There were home runs on Monday night and there will be an actual exhibition game (that "counts") on Tuesday night, but during the All-Star FanFest on Tuesday before the game, the folks at Major League Baseball did a really cool thing:
One year after Major League Baseball issued a policy prohibiting players from harassing and discriminating against others players based on their sexual orientation, Commissioner Bud Selig appointed former outfielder Billy Bean to be MLB's first ambassador for inclusion.
In his new role, Bean, who made public his homosexuality in 1999, will provide guidance and training related to efforts to support those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community throughout Major League Baseball. He will work with Major and Minor League clubs to encourage equal opportunity in accordance with the joint MLB-MLBPA Workplace Code of Conduct.
Bean also will develop educational training initiatives against sexism, homophobia and prejudice, and he will be present at annual industry events, including the Winter Meetings and the MLB-MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program.
This is wonderful on many levels and comes just a few months after baseball executives, including the Cubs' Theo Epstein, said that they would have no problems signing a gay player. This also comes on the tail of the NBA welcoming the recently-outed Jason Collins, as well as the NFL drafting the openly-gay Michael Sam. We have arrived at an age where homosexuality and "queerness" is still an issue, but not really an issue, if you know what I mean. It's become a matter of, "Oh, you're gay? Cool. Can you do your job well?" And I'm glad because the world is better for it.
Kudos to MLB for setting this up, and I hope that this increase in awareness will make it easier for the first openly gay MLB player (or any player, for that matter) to feel at home in our favorite game.