OpEd: The Line Drives in My Life

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Dodgers Stadium in L.A.

If life teaches us any lessons, it is that too many of the lessons come too late. Actually, that may not be true, but it sounds very brilliant and incisive.

The truth is, as my mom used to say, you can change anything you want about your life on any day you choose to- just get the seat of your pants up off the seat of your chair.

Of course, mom, there are limitations. I suspect now that I am collecting social security it is unlikely that the Los Angeles Dodgers will put me on their World Series roster. But I will be there anyway. Just in case.

There are no passions that have driven my life more than the love of baseball. In many ways, baseball mirrors life. It is a sport where you have to be willing to endure failure in order to succeed. In fact, when he retired as the greatest home run hitter of all time in the 1940’s, Babe Ruth also led both leagues in strikeouts.

Unlike football, where quarterbacks are expected to complete 75 percent of their passes, a good hitter in baseball only gets a hit about three times out of ten. Life is like that too. We don’t win every game, but you only get your chance if you enter the arena and compete.

Anyway, the point is fundamentally simple. In life, like in sports, if you don’t succeed, try, try again.

As for trying again, let’s give Dean Trantalis a hand for a second run for mayor of Fort Lauderdale. He won’t go down without a fight and this time he has some kick!

The voice of the LGBT community is entitled to be heard. Having a gay mayor in South Florida sends a message to the rest of the world that we are metropolitan, not Neanderthal. Jack Seiler never saw that. He was too busy masturbating with the power brokers.

If that offends Jack Seiler, I meant to. He offended me when he refused to support gay marriage. He had a chance to advance us a base, but he played it safe, thinking it will help him become attorney general or governor. It won’t.

In baseball, you can’t steal second base and move up until you risk taking a lead off first. The batter tries to advance the runner any way he can. The idea is to score and bring home a run, but you can’t always hit a home run. We had to play nine innings. We were fortunate to have courageous pioneers in South Florida, like the Dolphin Democrats, move the needle forward for us.

The Supreme Court validated gay marriages in America only last year, in June of 2016, but we did not knock it out of the park right away. First came civil unions, then long-time companions, and then domestic partnerships. Now we have event planners hosting wedding ceremonies on the beach. Rainbows come only after the rain.

Meanwhile, there are still no professional gay baseball players willing to come out of the closet, though there are ever so many playing the game. Once there were no men or women running for office willing to say they were gay.

See the ads in SFGN at election time and you know that is no longer the case in our courts and our communities. Gays have a seat at the table. We will one day at home plate too. But in politics today, our paper may be more interested in what you say then who you sleep with.

Being gay has not stymied major league owners, umpires or even a random pro soccer or basketball player from reaching success. That does not mean the road is not rocky. It’s always easier to come out in an individual sport, where 20 of your teammates are not around to make jokes about you being a ‘faggot.’ That’s the way it has been for a long time.

I can’t count how many times I heard the locker room rallying cry: “Beat these guys. They are fairies.” And what did you say? Nothing, so as not to rock the boat? It’s time to if you have not. Be silent no more.

Today, pro sports has made it safer to be gay than Hollywood ever did for women starring in a Harvey Weinstein film. What a bastard he is. Slander a gay athlete in the NFL, NBA, NHL, or MLB and you yourself will face a stiff fine or suspension. Diversity matters.

You want to know why Harvey Weinstein got away with his filth? Greed and gold governed over goodness and grace. The money was flowing, so everyone looked the other way. No one wanted to shake up the status quo. Promise me you won’t be one of those people.

Like Tom Petty, don’t ever back down, and don’t let the battle discourage you. Make it celebratory and challenge the pitcher. America is the land of the second chances, and in baseball you get three strikes. Don’t worry if you foul a few off on the way home. We all do.

I can’t tell you when your turn to bat will come, and I can’t tell you I will still be here when it does. But make it count. Get your swings in. Stand your ground and drive the ball. The line drive hit you get today may unearth the bases for another person tomorrow.

 


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