The Cleveland Guardians are one of the 29 MLB teams defying possible backlash and bringing back Pride Night in 2024. | Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to Talkin’ Gaysball where we’d rather celebrate Pride at Target Field than Target anyway.

Last season, the biggest story to come out of MLB Pride was a group of opportunistic homophobes and religious zealots attempting to turn the Dodgers honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence into a PR nightmare for baseball.

In the end, they managed to get themselves in the news by briefly blocking a Dodger Stadium parking lot, thus carrying out the Bible’s most important commandment: Thou shalt momentarily inconvenience thy neighbor’s infrastructure.

Because of that, as I was preparing to assemble the 2024 Pride Night Guide, I was a little wary. In doing my research, I feared that I would discover one or two teams had decided that they didn’t want to deal with that manufactured “controversy” and join the Texas Rangers in sitting out Pride.

It was easy to see last season’s backlash against the Dodgers as part of a bigger anti-LGBTQ campaign spelled out by a tweet from The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh: “The goal is to make ‘Pride’ toxic for brands. If they decide to shove this garbage in our face, they should know they’ll pay a price.”

Now though, I can report with some relief that in 2024, every team that hosted a Pride event last year is bringing it back.

A baseball park prepares for Pride promotion.
Yes, they’re even hosting MLB Pride somewhere in Texas.
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

What’s more, a few special ticket packages like the Mariners Pride jerseys and the Red Sox VIP rainbow belt bags have already sold out before the calendar even turned to June. The only thing Toxic about these Pride events will be a Britney Spears bop blasting through the Fenway Park speakers.

All of this comes during a time when retailers like Target are substantially scaling back rainbow merchandise and a few New York City Pride events are being cancelled due to lack of sponsors.

To be clear: I don’t want this to seem like I’m overpraising MLB for doing what should be the bare minimum to celebrate its LGBTQ fans.

But at a moment where a lot of corporations are taking the easy way out and kowtowing to bigots in order to avoid the “controversy” of acknowledging our humanity, baseball isn’t going down that road.

I don’t know if that should be celebrated as bravery. But it definitely qualifies as “not cowardice.” And for MLB, that’s something.

The Umpire Is Out On Tour

Longtime umpire Ángel Hernández dropped a surprise retirement this week. You might have noticed the moment it happened when every baseball fan on the planet spontaneously responded like this…

It was also a reminder that there are also umpires who retire and make us think, “Hey, I’m really gonna miss that guy!” The most shining example of those men in blue, of course, is Dale Scott.

Over the next month, there will be a couple of opportunities to meet Scott in person and let him know how much the game still values trailblazers like him.

On June 11, he’ll be doing a book signing during Red Sox Pride Night where you’ll have an opportunity to pick up a copy of his tremendously entertaining autobiography “The Umpire Is Out.”

Then on June 15, he will be on the other side of home plate to throw out the first pitch during Twins Pride.

With velo like that, the Twins absolutely need to give Scott the full Jhoan Duran entrance. Cue up the Pitbull…

MLB Thirst Trap of the Week

Next week marks the return of the annual Cubs/White Sox interleague series. During their 2023 clash, the Cubs’ Christopher Morel took a break from being a source of light in the universe to create the signature moment of the season with a come-from-behind game-winning homer.

A walk-off thirst trap in three acts.

It’s subtle but see if you can tell when Morel noticed the ball leave the park.

Baseball player celebrates a home run
So…how was work today?
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

By the time Morel reached third base, his jersey could no longer contain his joy.

Baseball player runs toward home plate.
Christopher Morel’s happiness has no use for your gravity.
Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The final score was: Cubs 4 White Sox 3. 

But just as importantly, it was also: Morel 1 Shirt 0.

Baseball player finishes home run celebrations
This is exactly how I’d feel if I woke up with that chest too.
Credit: Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

Considering the quality of this season’s MLB uniforms, we should all be rooting for Morel to hit as many walk-offs as possible.