I talked to Chris Perez about a wide range of issues for a short profile I wrote last month on the Tribe's outspoken closer.
One of the subjects we discussed but that didn't make the final piece was gays in professional sports. Whether one would come out publicly soon — we now have the first one, thanks to the NBA's Jason Collins — and whether baseball would be accepting. Here are some of Perez's thoughts:
"Your sexual orientation doesn't matter as long as the guy's going to help you win and take care of business on the field. I don't see any reason not to support him. It's a team thing. If a friend came out, you're not going to turn your back on him. A 25-man team is a small family."
"I just think it's like anything else — it's brand new and people don't like change. The first one that comes out is going to get backlash, and then five years later, it won't be a big deal. People would say they would support an openly gay player, but I don't know if they really would until they're confronted with the situation. I don't think that was the case five years or eight years ago."
On if baseball would be more tolerant than other sports:
"I think so. A sport like football, in football there's 53 guys, twice as many people and personalities, compared to baseball. Football and baseball are different. Football has a little more locker-room personality, it's more physical, not more manly, just more competitive, more macho. That's just the way it is. Baseball's more cerebral and you have more downtime. Baseball would be the ultimate test because of how often you're interacting with someone."
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