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Jock Talk: A Cardinal omission

by Roger Brigham

Former Cardinals player Lance Berkman
Former Cardinals player Lance Berkman  

I know, I know: the ooze of semi-canards, misrepresentations, and bald-faced lies flowing daily from the bowels of Washington, D.C. stretches credibility to its utmost limits. Yet somehow, Major League Baseball's St. Louis Cardinals have managed to outdo the professional political fibbers.

The Cardinals told a reporter last week that "Major League Baseball and its member clubs do not credential web/blog sites," and therefore they would not give him a press pass to cover last Sunday's "Christian Day" game against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

At least, not if he was writing for that 17-year-old fly-by-night website, Outsports.

Nothing to do, of course, with the fact that one of the featured postgame speakers was former player Lance Berkman, who campaigned against LGBT rights two years ago, including calling transgender women "troubled men who claim to be women" – a statement that bolstered a successful defeat of a Houston anti-discrimination referendum.

Other speakers included current Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, pitchers Adam Wainwright and Zach Duke, and announcer Rick Horton.

I've been in and around professional sports and their press rooms for the better part of four decades. I've seen a bunch of bogus reasons used to deny reporters press credentials, often because of gender or race. But press rooms more and more have been opened to a growing diversity of reporters, and with an explosion of social media and websites covering more and more sports, pro sports have increasingly granted access to non-print and non-broadcast news outlets.

Just think of some of the jokers you've seen credentialed for Super Bowls or for baseball's All-Star Game.

Outsports is not some dilettante blog site run by millennials with too much time on their hands. It is an established, serious news site that has provided encouragement and safe haven for tens of thousands of LGBT athletes, fans, and coaches who often found the sports world too unaccepting. It has enabled hundreds of athletes and coaches to come out of the closet. It has undertaken serious stories with serious results.

Including the issue of lingering homophobia in Major League Baseball.

The reporter, Associated Press Sports Editors member Erik Hall, said the Cardinals press office told him to forget getting a press pass: buy a ticket.

"So I did," Hall wrote. "It marks the first time Outsports was denied a media credential in its 17-year history, according to co-founder Jim Buzinski. Outsports has been credentialed to cover Super Bowls and NFL games, Final Fours, the MLS Cup, MLB games, USOC events, and even the ESPYs. I've previously covered MLB games in San Diego and Chicago and events as big as the Stanley Cup Final. But at a Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks game in late July, the Busch Stadium press box – which has hosted three World Series and an All-Star Game – didn't have room."

(For Hall's story on his experience, see https://www.outsports.com/2017/7/31/16067272/st-louis-cardinals-christian-day-lgbt-lance-berkman.)

Hell of an inn you've got there, Mary. I mean, it's not like he was asking you to bake him a wedding cake, was it?

By the by, the Cardinals will host their first Pride Night later this month. Imagine how that will go.

 

Shoe-in-mouth disease

At a routine summer basketball game in Las Vegas last weekend, LaVar Bell, the headline-grabbing father of Los Angeles Lakers' draft pick Lonzo Bell, managed to draw two technicals, get a female referee ejected for no damned reason other than she called one of those falls, bring the game to a premature end, and sever a longstanding relationship between an officials' organization and the tournament sponsor.

After a female referee called a technical foul of LaVar Bell, who was coaching a team on which another one of his sons, LaMelo, plays, the father refused to continue play if the referee was not replaced.

Stout fellows that they are, Adidas, the tournament sponsor, complied. The official was replaced with one who had the correct anatomy to make him eligible to be the pope and the game proceeded – until the senior Bell got called for another technical. That one carried an automatic ejection, but Ball would not leave.

At which point the game ended, damage done.

Court Club Elite, which has had a relationship with Adidas for several years and provided the officials for the tournament, immediately severed ties with the sports apparel company.

Adidas made a belated apology.

"The referee substitutions made during our tournament last week are not in line with our company values," the company said in a statement Monday. "It was the wrong decision. We regret the situation and are looking into the matter to make sure our standards for sportsmanship, equality and fair play are met in the future."

So glad the Warriors won't be dealing with this nonsense.

 

Gay Games X scholarships available for athletes

Applications for scholarships for next year's Gay Games X in Paris are available online through October 1.

The scholarship program is designed to help "increase the diversity of Gay Games participants by helping financially-challenged persons to participate in the Gay Games. The program also aims to assist candidates from under-represented cultures and regions where there is great risk to LGBTIQ persons."

Various scholarships are designed to help with travel expenses, accommodations, or basic registration fees. Scholarship funds are not being offered for conference events.

Applicants must be 18 by August 4, 2018; have a passport good through February 12, 2019 or later; and pay any visa fees required. Attendance for scholarship recipients at an orientation session August 4, 2018 and a scholarship debriefing August 12, 2018 is mandatory.

To apply, visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GG10-Scholarship-Application.

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