Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto, the team's best hitter, has been on the disabled list since May 30 with what the team has termed "stress-related issues." The team and Votto have been vague about what is causing his stress, so that has kicked the rumor mill into high gear in Cincinnati. One popular conclusion? Votto is gay and the news was about to come out. This is the typical "I heard from a friend who has a friend with the Reds ..." kind of stuff, which means it has zero credence but it is persistent. (Update below: Votto describes why he was on the DL).
I have been reading more than 100 comments posted on various sites about Votto and have seen the following reasons given for his stress:
- He is gay and was about to be outed by his Canadian ex-boyfriend (Votto was born in Canada.)
- He is bi and was about to be outed by his Canadian ex-boyfriend as part of a love triangle.
- He is straight and broke up with his girlfriend.
- He is straight, has a hot girlfriend but is still dealing with the death of his father last August.
- He is distraught that Adam Lambert lost in the "American Idol" finals.
I made the last one up, but you can see how easy it is to propose any theory in the Internet age; anonymity allows anyone to pose as an insider. The secrecy surrounding Votto's absence has only heightened speculation, and Votto says that what he is dealing with is something the Reds have been aware of.
We'll have a little conversation and come to a conclusion what I need to do next ... They know what I've been going through. They would be able to say, 'Are you ready to go?' My answer would be yes.
Votto, batting .357 at the time of going on the DL, might be back in Tuesday night's game in his hometown of Toronto, so whatever has been bothering him seems under control.
The "so and so is gay" meme has become commonplace (type in most any athlete + gay into Google and see what you find). I think this is a weird kind of progress. It was not too long ago that many fans denied there were gay players in pro sports. The acceptance of these rumors as being at least plausible shows that the average fan realizes that his favorite team might have a gay player.
Update: Votto held a 15-minute press conference after being called up prior to the Toronto game, where he said he was battling depression and anxiety attacks in the wake of his father's death:
"They were overwhelming me to the point where I needed to go to the hospital on two separate occasions -- once in San Diego and once that nobody had been told about, I went to the hospital in Cincinnati when the team was on the road [in early June]," Votto explained. "It was a very, very scary and crazy night where I had to call 911 at three or four in the morning. It was probably the scariest moment I ever had dealt with in my life, and I went to the hospital that night."
"There were nights that I couldn't be alone," Votto said. "The one night I was alone, the very first night I was alone, was when I went to the hospital. I couldn't take it. It just got to the point where I felt I was going to die, really."...
"I do know I've had a real struggle with my father's passing."