Wednesday, FOX Sports' Rob Neyer wrote a column about his interview with former umpire Dave Pallone. In 1990, Pallone wrote a memoir alleging that he was forced out of Major League Baseball after the 1988 season because, he says, "I was gay, and they didn't want the publicity surrounding that to tarnish baseball's macho image. In other words, they were prepared to sacrifice a proven, veteran umpire so they wouldn't look bad." The interview goes on to laud Dale Scott and appreciate that Scott will be the first person on a Major League Baseball field open about being a gay person.
In a separate follow-on column, however, Neyer raises this question:
Since we're talking about this, should umpires have sex with players? I'm thinking probably not: http://t.co/7sTBL8O9Uj— robneyer (@robneyer) December 3, 2014
The answer, obviously, is no. And it's awful to ask the question.
To bring forth Pallone's impropriety now in sleeping with players during his umpiring career, which he admits in his memoir, is horribly unfair to Dale Scott. Scott initially came out quietly by submitting a picture of himself and his partner of 28 years and now-husband on the plane to the season opening Australia series in Referee Magazine. Associating Scott with Pallone's impropriety is terrible because it creates the association that the wrong Pallone did is a wrong endemic to gay umpires and gay players.
Neyer attempts to defend the column, however:
.@draculaslament Pallone wrote about it in his book. Which makes it fair game for discussion, no? We should just pretend he didn't?— robneyer (@robneyer) December 3, 2014
What Neyer appears to fundamentally misunderstand, then, is that people are not upset because he is writing about gay people in baseball. People are upset because he is writing about it in a way that arouses the worst suspicions and stereotypes about gay people in baseball. That gay people will upset the integrity of the game, will damage locker room chemistry, will be unable to control themselves despite the improprieties involved.
What Pallone did in sleeping with players while an umpire was wrong because it damages the integrity of the game. But what Pallone did is ancient history, and it has nothing to do with Dale Scott.