St. Louis Cardinals: Better Angels of Nature


The St. Louis Cardinals were rocked with news on Wednesday of homophobic statements in the organization and the impact of these alleged statements on the walk-away decision of Tyler Dunnington.

Before diving into this editorial, I feel it is important to share a few disclosures.  In my dissertation these were referred to as delimitations, or those items I need to disclose as to what I am leaving out of the discussion.

For starters, the St. Louis Cardinals are my favorite sports organization but I will not allow this to cloud my view.  My personal opinion of homosexuality will also be placed aside.  This editorial will not be about either of these things.

To the facts, or what we know are facts, Tyler Dunnington, a 28th-round pick of the Cardinals in 2014, was quoted in an article posted by on March 16 stating that he walked away from baseball due to homophobic statements made by coaches and players.

In the article, Dunnington says he experienced years of anti-gay statements.  Dunnington left the Cardinals organization in 2014 and officially retired before the start of the 2015 spring training.

Upon the disbursement of this article, Twitter exploded.  In the course of this day, I heard and read the following statements:

“This is horrible.”

“How could this happen in the Cardinals organization?”

“I cannot believe this happened.”

And so on.  In fact, in an article of response published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, GM John Mozeliak stated that these events are, “very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member, and employee feels they are treated equally and fairly”. Furthermore, as is quoted in the article, Mozeliak states that the organization will take the allegations seriously and will deeply investigate.

“This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member, and employee feels they are treated equally and fairly.” GM John Mozeliak

Let me state unequivocally that it is a shame when anyone of any ilk feels uncomfortable and out of place regardless of his/her condition or personal choices.  Let me add that I find myself drawn directly to one statement that I heard over and over again today that resonates with me as the real crux of this issue: “I’m surprised this happened [here/now/in the Cardinals organization].”

I am not surprised.  I am not surprised that players of differences are made to feel this way here, now, in baseball, or in the Cardinals organization.  I am not surprised that homosexual players are ostracized in baseball.  All we need to do is reference Michael Sam with the St. Louis Rams to see this activity in sports.  This is not an excuse but illustrates why I am not surprised.

I am not surprised not to admonish athletics but instead to illustrate a natural piece of humanity: the recognition of differences.  The struggle, however, that we are facing as a genus is our inability to recognize differences without categorizing or editorializing. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached on the utopia that one day would fall when people would notice a difference but react without judgment.

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This stands true here too.  I long for the day when humanity can disrobe the power of editorializing our differences.  I long for the day when we can put aside our personal feelings of right and wrong and instead recognize a difference as just that– a difference between two people.

For in that recognition, we will strip away all negative connotations and will instead exist as we truly are, with and without our differences.

So, no, I’m not surprised by this story.  No, I’m not surprised that coaches and players made statements that made this homosexual player (a difference) feel uncomfortable.  I won’t even entertain the question of whether coaches and teammates should be held to a higher level of expectation because- quite simply- we all should be held to a higher level of expectation.

Abraham Lincoln, when faced with a country divided by differences, stated, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

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I pray that the better angels of our nature will one day ascend and we will be able to look at a person and say, I see your difference, I recognize your difference, but these differences have no bearing on how I treat you.