Rangers record anti-bullying PSAs — without telling gay youth ‘It Gets Better’

In my post the other day about a homophobic tweet sent from Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland’s account, I mentioned that a team official told Instant Tea last year that the Rangers would consider filming an “It Gets Better” video, but they never did.

This week we again reached out to the official, Rangers executive vice president for communications John Blake, who responded by pointing out that three Rangers players did in fact record anti-bullying PSAs as part of a campaign unveiled last month.

“These PSAs and the pledge campaign have been very well received in school systems throughout the area and the state of Texas,” Blake said in an email.

Rangers players Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, and Michael Young filmed the PSAs, which can be viewed here.

“The public service announcements were created in August and are currently being distributed to school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for their use,” according to a press release. “Murphy and Young taped the messages in English while Andrus filmed a Spanish version.

“The Rangers are encouraging all students 14 years of age and older to make an anti-bullying pledge for this school year at texasrangers.com/stopbullying,” the release states. “All students who make this pledge can download a special full color anti-bullying poster of Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, and Michael Young. Students can also share the pledge with their friends through Facebook and Twitter. The PSA’s will also be distributed to local media outlets and are available for viewing online at texasrangers.com/stopbullying.”

I suppose this is better than nothing, but I can’t help but wonder why the Rangers wouldn’t simply join all of the other MLB teams that have filmed “It Gets Better” videos — which are, of course, specifically geared toward LGBT teens. Here’s the response to that question I got from Blake:

“The aim of our campaign is to deliver a message that all forms of bullying are abhorrent,” Blake said. “We wanted to reach the widest possible audience and encourage students all across the Dallas/Fort Worth area to take a stand against all forms of bullying.”

—  John Wright

Rangers spokesman says team won’t consider making ‘It Gets Better’ video until after playoffs

On Thursday I came across this excellent piece by Karen Ocamb, news editor at the LGBT magazine Frontiers, about what the Los Angeles Dodgers’ “It Gets Better” video means to her. Ocamb recalls how she once met the gay son of iconic former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who later refused to acknowledge that his son was gay and had died from AIDS. Ocamb said she’s harbored ill feelings toward the Dodgers ever since — and almost didn’t post the teams’ “It Gets Better” video on her blog, LGBT POV.

“Then I watched it,” Ocamb writes. “Since I don’t watch Dodgers baseball, I don’t know who these guys are. The HuffPo identifies them as coach Don Mattingly, James Loney, Matt Guerrier, Jamey Carroll, A.J. Ellis, Rod Barajas and Hiroki Kuroda saying, ‘you are worthy,’ and ‘you’re not alone, we’re on your side’ in English, Spanish and Japanese.

“I suspect they know about the legendary Tommy Lasorda and may know that Tommy Lasorda Jr. was gay and died of AIDS,” Ocamb writes of the Dodgers who appear in the video. “But whether they do or not doesn’t matter. I was moved by their sincerity – and dare I say – it got better for me seeing how the Dodgers had changed.”

Ocamb’s moving piece prompted me to again reach out to John Blake, executive vice president of communications for the Texas Rangers, to find out whether the team has made a decision about filming an “It Gets Better” video. If you’ll recall, when asked about an “It Gets Better” video last month, Blake told Instant Tea the team was “considering our options and the timing of any initiatives.”

The Rangers begin the playoffs this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington.

“I really have nothing new to report,” Blake said in an email Thursday evening. “We plan to look at what the best approach may be once the playoffs conclude.”

Watch the Dodgers’ “It Gets Better” video below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Someone from Arlington has filmed an ‘It Gets Better’ video, but it ain’t your Rangers

Former UTA standout Hunter Pence

The Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays have become the latest Major League teams to release “It Gets Better” videos, prompting us to again contact the Texas Rangers to find out if or when the organization plans to follow suit.

“To my knowledge, there are no updates. Thank you,” said John Blake, the Rangers executive vice president for communications, in a response to our email on Monday.

Which, presumably, means the Rangers are still “seriously looking at [their] options.” (In case you’re wondering, the Change.org petition calling for the Rangers to make an “It Gets Better” video has now expired, but not before amassing 2,780 signatures.)

Anyhow, while we’re awaiting the Rangers decision, we figured we’d go ahead and point out that North Texas native Hunter Pence, who played at UTA and Arlington High, appears in the Phillies “It Gets Better” video, which you can watch below. And just to underscore the fact that it really does get better, we’ve even thrown in a few more pics of Pence’s recent strip tease at a charity fashion show.

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Rangers may film ‘It Gets Better’ video

We just received an email from John Blake, executive vice president of communications for the Texas Rangers, responding to our inquiry Wednesday about the possibility of the team recording an “It Gets Better” video. FYI, the petition at Change.org calling for the Rangers to do so is now up to 2,394 signatures.

“The Rangers have received the correspondence and we are currently considering our options and the timing on any initiatives,” Blake said in his email.

We called Blake to try to get more out of him.

“It’s late in the season and everything, and it’s just a matter of timing and that kind of thing,” Blake said, adding that the team is in the midst of a pennant race. “We’ve received the correspondence [emailed petitions] and we’re just considering the best way to add the whole bullying initiative. We’ve discussed it internally and that’s where we’re at. I think it’s fair to say we’re seriously looking at our options.”

Asked whether the organization has set any kind of a timeframe for a decision, Blake said: “I think it will be sooner rather than later.”

In other words, keep those signatures coming!

—  John Wright

Rangers ‘It Gets Better’ petition gains steam

A while back we mentioned that online petitions had been launched at Change.org calling for both the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys to record “It Gets Better” videos.

At the time, the Rangers petition had only 124 signatures, but thanks in part to Equality Texas, which shared the link on Facebook earlier today, it’s now up to more than 1,700. (For those who are keeping track, that’s about 1,000 fewer than a recently-gone-viral petition at Change.org calling for Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie to wed. )

The Cowboys petition isn’t faring so well, languishing at only 57 signatures. Still, that’s better than the three people who’ve signed a petition — launched since our previous report — calling for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to record an “It Gets Better” video. (It would help if the folks starting these petitions would at least include the team logo.) We were unable to find any petition related to the Dallas Stars.

Anyhow, we’ve put a message in to John Blake, the Rangers’ executive vice president of communications, to find out whether the Rangers are aware of the petition or plan to record an “It Gets Better” video.

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Tampa Bay Rays will become the ninth Major League Baseball team to film an “It Gets Better” video later this month. (And, by the way, those teams include the one with the very best record in the league, my Philadelphia Phillies.)

—  John Wright