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Please, Just Baseball at Baseball Games

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 @ 12:54 PM Please, Just Baseball at Baseball Games Parrish Alford News Writer/Associate Editor MORE

I took my son on a baseball trip in June in recognition of his graduation from dental school.

I’ve heard folks for years talk about an “East Coast baseball trip.” Well, this was a miniature version of that.

We found enough matching dates to hit three games in three stadiums in two cities. We saw the Yankees and Mets then took a train to Boston and saw the Red Sox.

Scheduling a Major League Baseball vacation in June has the added difficulty of scheduling around “Pride Night” at the ballpark.

It’s not an inexpensive trip when you add travel, hotel, and tickets before you ever get to the $10 souvenir soda.

With that level of commitment, you want everything to be perfect. Sitting quietly amid a celebration of an LGBTQ lifestyle our God tells us is wrong is not my vision of that.

You go to these magical ballparks, and you want to see the iconic uniforms, not a rainbow variant.

I suspected we’d avoid the Pride uniforms because I’d checked the community calendars for each team and saw that we would dodge Pride Night at each place, not easy to do in June.

I didn’t realize when we took off from Memphis that we were guaranteed to see the traditional jerseys because of a quiet directive made by MLB to its clubs way back in February. It took a Tampa Bay Times report alerting its readers that Pride Night would not include rainbow-themed caps or uniform patches for the news to begin to bubble to the surface.

The Tampa Bay Rays made headlines in 2022 when several Christian pitchers balked at wearing Pride gear. According to The Times, MLB owners discussed this season’s uniform plans at an owners’ meeting in February.

Not only did owners remember the media coverage of five Rays pitchers standing up for their beliefs, but the meeting came while the National Hockey League was also struggling with Pride uniforms. Several of its players and two teams from its biggest market – New York’s Islanders and Rangers – had opted out altogether.

MLB owners must not have been proud of their decision to let it fly under the radar.

Pro sports teams need to get out of politics anyway.

I wrote sports for almost 40 years. I chose journalism not because I wanted to change the world but because I wanted to get into games for free.

I grew up at a time when only a couple of games were on television and watching both meant getting up and changing the channel by hand. For me, the forerunner of the ticker across the bottom of the screen was WAFB in Baton Rouge scrolling across with quarter score updates of the happenings at LSU on a Saturday night.

Watching college football at all was a rare treat but watching it in person was something really special.

Football, baseball, basketball – insert your favorite sport – are all places people go, to borrow from Billy Joel, “to forget about life for a while.”

At some point pro and college sports teams discovered marketing and with it the belief that they could sell more tickets when they promote certain groups or causes.

Paul Putz, assistant director of the Faith & Sports Institute, traces faith night at the ballpark back to Baltimore in the 1950s.

The once-simple concept of a promotional game becomes more complicated when teams are concerned with alienating certain groups, namely the LGBTQ community which carries a certain amount of political clout. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ dance with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made them classic examples of how to alienate everyone.

The San Francisco-based ‘Sisters’ are drag queens who dress as nuns. They’ve been around a long time, and their website says they’re active in community service. The Catholic church takes offense as they belittle nuns with hyper-sexualized stage acts. The church has spoken out, but all Christians should be offended when the cross of Christ is used as a prop in these displays.

The Dodgers invited the ‘Sisters’ to their Pride celebration, received the appropriate backlash, then withdrew the invitation. But the backlash wasn’t finished. The LGBTQ supporters voiced their disapproval, and the Dodgers were forced to pick a side. They folded and reinvited the ‘Sisters.’

On the surface, the Dodgers simply joined 28 other MLB teams who scheduled a Pride game in 2023. The outlier in the group is the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers' reasoning remains a mystery because they’ve refused comment on the issue to a number of media outlets including American Family News.

This season the Rangers not only continued their stance of not scheduling a Pride game they also scheduled “community nights” for three Christian universities – Abilene Christian, Hardin-Simmons, and Baylor.

None of the three schools returned a request for comment by AFN.

The Dodgers not only celebrated Pride, they took it to a new level by honoring a group that showed its intolerance by attacking Jesus Christ. Not to intentionally defend the Dodgers, but it wouldn’t be shocking if no one in their organization peeled back the layers enough to understand how offensive the ‘Sisters’ are to the Christian faith.

The Pride celebration was diminished and boycotted outside the stadium, according to reports.

Maybe pro sports are slowly beginning to take a cue from parents speaking out at school board meetings across the country.

It would sure make planning those June baseball trips easier.

Let’s hope for that.

And let’s hope the next dad-dentist trip is dutch.

(Editor's note: click HERE for a column Parrish wrote for AFN about this subject matter.)

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