Update: Hernandez has said his joke was not meant to be homophobic, saying “I made a poor attempt at humor and never intended for it to be taken the wrong way. I am from San Francisco and as baseball fans know, the Dodgers/Giants rivalry runs deep. I did not grow up a Dodger fan and when it came down to Giants vs. Dodgers, I rooted for the Giants. I apologize if any offense was taken.” It’s hard to tell if this really is what he meant, since the context he gives is not remotely “humor.”
The five guys hosting Fox’s pregame of World Series Game 7 were actually quite entertaining tonight. David Ortiz, aka Big Papi, took the center square and provided plenty of light moments.
Keith Hernandez, the New York Mets great who helped bring a World Series title to the Big Apple (and one to the St. Louis Cardinals too), took one of those moments and had to interject a hint of wacky homophobia.
"I know you want the Dodgers to win this series,” Ortiz said to Hernandez. Then he took a funky left turn that was vintage Ortiz. “How 'bout if [Yasiel] Puig shows up right now and be like, ‘Hey Heith, let me give you one of this.’”
Then he did this:
Puig’s tongue has been “a thing” this postseason.
Hernandez backed away, made a cringing expression, then levied this beauty:
“I'm from San Francisco, bro.”
Because, you know, all the queers are from San Francisco. Hernandez is actually from San Francisco, growing up there in the ‘60s as the Bay Area gay community strengthened.
Of course all the guys, including Alex Rodriguez, got a big kick out of Hernandez’s sophomoric joke. All the guys, that is, except Frank Thomas, who chuckled at Ortiz’s gesture but got stoic quickly when Hernandez made his crack.
Is what Hernandez said “homophobic” per se? It doesn’t feel good. Should we be demanding his suspension? Marching on Fox Sports headquarters? No. We’ve heard a lot worse than this, and heck, maybe Hernandez was saying he wouldn’t mind a tongue to the cheek.
Yet the homophobia of it comes from a couple places. There are lots of places Hernandez could have gone with Ortiz’s joke. He had to go the “No Homo” route.
It’s also foolishly outdated and sophomoric, harkening back to a time in the ‘70s and ‘80s when San Francisco was the home of the queers. Gay men are from every corner of society, just as they always have been. Today they are out and proud in every city in America. Hernandez’s crack smacks us back to a time when gay men were dying of a plague.
Yet maybe more than anything else, my frustration comes from what seems to be a regular stream of idiotic comments and slurs coming from athletes and people across sports this year. It would be really nice if it stopped.