Monday, July 30, 2018

Grace Note: Albies & Acuña

A lovely moment yesterday: Major League Baseball Atlanta Braves baseball player Ozzie Albies, from Curaçao, was captured on film tenderly comforting his best friend and teammate Ronald Acuña Jr., from Venezuela, during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Albies, 21, a 1st and 2nd baseman, is in his first full season at the Major League level, with the Braves, and is batting .278 with 20 home runs. Acuña Jr., a right-handed batting and throwing left field, is also playing his first full MLB season, with Atlanta, and is batting .268 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.

Initial social media comments suggested that Albies was consoling his friend after the passing of Acuña's mother, but subsequent reports now state that Acuña mother is still alive. The video provoked some backlash, including predictable outbursts of gay panic and homophobia. Whatever the reasons behind the gesture, it something we rarely see in sports, and thus beautiful and remarkable. It also underlines that there are other ways of expressing friendship, love and comfort between men that counter the norms of rigid, fragile and toxic masculinities. It's also noteworthy and significant, I think, that both of these men are of African descent. May they and their careers flourish!

Teammates Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuña Jr.

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