Red Sox

CSN Bay Area: Are we ready for next Glenn Burke?


CSN Bay Area: Are we ready for next Glenn Burke?

By Mychael Urban

Sadly, the tail end of "Out. The Glenn Burke Story" rings all too familiar.

Might the end be different were the story to play out right now? Let's hope so. There's reason to believe as much.

Burke, the first openly gay big-league baseball player whose remarkable and tragic story is documented in the compelling Comcast SportsNet Bay Area film that premieres Tuesday night on VERSUS (10 p.m. EDT), died of complications related to AIDS in 1995.

Of course he did, you're probably thinking -- and feeling more than a little guilty for thinking it. It's the uncomfortable little box into which so many people place the plight of homosexuals -- particularly men -- of that decade.

And let's face it: The very idea of homosexuality remains uncomfortable for many, even in what we'd like to think is an age of greater tolerance and enlightenment.

The idea of homosexuality in professional sports? More uncomfortable still -- in male professional sports.

For some reason, and perhaps as evidence that we actually do have greater tolerance and enlightenment than in decades past, we're OK with Martina Navratilova being "out." We make the unfair assumption that many members of the LPGA Tour, the WNBA and the wide-ranging world of women's softball are gay, and there's a collective shrug.

Sure, there will be some less-than-enlightened, crass cracks at the workplace water cooler the day after the WNBA title game or the LPGA Tour Championship. For the most part, though, our society has something of a don't askdon't tell acceptance of homosexuality in women's sport.

Yet the machismo associated with -- and essentially considered a requirement of -- being a star male athlete seems so counter to the notion of a man being attracted to, loving, and living a fulfilling, this-is-who-we-are life with another man that it's difficult to imagine such a man being accepted in that testosterone-fueled world.

Well, guess what? Gay men have testosterone, too. "Out" makes that quite clear at a number of checkpoints along the route of Burke's path.

In one of the most memorable scenes of the film, the Wednesday premier of which will be followed by town-hall, star-studded edition of "Chronicle Live" from the Castro, CSN California A's analyst Shooty Babitt, a former friend and teammate of Burke, details a dugout confrontation between himself and another teammate.

Burke jumped into it, ready to defend Babitt with his fists, and by all accounts Burke was more than capable of handing out a vicious beating. In a refreshing, thought-provoking and illuminating moment of candor that marks the brilliantly produced piece as a whole, Babitt admits that he was internally torn.

He wondered: If I let Glenn help me here, is he going to want something in return?

We all know what something means in this instance, right?

This is Shooty Babitt we're talking about. He was down with Burke in every other way. Both products of the phenomenally fertile athletic ground that was Berkeley in the 1960s and '70s, they shared a kinship, a pride and a goal, if not a lifestyle.

It was that lifestyle that gave Babitt pause in that particular moment, and you could see it in his always animated, expressive eyes: he feels a little sheepish about it now.

Why? Because we are more tolerant and enlightened now. Not as much as we'd like to be; racism still exists even though we have a black President, and as long as there is a political left and right, as long as religion in its many forms exists, there will be raging debates over sexual preferences, acceptance and appropriateness.

Yet Babitt's eyes tell of progress -- and beg the question: Would Burke's lifestyle play in the big leagues, circa 2010?

We'd like to think so, but the fact is that we won't have a definitive answer until a genuine superstar male athlete musters the courage to actually be the question and "come out" in the prime of his career.

Burke might very well have become a superstar had the game not "excused" him, as Reggie Smith so poignantly put it in the film. But it did, and it wasn't difficult to do so because nobody is going to get up in arms over a guy batting .250 being traded or sent to the minors.

Though he wasn't "out" publicly, everybody within the Dodgers and A's organizations knew Burke was gay. Burke's relationship with Tommy Lasorda's gay son prompted the trade to the A's, and Billy Martin's disgusting brand of bigotry sent Burke to the bush leagues.

Had Burke been batting .350? Who knows? It likely wouldn't have swayed Martin, who will forever lose you as a Billy Ball fan if you are one before you see this film, but we all know special players get special treatment.

That's why the first step toward acceptance of gay men in sport would have to be taken by a franchise player at best, a respected veteran All-Star at worst.

Would Derek Jeter have been "excused" from baseball had he used the platform of a World Series parade in New York as his coming-out party? Tim Lincecum? Does Kevin Garnett get run out of Boston if comes out during the NBA Finals? Anyone going to tell Patrick Willis he's no longer welcome in the huddle if he announces he's getting married to a guy named Hank?

Probably not. Performance in male professional sports is king, even if the Billy Martins of the world want to call the man a queen.

We won't know how truly tolerant and enlightened we are, though, until such a moment actually happens.

Until some brave, gifted young man steps up. And "Out."

NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs


NLCS: Dodgers win first pennant since 1988 with 11-1 Game 5 rout of Cubs

CHICAGO -- Enrique Hernandez put a Hollywood ending on an LA story three decades in the making.

Fueled by a home run trilogy from their emotional utilityman, Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers are finally going to the World Series.

Hernandez homered three times and drove in a record seven runs, Kershaw breezed through six crisp innings and Los Angeles ended the Chicago Cubs' title defense with an 11-1 rout in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Thursday night.

"It feels good to hear World Series," Kershaw said. "It's been a long time coming for this team."

After years of playoff heartache, there was just no stopping these Dodgers after they led the majors with 104 wins during the regular season. With Kershaw firing away at the top of a deep pitching staff and co-NLCS MVPs Justin Turner and Chris Taylor leading a tough lineup, one of baseball's most storied franchises captured its first pennant since Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda managed Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser and Co. to Los Angeles' last championship in 1988.

"Every night it is a different guy," Turner said, "and this is one of the most unbelievable teams I've ever been a part of."

Kershaw will be on the mound again when the Dodgers host the New York Yankees or Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night. The Yankees have a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 of the ALCS at Houston on Friday night, so one more New York win would set up another chapter in an old October rivalry between the Yankees and Dodgers.

Los Angeles made the playoffs eight times in the previous 13 seasons and came up short of its 22nd pennant each time, often with Kershaw shouldering much of the blame. The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner took the loss when his team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 6 of last year's NLCS at Wrigley Field.

The ace left-hander was just OK during his first two starts in this year's postseason, but Los Angeles' offense picked him up each time. Backed by Hernandez's powerful show in Chicago, Kershaw turned in an efficient three-hit performance with five strikeouts and improved to 6-7 in the playoffs - matching Burt Hooton's club record for postseason wins.

"To get to be on the mound tonight and get to be going to the World Series on the same night, it's a special thing," Kershaw said. "Who knows how many times I'm going to get to go to the World Series? I know more than anybody how hard it is to get there. So, I'm definitely not taking this one for granted."

When Kenley Jansen retired Willson Contreras on a liner to shortstop for the final out, the party was on . The Dodgers poured out of the dugout and mobbed their dominant closer near the mound, and a small but vocal group of Los Angeles fans gathered behind the visitors' dugout and chanted "Let's go Dodgers! Let's go Dodgers!"

On the field, manager Dave Roberts hugged Lasorda and told the iconic skipper the win was for him.

"I bleed Dodger blue just like you," Roberts said. "Thank you, Tommy."

Hernandez connected on the first two pitches he saw, belting a solo drive in the second for his first career playoff homer and then a grand slam in the third against Hector Rondon. Hernandez added a two-run shot in the ninth against Mike Montgomery.

The 26-year-old Hernandez became the fourth player with a three-homer game in a league championship series, joining Bob Robertson (1971 NLCS), George Brett (1978 ALCS) and Adam Kennedy (2002 ALCS). Hernandez's seven RBIs tied a postseason record shared by four other players who all did it in a Division Series.

Troy O'Leary was the previous player to have seven RBIs in a playoff game, for Boston at Cleveland in the 1999 ALDS.

It was a stunning display for a player with 28 career homers who remains concerned about his native Puerto Rico, which is recovering from a devastating hurricane. He delivered a historic performance in front of his father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., who was diagnosed with a blood cancer related to leukemia in December 2015, but got word last November that he was in remission.

"For me to be able to come here and do something like this is pretty special," said Hernandez, who also goes by Kik�. "My body's here, but my mind's kind of back home. It's hard being away from home with what's going on.

"All I want to do right now is go to my dad and give him a big hug."

Kris Bryant homered for Chicago, but the NL Central champions finished with just four hits in another tough night at the plate. Each of their eight runs in the NLCS came via the long ball, and they batted just .156 for the series with 53 strikeouts.

Long playoff runs in each of the last two years and a grueling five-game Division Series against Washington seemed to sap Chicago of some energy, and its pitching faltered against sweet-swinging Los Angeles. Jose Quintana was pulled in the third inning of the final game, and the Cubs never recovered.

"They executed their plan," Bryant said. "They pitched great and the bullpen was lights out. That makes for a tough time scoring runs."

Turner and Taylor helped put it away for Los Angeles, contributing to a 16-hit outburst while closing out a pair of impressive performances.

Turner singled home Taylor in the Dodgers' five-run third, giving him seven RBIs in the series and 24 throughout his postseason career. Taylor finished with two hits and scored two runs as the Dodgers, who have won five straight NL West titles, improved to 7-1 in this postseason.

Taylor's versatility helped Los Angeles cover for the loss of All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, who missed the series with a back injury, but is expected to return in the next round. Coming off a breakout season, the 27-year-old Taylor hit .316 with two homers and scored five times against the Cubs.

"I couldn't be happier to be a part of this and be with these guys," Taylor said. "It's been an unbelievable year, and I'm just super excited."


Hernandez joined Kennedy (2002), Adrian Beltre (2011), Reggie Jackson (1977 vs. the Dodgers) and Babe Ruth (1928) as players to hit three home runs in a postseason series clincher.


Dodgers relievers have thrown 23 consecutive scoreless innings, a postseason record.

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

Are Red Sox playing a waiting game before naming their new manager?

BOSTON — As soon as the American League Championship Series ends, the Red Sox could make a move for their manager.

Industry sources continue to expect Astros bench coach Alex Cora will be the Sox’ pick. No offer had been officially made as of midday Wednesday, one source close to the situation said. But the belief is such an offer waits out of respect to the Astros-Yankees ALCS that can end no later than Saturday if the series goes a full seven games. 


“Not a doubt it is him,” the source said.

Sunday and Monday would both be off days ahead of the Tuesday night start of the World Series. That leads to the potential for at least a Red Sox announcement of Cora, if not a press conference, before the Fall Classic begins. (If the Astros advance to the World Series, it may be harder to have Cora in Boston for any length of time.)

All those who know Cora praise his ability to connect with players. The former Red Sox infielder is good friends with Dustin Pedroia. Cora’s previous knowledge of the Boston market works in his favor, as well, as does his mettle handling the media. Some question his readiness as a first-time manager, considering he would be taking over a team with great win-now expectations and complicated clubhouse dynamics.

Nothing takes the place of experience and there is such a thing as being too close to players. Ultimately, if the Sox do land Cora, 41, they would be adding the hottest up-and-coming managerial prospect who’s available on the market. The everybody-wants-him reputation could give Cora added cachet with players and certainly becomes a public-relations win for those fans following the search.

The Sox interviewed Ron Gardenhire on Wednesday. Gardenhire was the third candidate the Sox talked to and could well be the last. Cora met with the Sox on Sunday, followed by Brad Ausmus on Monday.