Is San Diego Ready?

On Monday, Nate took a look at the Michael Sam news and wondered when the time would come for baseball to welcome its first openly gay player. Nate finished with this:

Maybe it will be a member of the Padres. You never know. Why not?

The factors that would go into the decision to be the first openly gay player in your professional sport seem innumerable – but the scenario got me thinking nonetheless. Why not the Padres?

Why not the Padres?

Would the city of San Diego itself be a welcoming place for a trailblazer?

San Diego leans conservative as a whole but voting patterns from Proposition 8 in 2008 show that there were many communities against the banning of same sex marriages. Beach communities like Ocean Beach, Del Mar, and La Jolla as well as communities closer to downtown San Diego like Hillcrest, North Park, and South Park all voted overwhelmingly against Prop 8. Other communities that turned out high “No” votes were in the college areas like UCSD (79%) and SDSU (73%). These patterns show a level of acceptance within the varied communities of San Diego which could factor into a player’s decision to come out.

Would the Padres team have the right composition of players to accept an openly gay teammate?

The composition of the Padres locker room is kind of impossible to answer since we’re not in it – but allow me to speculate for a moment. If we were to examine the voting patterns of college students from the 2008 Prop 8 initiative we see that these voters are a little more liberal and accepting of alternative lifestyles. Intuitively this makes sense as a college campus is a pretty big melting pot of diversity. So perhaps a team laden with former college players could aid the transition of an openly gay player. Let’s see how the Padres 40-Man Roster stacks up:

Andrew Cashner (TCU), Jesse Hahn (Va Tech), Ian Kennedy (USC), Cory Luebke (Ohio State), Donn Roach (Arizona/College of Southern Nevada), Tyson Ross (UC- Berkeley), Burch Smith (Oklahoma), Tim Stauffer (Richmond), Huston Street (Texas), Eric Stults (Bethel College), Dale Thayer (CSU Chico), Nick Vincent (CSU Long Beach), Yasmani Grandal (Miami), Nick Hundley (Arizona), Yonder Alonso (Miami), Jedd Gyorko (West Virginia), Chase Headley (Pacific/Tennessee), Ryan Jackson (Miami), Tommy Medica (Santa Clara), Chris Denorfia (Wheaton College), Carlos Quentin (Stanford), Seth Smith (Mississippi), and  Will Venable (Princeton).

That’s 23 out of 40 players who spent time in college, or 58% of the Padres’ 40-Man roster. Regardless of college experience the entire roster seems like a genuinely good group of guys – but like I said, we’re not in the locker room. We don’t know.

Would an openly gay player find himself crushed under the intense scrutiny of San Diego’s media?

Is there a more mellow sports media vibe in the country than the one here in San Diego? While the city of Chicago has four daily newspapers America’s Finest City is down to one – a media circus would initially pop up on the road but for 81 games a year San Diego wouldn’t be a bad place for MLB’s first openly gay player.

This is all speculation, none of which really matters unless a gay player choose to come out like Michael Sam did last week. Regardless of the date certain it seems evident that the day will come sooner than later and when it does baseball players will do what all humans do during moments of change – they will adapt.

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I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly outraged by the location of statues around Petco Park. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM. The dusty archives of AJM are located at avengingjm.blogspot.com

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