The Mets traded Mark Canha to the Brewers on Monday for Justin Jarvis, a minor-league pitcher ranked as Milwaukee’s 12th-best prospect. After a solid debut season in Queens last year, Canha more or less put up the same production this season, albeit with less power and fewer opportunities in the field. For a team looking ahead to 2024, trading their 34-year-old ill-fitting corner outfielder and backup first baseman makes a whole lot of sense.
Canha’s time in Queens was so short-lived and unmemorable compared to his teammates that most fans won’t even remember he played for the Mets five years from now. I might even remember him better as a power-hitting, hit-by-pitch magnet for the calcifying dregs of the Oakland Athletics, as productively as he played for my team. But as fine a major leaguer as he has been, there’s a stronger association we should feel when remembering Mark Canha.
Considering the totality of queer issues, it’s not super important that baseball players express their support of the LGBTQIA+ community. I would prefer more faith leaders, community organizers, and politicians to support queer folk than MLB players, as cool as it would be to see more solidarity within the game. But I’d still watch baseball even if my favorite team was made up of 26 Daniel Murphys, though the pitching would probably need some help.
It’d be easier for Canha to be like most MLB players and stay quiet about queer issues, regardless of his position. He doesn’t make any money off his support. He probably doesn’t earn any more respect in his clubhouse than he did before. He knows he’s in the minority in his workplace. But he does it anyway, not just because he believes in the cause, but because he knows there’s still work to be done.
Only three former MLB players have come out as gay post-retirement, and none of the over 20,000 MLB players in its close to 150-year history has come out while actively playing. This puts MLB behind just about every major professional sports league in the United States, including the NFL, which is no refuge of queer support but still boasts over a dozen gay former players and an active one, as well. And despite the hostility professional baseball presents to queer players, coaches, and other organizational figures, Mark Canha still publically supports the LGBTQIA+ community in a way that should feel routine but is still so exceptional within MLB.
Considering the minimal progress MLB has made on queer issues over the last few years, Canha’s support of the LGBTQIA+ community hasn’t made much of an impact within baseball. It’s likely that no one knows that more than Canha. But beyond voicing what should already be accepted as normal, he sets an important template for players to follow, because we would surely have our first active gay player by now if there were a dozen Mark Canha’s in every locker room.
So, shoutout to you, Mark Canha. It takes courage to express allyship, especially in an environment as hostile to queer players and fans as professional baseball. The queer community in totality may not know who you are, but this queer sure does, and I sincerely hope you continue fighting in Milwaukee.