Ah those loveable Chicago Cubs! One of the most futile franchises in professional sports may not raise eyebrows on the field but inadvertently managed to raise some issues regarding gays and sportscasting.
On June 29, for the first time in 82 years, the Cubs did not schedule a Sunday game at Wrigley Field. The reason for this anomaly is that traffic congestion and gridlock would cause a commuting nightmare near the venerable ballpark due to the fact Chicago is holding its annual LGBT Pride parade in the area.The Washington Nationals—one of my favorite teams—played the weekend at Chicago and were the recipients of this rare Sunday off (as were the Cubs, of course). The Nats’ TV announcers, Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo pointed out several times from the series leading up to the Nats’ date with the Cubbies into the weekend itself that a game would not be played on Sunday because of a “pride parade.”
There was no further explanation provided. It wasn’t described as a “gay pride parade” or maybe an “LGBT pride parade,” just a generic, non-controversial “pride parade.” Santangelo did admit he understands the reason for not scheduling the game but all he offered was his lament that he cannot spend a Saturday night out in the Windy City.The avoidance by this broadcasting duo to impart the true reason for the non-scheduling of the Sunday game came as no surprise given that they never mentioned, to my knowledge, the semi-annual Night Out with the Nationals events.
But wait. The second game of a day-night doubleheader on Saturday was telecast over Fox. An opportunity between pitches existed for play-by-play man Kenny Albert, a son of sportscasting legend Marv Albert, and the aforementioned F.P. Santangelo doing the color for the telecast to explain to perhaps to a different audience why the Sunday game was not scheduled. Albert described it as a “pride parade” but he hesitated before “pride.”It was almost like he wanted to say “gay pride” or something like that but caught himself as if he was about to drop the “f-bomb.” It may have been an equivalent the way he paused.
At least the word “pride” was used during the week and the hope that most people would be sufficiently knowledgeable so that the dreaded “g-word” would not have to be uttered.The Orioles telecast on Sunday presented another opportunity. But instead of chalking up the scheduling matter in Chicago as some form of pride event, Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne threw “pride" under the bus. He avoided it altogether referring to the traffic snarls being caused by a Wrigleyville parade. Good gracious!
Famed sports broadcaster Howard Cosell always believed that people in that profession are journalists and should report events factually and truthfully: "telling it like it is," he used to preach. The reluctance to utter "gay pride" by these announcers failed the Cosell test.
One cannot draw any conclusions from this nonsense because we don’t know what the producers want their announcers to say or avoid saying. Nonetheless, it demonstrates that if the subject of a gay baseball player surfaces for whatever reason, there is still discomfort in the booth, and that’s something to which we should pay attention.