The St. Louis Cardinals lied when the team's communications coordinator used a non-existent Major League Baseball policy to deny Outsports a credential to cover Christian Day activities featuring former Cardinal Lance Berkman, who has campaigned against LGBT rights.
"Major League Baseball and its member clubs do not credential web/blog sites," read part of an email sent by Chris Tunno, Communications Coordinator for the Cardinals, to Erik Hall, a writer Outsports had assigned to cover the July 30 game at Busch Stadium.
"Lastly, Major League Baseball and its member clubs credential only those media wishing to cover teams and their players, where a theme night would not fall under that category."
What Tunno wrote is not true. An MLB spokeswoman said that for regular season games "clubs are allowed to use their own discretion for whom they credential." As for theme nights, "it's up to their own discretion," the spokeswoman said.
In fact, Outsports reported that one St. Louis LGBT website has been credentialed to cover an unofficial Pride Night at a Cardinals game for three straight years. We asked Tunno to comment, but he did not respond to our request.
Now we’re left wondering, why did the Cardinals blatantly lie to us in rejecting our request? And why did the team reject the request in the first place? It’s clear that the Cardinals and Tunno were free to credential Outsports for their July 30 home game. So why did they not credential us, and then why did they blatantly lie about it?
Some have jumped to accusations of homophobia. I can understand why. It was in the Cardinals’ organization that former Minor League Tyler Dunnington heard some pretty anti-gay language. Plus, the Cardinals embracing anti-LGBT activist Berkman is tough to swallow.
The Cardinals are certainly not the most LGBT-friendly MLB team. Yet if they were just being homophobic with us, why have they credentialed Boom.lgbt for a game each of the last three seasons? Homophobia rears its ugly head everywhere, and it may have been at play in the background here, but I don’t personally think that’s the biggest reason for the refusal.
Much more likely is that they were trying to protect Berkman and current players and coaches from being asked questions about LGBT and religious issues. That’s a sad state for the Cardinals, who created a controversy by inviting Berkman to speak then refused to offer any substantive commentary on it.
Even more sad is their willingness to lie to Hall and Outsports so blatantly. The reasons given for our credential refusal were patently false and easily proven as such. We deserve an apology for such unprofessional treatment by the Cardinals.
The team has continued to hide, refusing to comment on the lies they told Outsports.
Hopefully they will honor our request for a credential to Pride Night, despite the false reasons they gave us for refusing our Christian Day request.