Much-missed former music and managing editor Rich Kane (who’s now at the Salt Lake City Tribune) forwarded me an interesting July 7 New York Times story examining why the New York Yankees have yet to hold a gay pride night—one of only four teams with the dishonor. The Times story argued that the Yankees are so slow and stodgy that they just haven’t gotten around to it, and not that the organization is homophobic—indeed, they invited Major League Baseball executive Billy Bean (more on him in a bit) to lecture their major and minor league squads about inclusivity, and he told the Grey Lady that “the team had been supportive and that the conversation about pride events was relatively new.”
So who are the other teams holding out? The Cincinnati Reds (which obviously hasn’t burnt enough sage to exorcise the foul ghost of Marge Schott), the Milwaukee Brewers (what’s a Milwaukee?)…and your Anaheim Angels of Anaheim.
As the Times article notes, nights themed around a specific minority are easy moneymakers for professional sports teams, so why don’t the Angels host one? The simplest answer is that Angels owner Arte Moreno probably fears offending the team’s conservative fans in OC and the Inland Empire. Or maybe the annual Harvest Crusade (or whatever the hell they call themselves now) has put a permanent hex on Angel Stadium to ensure gay-pride anything stay as far away as possible? Or is it the avowed conservative Christian beliefs of Moreno and Albert Pujols?
All speculation, of course. But the Angels are missing a golden opportunity—and I’m not talking about just getting more fabulous asses on the seat. It’s all about Bean, an Orange County native who attended Santa Ana High, played for the Angels’ minor league team, and became the second-ever former baseball player to come out as gay (the first, former Los Angeles Dodgers Glenn Burke, also has an Orange County connection: he was friendly with Tommy Lasorda’s gay son, who grew up in Fullerton). Imagine the power and headlines that would come if the Angels got Bean to address his hometown crowd about the importance of inclusivity during the Angels’ first-ever Pride Night?
But, nah, the Angels would rather keep hosting stupid theme nights, like giving away sombreros to set a world record. Or giving away Santa hats to set a world record. Or hold a weekend where fans and announcers were encouraged to dress in disco style. Or…