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Boston Red Sox end of season press conference Photo by Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images

Chaim Bloom Doesn’t Know What The Word ‘Inclusive’ Means

Because it sure as hell doesn’t apply to Matt Dermody

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In 2015, Tyler Dunnington, a pitcher who had been drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals the year before, retired after just one season of minor league baseball. His family and friends at the time did not understand why. Sure, as a 28th-round draft pick he was a long shot to ever make the Majors. But he’d dedicated his entire life to baseball and just had his first taste of the pros. How could he give up after only one season in which he put up a 3.41 ERA in 29 innings pitched?

What his family, friends, and teammates didn’t know at the time was that Dunnington was gay. And after spending his entire life surrounded by the casual homophobia that’s rampant in the baseball world — which included being a witness to multiple clubhouse conversations about killing gay people — he couldn't take it anymore. As he told our sister site Out Sports a year later, he felt he had a choice to make: be an openly gay man, or be a baseball player. He couldn’t be both.

Tonight, the Boston Red Sox will start a pitcher named Matt Dermody who believes that all gay people are going to hell. He also believes that both the COVD-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine were deep state conspiracies, that the global elite is conducting “a final war” against people like him, and that Anthony Fauci should be hanged on live television.

Sam Kennedy, Chaim Bloom, and the Red Sox leadership have made it clear that they don’t have a problem with this. In fact, Bloom says it would be a problem if they did:

. . . if we’re committed to creating an (inclusive) environment, it’s not right for us to police what people believe.

Yup, that’s right, Chaim Bloom pulled the ol’ “actually you’re the one being intolerant” move in defense of the Red Sox employing someone who thinks that a significant portion of their fanbase and many of their own employees don’t have a right to exist.

It’s absurd on its face for Bloom to use the idea of inclusivity in defense of someone like Matt Dermody, because the obvious truth is that the baseball world has always been inclusive to people like Matt Dermody. Both Evangelical Christianity and homophobia are tightly woven throughout the culture of baseball in America. Last June, five members of the Tampa Bay Rays peeled rainbow patches off their jerseys on what was supposed to be Pride Night at Tropicana Field. In 2012, Blue Jays infielder Yunel Escobar took the field with an anti-gay slur written on his eye black. Sean Doolittle has had slurs hurled at him in Major League ballparks for merely supporting LGBTQ+ issues.

It is neither surprising, nor a coincidence that, while the NFL, NBA, and MLS have all featured actively gay players, Major League Baseball has not. In fact, there have only been three players to come out as gay even after they retired. The most recent of those is TJ House, who last played in the Major Leagues six years ago and finally came out with a heartfelt post announcing his engagement this past December. In the announcement, he made it clear what a struggle it was to be a closeted ballplayer:

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every moment of my playing days, and I would go the same route again if I had the chance (with one big change). But even with all the money, fancy cars, nice clothes and a little tiny bit of fame, I would go home every night wishing I could change. Deep down I wanted something more, I wanted to be loved not for what I did, but who I was.

I know most would say, “ you never really gave me a chance to love you for who you are because we didn’t know”. You’re right, I gave very few that chance. I’ve sat in many rooms, listened to conversations around me, sat in pews at church, and read posts that have led me to act otherwise. It’s hard listening to people talk about you without them knowing that the words they are saying are directed at you.

House spent 12 years in professional baseball. Most of that was in the minors, though he had some successes in parts of four big league seasons, putting up a 117 ERA+ as a rookie starter with Cleveland. His last stint in the Majors was in 2017, when he was teammates with Matt Dermody.

Chaim Bloom says he wants to create an inclusive environment. But the word “inclusive” is rendered meaningless when it’s applied in defense of someone like Dermody, whose continued acceptance by the baseball world — while gay ballplayers still do not feel comfortable coming out — is an implicit endorsement of his views. To put it simply: baseball has never been inclusive specifically because of people like Matt Dermody.

As of today, 20,369 people have played Major League Baseball throughout its history. Not a single one of those people has ever had to decide between being an Evangelical Christian and a baseball player. But the number of Tyler Dunnington’s out there —the ballplayers who gave up, or lost their love for the game, or felt forced to lie every single day throughout their careers — is unknowable.

So it’s great that the Red Sox want to create an inclusive environment. But they need to decide if that environment is inclusive to Matt Dermody or to Tyler Dunnington. Because it can’t be both.

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