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When the Tampa Bay Rays hosted “Pride Night” at Tropicana Field Saturday, five team relievers declined to wear rainbow-colored logos on their uniforms.
Among the players were Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson, per the Tampa Bay Times. Adam served as the spokesperson for the group after the Rays’ 3-2 loss to the White Sox and said it was a “hard decision.”
“So it’s a hard decision,” Adam said. “Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior.
“… It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.
Adam’s comments received pushback from some in the MLB community, with Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty tweeting out “Absolute joke,” in response to the players’ decisions. Fellow Rays reliever Nick Anderson, who is on the 60-day injured list, came out in support of his teammates’ right to make their own decision in a Twitter post Monday.
Anderson’s response was rare, as the 31-year-old had only tweeted eight times since the beginning of 2020 and not once since the season began in April. Anderson received both criticism and support from Twitter users, prompting him to tweet out a follow-up statement late Monday night.
“To all of you who are trying to find any little thing to twist and make someone look bad for saying something that they never said, whatever you got going on in your life making you this way, just know that it will all be okay!” Anderson wrote. “Much love.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the game Saturday that the organization supports players’ decisions to wear or not wear the logos on their uniforms.
“First and foremost, I think the organization has done a really good thing to have Pride Nights supporting our gay community to come out and have a nice night at the ballpark,” Cash said. “Impressed that our players have had those conversations and we want to support our players that choose to wear or choose not to wear to the best of our capabilities.”