(This article was published in 2002).
Jim Rome’s take today SUCKED.
After getting some good grades on his takes on gays in sports, Rome fans out HARD in discussing the rumors surrounding the New York Mets and the potential that one of the players on that team is gay. He says emphatically that baseball is not ready for an openly gay player, the fans aren’t ready, and anyone saying otherwise is fooling themselves.
Rome develops a self-fulfilling prophecy. He is THE voice of sports. He gets the biggest interviews, has a radio show and a television show – he is the king of the sports media.
Yeah. If Jim Rome tells everyone, “you can’t handle a gay ballplayer coming out,” shocker: people will be less able to handle a gay ballplayer coming out. Rome focuses on the Eric Davises of the world, who say that they don’t want to play with a player “like that.” But, why does he focus so much on the negative?
The manager of the New York Mets says an openly gay player would be cool.
The star player of the New York Mets says an openly gay player would be cool.
The general manager of the New York Mets says an openly gay player would be cool.
Jim Rome, who doesn’t play baseball, who doesn’t work in baseball, who doesn’t spend his days in the locker rooms, has decided that these guys, who DO play baseball, and who DO spend their days in the locker rooms, are wrong.
The expert that Rome brings onto his show to corroborate his assertion is Billy Bean – who, shocker, was too weak to come out of the closet when he was playing professional baseball (er – seven years ago), and who has spoken against players coming out the last few years. Hmm – I wonder what his regretful take is going to be . . .
Bean says: “people who run professional teams don’t want distractions.” He adds that, if you have 15-20 reporters asking a guy personal questions about his sexuality, it’s going to cause distractions. Hmmm – let’s see. Jackie Robinson caused quite a few distractions his first year in the Major Leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers. His rookie year, as the first black man in the Major Leagues, he hit .297, scored 125 runs, stole 29 bases, and led his team to the World Series en route to being the first-ever Major League Rookie of the Year.
So much for distractions.
At what point does Rome think a baseball player should come out? Does he need a handwritten invitation from every player in Major League Baseball? Does someone need to go door-to-door in New York City to make sure that every single Mets’ fan is comfortable with a gay ballplayer?
How about this: many people are cool with it, including the team manager, including the team’s star, including the team’s general manager; much of the press is supportive of the issue; much of society is supportive of the issue. Apparently, that’s not enough for Rome. He’d rather listen to an ex-marginal-baseball player and some lugheads that write into his smack-filled show and decide that baseball isn’t ready.
Hell, even one of Rome’s callers got it right. Rolo from L.A., a self-described straight guy, said that gay players can’t wait until “baseball is ready” because, if you do that, baseball will never be ready. Rome’s reaction:
“Er . . . uh . . . ummm . . . good point.”
“It would not be accepted in your own clubhouse. No way. No chance,” Rome said on his show today. But, oddly, he then goes on to say that there are surely gay men on teams all over Major League Baseball – and that some of them are surely openly gay with their team. He acknowledges that there are players who are openly gay to their teammates, but then accuses those teammates of not being tolerant enough.
Er . . . uh . . . ummm . . . .
Rome needs to rethink his take on this one. Instead of telling gay players to wait for a phone call from him and every other “clone” out there to come out, he should be focusing on the positive – on the players like Mike Mussina and Mike Piazza who say that it’s cool if one of their teammates come out – and help encourage gay ballplayers to be themselves and make a difference. There are plenty of clones out there – too bad Rome is acting like one himself.
As Rome says at the end of every show:
“I am Out.”