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McGrath: The Blue Jays screwed up Anthony Bass and failed the LGBTQ+ community in the process

McGrath: The Blue Jays screwed up Anthony Bass and failed the LGBTQ+ community in the process

TORONTO – Over the past eleven days, the Blue Jays have disappointed and hurt the LGBTQ+ community. However, Sean Addis, a gay man who is a longtime Blue Jays fan, found himself sitting in the 500 section of Rogers Center before weekend festivities on Friday.

“I didn’t feel like anyone was listening to the community,” said Addis, who brought mixed feelings with him after watching his favorite team juggle what could have been a straight decision over Anthony Bass.

The 35-year-old with an ERA of 4.95 has spent the last 11 days on the list after publicly endorsing a hateful anti-LGBTQ video on his social media. But during his flight from Ottawa to Toronto, Addis learned that Bass had been assigned to the task on Fridays, of all days. It was a decision that General Manager Ross Atkins would later classify as primarily a baseball move.

“I checked the phone and saw it was in DFA and I got emotional again, not in a good way,” Addis said. “I really thought? That’s the day you’re going to do it. I didn’t know why. I’ll be honest with you. I have a lot of conflicting[thoughts]because part of me is like, Why now? What changed in one day?”

actually. If the Blue Jays claim to care about LGBTQ+ fans and inclusivity in general, they’ve done a poor job of showing it over the past two weeks with their mishandling of Bass mode. In those 11 days, the Blue Jays kept Bass on the roster, instead of immediately DFA sending a message to LGBTQ+ fans. And it wasn’t good.

The savior had two opportunities to make a public apology, neither of which felt genuine or satisfactory to members of the LGBTQ+ community the athlete Talk to him within the last 24 hours in the aftermath. (For the uninitiated, he keeps calling it the “Pride community,” which is nothing.) On Thursday, Bass defended his “personal beliefs,” in which the video called for a boycott of brands like Target and Budweiser for their support of Pride initiatives. with. He said he only took the position because it was a “distraction”.

Management, meanwhile, made little more than a statement distancing itself from “individual players’ feelings” in the immediate aftermath. It was only on Thursday — 10 days later — that Atkins finally told reporters he took “Bass’ accountability to be authentic” when he apologized to the general manager, manager, and teammates.

“I don’t feel like Anthony wants any harm or for anyone to feel anything less than equal,” Atkins said Friday.

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However, after his comments on Thursday, it was clear that Bass still didn’t realize how harmful his actions and words were. His behavior becomes a distraction for the team as well.

But if you think this is the moment when the organization will finally make it clear that they have strongly condemned his views, that they don’t align with team culture and that’s why he’s gone, well, you thought wrong. Standing on the goal line with an open net to score some much-needed PR points, and finally defend a community that’s been hit hard in recent weeks, Atkins stated that adding Mitch White and hiring Bass was about “building the ‘best team possible’.”

“There are a lot of variables that go into every decision, but the focus is putting together the best possible team we can make,” he said, adding that Bass’ situation “became a distraction” and that was “a variable in that decision.”

Blue Jays manager John Schneider takes questions about Anthony Bass. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

But, again, why now? The club could have decided on baseball 11 days earlier when Bass was still the weak link in baseball. He would have been a DFA at the time, and another reliever would certainly have filled his place. Perhaps the Blue Jays were worried about a complaint from the MLBPA. Evidently, the club also believed Bass when he said he would educate himself, only to be swayed when his apology did more harm than good.

Major League Baseball is a business, and none of us are naive about that. It was believed that the Blue Jays were shopping for Bass – who in recent days has also expressed interest in leaving the organization, as he no longer felt he could perform, according to a key league source. The team almost traded him this week. Now they have 10 days to do so. If they don’t, he will be released and will be able to sign elsewhere.

Listening to Atkins talk about the decisions and variables of baseball, what I kept thinking were the members of the LGBTQ+ community — and their allies — who felt betrayed and disappointed throughout this ordeal. I asked Atkins about the whole play of keeping Bass on the team for 11 days, doing unnecessary harm to an already under attack community across North America, only for DFA in the end.

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“I hope we can get that back if that’s the case,” said Atkins. “We definitely don’t want anyone to feel hurt. We focus on the environment. We care about this community, we care about our fans. And I’m terribly sorry if people felt that way, (certainly) it wasn’t our intention. And these are very difficult decisions with a lot of variables.” into which it enters.”

I’ve spent the past day or so reaching out to Blue Jays fans who are members of the LGBTQ+ community. At first, I was interested to hear how they were feeling about Bass Incident hanging out at the Pride weekend festivities, especially considering he was supposed to catch the premiere festive show. It was an idea that Bass & Pride Toronto CEO Sherron Modest approved of when they met earlier this week, but it has met resistance from the community and is expected to draw boos from the crowd if it happens.

When speaking to LGBTQ+ fans about Bass’ actions and comments, and the reaction of the Blue Jays, the sentiment was described with words such as exhaustedAnd Destroyed And conflicting.

“It just doesn’t seem like enough,” said Angelo Persico, who said he hoped the front office would release Bass immediately. “I feel like they’re protecting this player who might have been – I understand it’s a business too – but he was probably one of the worst players on the list the whole season. And I don’t know why they’re protecting him so much.”

On the issue of supporting the club during the weekend’s festivities, there were mixed feelings too. Stephanie Malik told me she had long felt conflicted about her fandom. You remember when former players Lionel Escobar and Kevin Pilar were involved in homophobic incidents. (These two players received multi-game suspensions from the team; Bass received no internal discipline.) And while Malik understood why so many people supported the club’s Pride celebrations, she couldn’t do it.

Malik said, “Everyone celebrates their identity and their own dignity, for lack of a better word, in the way they choose.” “I would never hold that against anyone looking for a place where they feel they can be welcomed. Also in that case, be around a lot of other gay people who are also fans of the Jays. But I just know my ticket money that weekend.” It would appear to be a symbol of support for the club and I really don’t want to give them my money, especially for that initiative, until they show it is something beyond a marketing ploy to put their logo next to a rainbow.”

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Still, Nicole Burke attended Friday night’s game, despite mixed feelings.

“The team has created an event over the past several years that is meant to be a safe place for the LGBTQ+ community, and Bass’s comments definitely broke that sense of safety and celebration. Regardless, the community deserves to be celebrated,” Burke shared in an email.

Likewise, Justin Havelock attended on Friday. He said while he’s heard from fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community who’ve been feeling torn about their fandom lately, Havelock’s perspective is that “this team is much bigger than Anthony Bass, even the front office.”

“It’s something I couldn’t have imagined as a kid,” he said, “going to a Blue Jays game and seeing people walking around in drag shows and drags and Pride flags everywhere.” “I never imagined growing up. This is definitely something I want to celebrate and enjoy.”

Bass made the first move and met a member of Pride Toronto. Despite the hurt the community felt, two people stated that they still hope Bass continues to learn, and that he continues to connect with the LGBTQ+ community.

“I’m disappointed Bass wasn’t able to use this as an opportunity to grow and to learn how to be an ally,” Havelock said. “We need to make sure that there is a way forward for people who have made mistakes or held negative beliefs in the past but are willing to make the effort to change. Having said that, people need to be willing to make the effort and meet us halfway.”

Meanwhile, as he sat in the 500 division, Addis said that as a 13-year-old boy he was told he had “no place in the sport.” He quit baseball, a sport he loved, shortly thereafter, not picking it up again until he was an adult. On Friday, he was looking out at the rainbow-flagged Rogers Center, and he was thinking of his younger self.

“I have the right to be here and be with the people I want to be and I think that’s important,” he said. “I want to be honest with you. They still need to be held accountable. This is not going away. This is not going to happen. … This is a much deeper issue within the organization.”

(Top photo: Mark Blanch/Getty Images)