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'The Last Barrier' on CSN Bay Area

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'The Last Barrier' on CSN Bay Area

Programming note: The show premieres Saturday at 3 p.m. on NBC Bay Area and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Monday, Dec. 10 at 8:30 p.m.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I saw the movie “Lincoln” in the theater. If you have not seen it yet, the backdrop of the movie is the abolishment of slavery and the passing of the 13th Amendment. You know how that ended.

But as I sat in my seat, something else was cemented in my mind. There’s another issue that holds our society back as a whole nearly 150 years later. Yes, we’re not a fully formed nation on many issues, but the state Gay Rights is in the United States is still very much incomplete. I’m not here to state my views or to lead anyone down a path. But the facts are what they are at this point.

Back in September, we began working on a show on what we know best – sports. The hook was simple - Why has there never been an active male gay athlete in the four major sports?

In our hour-long special, The Last Barrier, we look at all of the issues surrounding the topic. Some reasons are simple to understand, and some are just antiquated beliefs of decades ago. Statistically, somewhere near four percent of Americans are gay. Yet, zero male athletes have ever come out while playing. Dozens have come out after their playing days ended, but never while active. That’s hard to believe.

We enlisted the help of an impressive group of opinionated people on the subject. The topics range from how an out player would be received in the locker room/clubhouse to whether it matters if the player is a superstar or role player.

A male athlete coming out while playing will be no easy feat. Our panel is very honest about the realities such a player would face. It’s not much of a stretch to think some of the same problems Jackie Robinson faced in the 1940s would surface in today’s game. Sure, the media would not allow players to say bigoted things publicly. But what gets said in the confines of a stadium or arena rarely makes it to the general public. That is what we try to uncover: What are true feelings of male team sports in 2012 towards gay athletes? 

[RELATED: 'The Last Barrier' examines challenges facing gay athletes during their playing careers]

The show premieres Saturday at 3:00 pm on NBC Bay Area and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Monday, December 10th at 8:30pm. The guest list includes Rick Welts, President and COO of the Golden State Warriors; Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Vikings punter; Patrick Burke, co-founder of “You Can Play” and Philadelphia Flyers scout; Dave Kopay, former NFL player; Cyd Zeigler, Jr., co-founder of OutSports.com; and Amani Toomer, Bay Area native, former NFL player and NBC Sports NFL analyst.

CSNBayArea.com Senior Insider Ray Ratto and former MLB player, Comcast SportsNet analyst and current MLB scout Shooty Babitt give their thoughts in studio.

Below are some excerpts from the show:

Rick Welts (Warriors President & COO):
On what’s keeping professional athletes from coming out: “I think we’re at a point of time in our society where I think it’s inevitable. That step will be taken. I think it’ll be ‘What took so long’ at that point. But it’ll be a tremendously courageous thing for a pro athlete, especially if they are at the peak of their career, to take that step”.

Chris Kluwe (Vikings punter):
On if an NFL locker room is ready for on openly gay player: “I think if someone were to come out as openly gay, it would be tough for them. But I think they would have a lot more support than they’d realize. Like I said, a lot of the younger generation coming up in the NFL realize it’s not about your sexuality; it’s not about who you want to marry. It’s about how can you help this team win on Sunday.”

Patrick Burke (Co-Founder of the ‘You Can Play’ and Flyers scout):
On when he expects to see an openly gay player in the NHL: “I think we’ll have an openly gay player in the next two years. I think the response ‘You Can Play’ has gotten from the players and the media proves to the closeted gay players that we know we have in the league, that our league is ready for it.”

Amani Toomer (NFL veteran and NBC Sports NFL analyst):
On whether the first NFL gay athlete to come out is a superstar versus a role player: “I think if it was a superstar player, people would be that much more accepting. If you’re a superstar player and you’re helping the team win, and you’re the face of the franchise, and you come out gay, I don’t think that would change your position at all. He’ll be the exact same person in terms of the players; you’ll be the exact same person in terms of the fans, because ultimately at the end of the day, all people want to see is their team win. I don’t think fans care about the sexual orientation of players, and I don’t think the players in the locker room care about sexual orientation. It’s all about winning.”

Cyd Ziegler, Jr., (Co-Founder of OutSports.com):
On the reaction of an active professional athlete coming out: “What’s amazing is how many people think it’s going to be hard for a professional athlete to come out of the closet. Every shred of evidence when we talk to the media and we talk to the fans, team executives, Fortune 500 companies, every single one of them says ‘I’m good with this.’ I think we’re going to look back a month after it happens and say ‘Wow, this is incredible, not what I expected.’”

On the myth straight athletes are homophobic: “I’ve talked to two dozen NFL players over the last year and every single one of them not only expressed support for gay athletes but they talked about their gay brothers, sisters, cousins. This idea that the locker room is this horrible, homophobic place is just not true anymore.”

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

Hundley still not ready to discuss future; Cain to start during final weekend

PHOENIX — A few weeks ago, Nick Hundley said he preferred not to talk about his future until the end of the season. We’re close enough, so after hitting the go-ahead homer Monday night, Hundley was again asked about his 2018 plans. He smiled.

“How many have we got left? Five?” he said. “Ask me Sunday.”

It’s not just the media and fans seeking an answer from the popular backup who has nine homers. The Giants hope to get some feel from Hundley as they finalize offseason plans, and manager Bruce Bochy said he would talk to the veteran this week. Bochy left no doubt about what he hopes will happen.

“I think he knows what we think of him,” he said. 

Hundley, a 34-year-old who came over in the offseason, has been one of the few overachievers this season. He has 32 extra-base hits in 274 at-bats, taking advantage of increased time with Brandon Belt done for the year and Buster Posey sliding over to first base. Hundley is one of the lineup’s more potent right-handed options, and he has earned praise from the starting staff. Johnny Cueto said Hundley helped him navigate a post-clinch Diamondbacks lineup that was essentially pulled straight out of Triple-A. 

Cueto did so with ease, striking out eight in six innings. He evened his record at 8-8, and he’ll have a chance to clinch a winning season on Sunday. Bochy said Cueto will start the final game of the season, and he confirmed that Matt Cain will start either Friday or Saturday. Asked for more details, the manager kept it just as mysterious as his catcher. 

“I’ll let you know tomorrow,” he said.

Mariners club four home runs, end A's seven-game winning streak

Mariners club four home runs, end A's seven-game winning streak

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- Mitch Haniger homered twice and Felix Hernandez won for the first time in more than two months as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-1 on Monday night.

A day after being eliminated from playoff contention, the slumping Mariners snapped Oakland's season-high seven-game winning streak and its eight-game run at home - the team's second-longest in 11 years.

The Mariners had lost eight of nine.

Hernandez (6-5) gave up one run in six innings of two-hit ball. King Felix hadn't won since July 15, a stretch that included a stint on the disabled list from Aug. 2 to Sept. 13 with right shoulder bursitis. He was 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in his previous five starts.

Haniger hit his 15th and 16th home runs off starter Daniel Gossett (4-10). The 24-year-old Oakland rookie gave up seven runs on a career-high four homers allowed.

Mike Zunino hit a three-run shot, his 24th, that broke a scoreless tie in the second. Yonder Alonso added his 26th homer, connecting against his former team.

Marcus Semien hit a solo homer off Hernandez in the sixth.

Andrew Albers pitched three shutout innings for his first save.

MAXWELL IN THE LINEUP:
A's catcher Bruce Maxwell played his first game since becoming the first player in the majors to kneel during the national anthem Saturday, part of a national protest movement against discrimination and harsh treatment of blacks by police. He was greeted with a loud ovation along with some boos sprinkled in from the Oakland crowd of 9,329. Maxwell cleared the concussion protocol on Monday. He hadn't played since Sept. 20.

SHOW OF SUPPORT:
In an apparent show of support for Maxwell, most of the Oakland Unified School District band members took a knee as they performed the national anthem before the game.

2,500 CLUB:
The 31-year-old Hernandez became the fifth active pitcher to log more than 2,500 career innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Mariners: INF Jean Segura (sprained right middle finger) will likely miss the remainder of the series, manager Scott Servais said. "He wants to get in there before the season's over. It's important to him, but he's not going to be available for a couple of days," Servais said.

Athletics: 1B Matt Olson was scheduled to have an MRI to determine the severity of a hamstring injury he sustained Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie will miss the rest of the series, manager Bob Melvin said. Olson has 25 home runs in 189 at-bats. "We're hoping we can get him back in Texas, but I'm not so sure about that," Melvin said. ... LHP Sean Manaea, who missed his last scheduled start on Saturday with upper back tightness, threw a bullpen and is on track to make his next start Thursday, Melvin said.

UP NEXT:
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (12-5, 3.03 ERA) is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in two starts since coming off the DL on Sept. 14. He had been sidelined with a strained left pectoral muscle. Paxton is 3-0 with a 3.77 ERA in five career starts against Oakland.

Athletics: RHP Daniel Mengden (2-1, 3.30) is 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA in his last three starts. Mengden took the loss in his only career start against Seattle last season. He struck out six and gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in five innings.