Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Liam Hendriks before a June 2023 game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. | Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Talkin’ Gaysball, where we always swipe right on Australian pitchers whose interests are LGBTQ rights and vulgarity.

One perk of writing about LGBTQ allies in baseball is that I’ve picked up a bunch of new favorite players over the past few years.

Red Sox relief pitcher Liam Hendriks is at the top of that list. Even before I ever got an Outsports byline, I already liked Hendriks for fully embracing the “raging Australian closer” archetype as his on-field persona. 

For instance, his miked up appearance in the 2021 All Star Game sounded like what would happen if Hugh Jackman developed a condition where he could only communicate by screaming David Mamet dialogue. He was the epitome of a fun baseball dude.

Then in 2022, Hendriks revealed that when he spoke with the White Sox as a free agent, he asked them “Do you guys have a Pride Night?” and let them know that this was a requirement in order for him to sign.

If there was a Cy Young for allyship, Hendriks would’ve clinched the next five in a row.

Since then, though, he’s had a rough go of it healthwise. After the 2022 season, Hendriks revealed he had been diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. 

Then when treatments sent the cancer into remission and Hendriks took the mound for one of the most inspirational moments of 2023, he blew out his elbow after only five appearances and underwent Tommy John surgery.

LGBTQ fans could be forgiven for thinking, “Even if I can’t give Liam a ligament, could I still donate some karma?”

Since signing with the Red Sox this offseason, Hendriks has been rehabbing in the hopes of returning for the second half of 2024. Most players coming back from this kind of injury tend to avoid traveling with their teams because they don’t to give the appearance of hanging around when they can’t contribute on the field.

However, as Hendriks revealed to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey, he has gone on every road trip Boston has made this year. The reason?

He’s visiting hospitals in each road city and meeting with cancer patients to try and make their day a little better.

“Whenever I go somewhere, it’s not just me going, it’s like I’m actually going to accomplish something by going there. It’s just a situation where sometimes it’s the people that have gone through something that you can help with and they can help you,” he said.

Hendriks hasn’t played a game this year and he’s still leading the league in saves.

This is a moment I can’t wait to see in 2024.
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

For LGBTQ fans who have seen him step up for organizations like Chicago’s Center on Halsted and Howard Brown Health, it feels like nothing could sum him up better. At a time where everyone would understand if he concentrated on his own health, he’s purposely made road trips to uplift other patients facing what he’s gone through.

When Hendriks takes the mound for the first time for Boston, it will mark two years in a row where he gives us a spine-tingling moment on the field. While Tommy John rehab is a grueling process, hopefully it helps him to know that when he throws that first strike, he’ll do it with our entire community having his back.

MLB Thirst Trap of the Week

It was another milestone week in baseball as Anthony Rizzo followed in the footsteps of Andrew McCutchen and crushed his 300th career home run on Sunday.

Rizzo is my favorite player of the 21st century and there’s a good argument to be made that he’s the most important Chicago Cub of all time. When the Cubs traded for Rizzo in 2012, he became the cornerstone of the team that finally vanquished their 108-year championship drought in the most thrilling and dramatic way conceivable.

I could not be more grateful for everything he has given me as a fan. It’s no exaggeration to say that my baseball life is better because of Rizzo.

At the same time, the fact that he hit No. 300 while wearing a Yankees uniform is the kind of disgrace that causes English major sportswriters to invent words like “catastrabomination.”

When Cubs team president Jed Hoyer decided to kickstart a rebuild by trading Rizzo to The Bronx, something in my fandom shattered and it’s still not close to healing. It is my sincere hope that on the blessed future day when Hoyer is finally fired, he is paraded through the streets of Wrigleyville with Clark the Cub ringing the “Game of Thrones” shame bell.

Nonetheless, seeing Rizzo become just the 161st player in history to reach that landmark number made me over-the-moon proud of my forever captain. 

It also brought me back to how I felt in the wake of the 2016 World Series when Rizzo was one of three Cubs to drop in on an SNL “surprise bachelorette party” sketch dressed as what can only be described as an official MLB Licensed exotic dancer.

Honestly, the only disappointment about Rizzo’s 300th homer was that he didn’t twerk after crossing home plate. Anthony Rizzo forever.