubhouse to the broadcast booth that it must do better to end
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I would be lying if I said I was surprised that there were prominent figures in baseball that held hate in their heart. It is damning that when Sean Doolittle wears pro LGBT+ cleats during a game, or a Love Wins shirt during a parade, it is major news. It is damning that he is the only major figure in MLB to broadcast support for the LGBTQ+ community. It is not enough for MLB to host pride nights and spirit days. That is the bare minimum. MLB can’t just sell rainbow shirts, especially when it’s more in vogue to do so than ever. Making your environment welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community means doing more than selling team jerseys with pride colors; it means cutting out hate at the root and showing that you are intolerant of hate. MLB needs to put its money where its mouth is and do more to support the LGBTQ+ community instead of just trying to profit off of them. MLB needs more people to follow in the footsteps of Doolittle, especially now that he has left twitter due to hateful comments directed his way.
MLB needs more voices to drown out the hate. The hate that it sometimes amplifies itself.