It was in 2002 that The New York Post quoted Mets manager Bobby Valentine as saying the major leagues were ready to accept a gay player in the clubhouse, leading to speculation that he was testing the atmosphere for one of his players to come out of the closet.
If it was a ploy to affirm that the liberal East Coast establishment was tolerant, forgiving, open-minded and understanding, it fell short, as a firestorm of speculation compelled Mets catcher Mike Piazza to confess that, no, he was not the player, and more emphatically, he was NOT gay.
Now comes former Mets second baseman Roberto Alomar, sued in U.S. District for a minimum of $15 million by an ex-girlfriend Ilya Dall allegedly exposing her to the AIDS virus, which she asserts the 39-year-old Puerto Rican contracted a number of years ago. So far she has tested negative for the virus, but medical authorities say it could manifest later.
True, the AIDS virus always has been, is now and perhaps for the foreseeable future will be largely associated with single gay men, but one need look no further than the example of late Tennis star Arthur Ashe, who was universally recognized as being exclusively heterosexual when he succumbed to the disease due to a blood transfusion. To suggest anything to the contrary would be beyond reckless. Homosexuality and AIDS are not interchangeable.
Ashe is hardly the only case of a straight man becoming HIV positive, but is the most well known one. Another who comes to mind is Magic Johnson, who acknowledges contracting the virus as the result of numerous liaisons with women. And Alomars troubles, after all, are with a woman, a woman has made no assertions about him being bisexual.
That has failed to stop certain Chicago media types (670 The Fan) from trying to connect the dots, however erroneously.
Though the suit is virtually meaningless attempting to identify Alomar as the gay player in the seven-year-old Post report, it may serve to explain a few other things about Alomar, if it confirms the allegation that he truly has what it describes as "full-blown AIDS."
Alomar unwaveringly denies the accusation, but it remains to be explained how the best second baseman in the game in Cleveland instantly morphed into a plodding, clumsy shadow of himself not only in the field but at the plate in New York.
For his career, Alomar hit .300 with 210 home runs and 1,134 RBI. His first year with the Mets he hit just .266 with a .376 slugging average and 53 RBI. It was downhill from there. It later came to light that he was experiencing double vision.
Dall, who shared a high-rise luxury apartment in the Queens Borough community of Long Island City when Alomar played with the Mets, said Alomar subjected her to unprotected copulation even though he suffered from sores on his mouth and throat, a constant cough, an infected voice box and constant fatigue, pointing to them as potential symptoms of AIDS, for which he refused to be tested.
Ultimately, his skin turned purple, he began foaming at the mouth and occasionally required a wheel chair to navigate airports, her suit contends. Observers, however, reportedly say Alomar appears normal.