MLB Executives, Including Theo Epstein, Plenty Open to a Michael Sam

mlb logoAddressing the question I raised yesterday in the wake of top college defensive end Michael Sam’s announcement that he is gay, Ken Rosenthal spoke with a handful of Major League Baseball executives on how they would respond if they were in the position to consider drafting an openly-gay player like Sam. All said they would have no problem bringing Sam into the organization, and you can see their specific thoughts in Rosenthal’s piece.

Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein’s response is highlighted first, and I think that’s appropriate, given that he knocked it out of the park:

“If the reports about his football ability and character are accurate, we would sign the baseball Michael Sam in a second and be a better organization for it,” Epstein told Rosenthal.

In other words: good player? Good teammate? Good character? Bring him on.

I don’t think anyone can completely ignore the clubhouse and media implications of bringing in the “first Michael Sam” in baseball, because, right now, it isn’t as simple as saying “if he can play baseball, the rest takes care of itself.” While that’s certainly true in the long-term, there could be clubhouse issues to diffuse, and an incessant media drumbeat to deal with. A strong organization, however, would and should be willing to deal with those things to bring aboard a quality player.

And, on that point, you can head to the other side of town for an excellent point.

“Are you, as a leader of your organization, prepared to provide the young man the public and private support he will need along with controlling, to the extent you can, what the behavior is in the clubhouse/locker room?” White Sox President Kenny Williams told Rosenthal.

“If the answer is yes, then you have an opportunity to use what some see as a distraction and use it as an individual and team character-building opportunity along the lines of what Branch Rickey did for Jackie Robinson. If the answer is no, then it is unfair to select him because like it or not, this will be a daily media/fan event and will need to be managed to keep everyone’s focus on the job at hand.”

This is something that will come up in baseball within the next few years. MLB is getting the benefit of Michael Sam (and, to a lesser extent, Jason Collins (since he hasn’t played post-announcement)) breaking in the national consciousness a bit before having to deal with the issue directly. But I think we all do ourselves a service, as fans of the sport, to discuss the issue openly and respectfully now in the abstract – then everyone is all the more prepared when “the issue” is actually “a person.”

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

315 responses to “MLB Executives, Including Theo Epstein, Plenty Open to a Michael Sam”

  1. YourResidentJag
  2. Funn Dave

    EQ:

    No, I’m not saying that the dictionary has any authoritative force at all. You said, “I’m just saying, there’s a chance that opening up the definition of marriage could lead to others wanting in that redefining.” I’m saying that it is logical for lawmakers and judges to include same-sex marriage in their jurisdictions because it falls under the definition of marriage. It is illogical to consider marriage to family members, animals, or children, as they do not fall under the definition of marriage. I mean, look at how ridiculous what I just typed looks. “Marriage to family members, animals, or children.” What elected official in his or her right mind would even consider even listening to such suggestions? But I realize that I might not have made that entirely clear in my last post.

    As to your second paragraph, I don’t hate you at all and have made it clear that I absolutely tolerate your opinion. I don’t even hold it against you one bit. I’m just trying to help you understand how A) the notion that allowing gay marriage could lead to the legalization or even pursuit of the legalization of immoral behavior is inherently homophobic because it is grounded in the notion that homosexuality is itself immoral, and B) why such concerns are not valid.

    1. EQ76

      FD- I hear you man. What has really put me out is that everyone on here started assuming het I was thinking. I never said that I think homosexuality was wrong. I never mentioned the bible or Christianity. I never said homosexuality was just like or compared to incest, bestiality or pedaphilia. I never actually took a side at all.

      I do wonder (and nobody seems to want to give much credence to this) if other groups will jump into the marriage redefining debate and try to push their feelings, beliefs, fetishes, whatever, and use the legal battles just fought as their defense. I don’t think it’s out of the question that they could at least try and I wonder if “legally” they have any leg to stand on? I have been hearing and reading that it has been attempted in other countries and even a few places in the states.

      1. Funn Dave

        I guess we’ll see.

  3. cavemancubbie

    I believe what has been missing in this argument is that ‘rights’, laws, are basically codified STANDARDS of human conduct and interaction. Standards are used to prevent chaos. When standards change chaos will ensue for a period of time. Brett who is running this site doesn’t want the posters to call each other names (rightly so). This is a standard which prevents this site becoming uncivilized. Standards of conduct are important and when they change, things happen for better or worse. In the past 50 years of life I have seem human interaction coarsen due to the provocative use of ‘bad’ language. I really don’t like the change but there isn’t much I can do about it, except try and ignore the a** h*le who tells me to f**k off.

    1. Patrick W.

      You are correct about laws but not about rights. Rights are inalienable. We are all born with them by virtue of being born. You cannot take away anybody’s rights but what you can do is pass laws that restrict or support the expression of those rights. An example would be marriage.

      You can take away the privileges a person who has interfered with the rights of others but they still have the right.

      1. Patrick W.

        This might be my worst post ever. Not remotely conveying what I’m thinking. Move on.

        1. Funn Dave

          Haha, it was a little confusing but I know what you’re getting at.

      2. cavemancubbie

        There really aren’t that many ‘rights’. The Declaration of Independence written by men smarter and better educated than myself, mentions three, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (Some think they meant property). Certainly two of these rights are only rights to the point when they interfere with my rights. The only true right we have is the right to live. In some society’s and cultures they didn’t even have a right to life, we lived for the king. So many intellectuals think all societies and cultures are equal. I don’t think so. A right implies something we are owed. Perhaps we have a ‘right’ to have the Rickett’s supply us with a World Series win.

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