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Daniel Murphy, the Rockies, and the decisions we make

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The Rockies decided to sign Daniel Murphy, so here are decisions I’m making

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For Rockies fans waiting on Jeff Bridich to do something!, December 20 was the day. The hot stove brought the Rockies former Cubs first baseman Daniel Murphy. For more on the signing, I recommend this by Purple Row’s Ben Kouchnerkavich and this from Eric Garcia McKinley. You can also find analysis from national perspectives.

In addition to Murphy’s bat, I suspect the Rockies liked the short contract, which gives Tyler Nevin more time to develop, Murphy’s history on winning teams, and his availability via free agency, which allows them to keep their prospects. These are all relevant factors when signing a player.

That said, I’d like to focus on a rather different topic that’s only now starting to get local attention and that’s been weighing on me since MLB.com’s Thomas Harding started floating the idea of Murphy at first base. It’s also relevant. In 2015, Murphy made homophobic comments about Billy Bean, which I’ve taken from Patrick Mooney’s article in The Athletic:

“I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual,” Murphy said in 2015. “That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him.

“I would say you can still accept them, but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

I find these comments deeply problematic — and I write that as a straight, cis, white woman who recognizes that I cannot possibly understand the experiences of the LGBTQ community. For those perspectives, I recommend Kelly Wallace’s “A Lesbian’s Guide to Rooting for the Cubs with Daniel Murphy,” Parker Molloy’s “See You Next Year: Why Homophobia Ended This Cubs Fan’s Season,” and Purple Row community member Jeff Morton’s “The Rockies, Daniel Murphy and the ‘Gay Lifestyle.’” Moreover, I hope that LGBTQ Rockies fans will consider writing a Fan Post to voice your feelings on the Murphy signing, (Go here to get started.)

While it’s not my experience, I do have friends and colleagues and students who are LGBTQ and whose very selves are delegitimized by statements like the ones Murphy has made. I’m not okay with that. So all the talk about Murphy’s OPS+ aside, with this signing, the Rockies have made a values statement that presents a challenge for me because sports, like everything, are political. When I invest my time and my money into anything, I’m also making a value statement. The Rockies’ decision will force some fans to make decisions of their own about how to balance their fandom with the addition of Daniel Murphy.

Here are some things I’m doing, not doing, and hoping for:

  1. I’m not boycotting the Rockies or harassing Murphy online or at games or tweeting @Rockies about this. I tend to prefer constructive engagement over shaming and shunning. I believe in giving folks a chance to learn from past decisions. I hope that Murphy’s time in Denver will give him cause to rethink.
  2. I am, however, boycotting Rockies merchandise — and I do love Rockies merchandise. Instead, I’m going to take those dollars I’d normally spend on Rockies stuff and make donations to a local LGBTQ organization. For every hit Murphy gets, I’ll donate a dollar; for every home run, I’ll give two dollars in honor of Colorado Rockies First Baseman Daniel Murphy.
  3. And I hope the Rockies will hold an official Pride Night in 2019. I think it’s important. The Rockies were one of five teams not to host an official Pride Night in 2018; instead, One Colorado has hosted unofficial events at Coors Field over the past two years. There’s nothing stopping the Rockies from making it an official event.

So, that’s my approach. Whatever it is you feel called to do — and that may mean you feel you need to boycott the Rockies, or it may mean you’re buying a purple Daniel Murphy jersey — you should do it. But this is how I’m moving forward.

I hope Daniel Murphy has a terrific season for the Rockies, and I hope we can have a productive conversation. My greatest hope is that we can all learn from this.