In just a week, four male sports figures came out. From the basketball world, Rick Welts, the CEO of the Phoenix Suns, and Will Sheridan, a former player at Villanova, went public. Pro bowler Scott Norton and ESPN sports reporter Jared Max decided it was time, too.

What’s going through the minds of other gay men in the sports world now? Perhaps, some of them are thinking along these lines:

Jesus H. Christ! Four of ‘em! It’s a damn stampede. Stampede, hah, probably a rodeo star will be next. “Brokeback Mountain” lives.

I didn’t figure on coming out of the closet till I was …Who am I kidding, I never figured on it. I just knew I couldn’t. Automatic. Like throwing to first. Automatic.

Except for that throw in the fifth yesterday. I threw it to the friggin’ cameraman.

Two errors in a week. Not like me at all. Maybe this stuff is getting to me. Maybe if another guy comes out, I’ll forget how to bat.

I bet it really is easier if you don’t play a team sport. Too late for me to switch to pole-vaulting.

That bowler. Bowling isn’t a team sport. Or, is it? Do two guys ever bowl at the same time in the same lane? Yeah, if they’re named Fred and Barney.

It’s stupid to say it’s easy for guys doing individual sports to admit they’re gay. It’s never easy.

Being a man is what it’s about. Masculinity. “Macho, macho man.” Oh, God.

Baseball, baseball, baseball. It’s all I’ve ever been, all I’ve ever wanted to be. And, I got here. The big leagues. Made everybody proud. Worked my ass off. Made me proud.

God, Coach Graham. Made me a great shortstop. And, told the freshmen to stop throwing like fairies. Said every ball thrown short in the dirt kicked up fairy dust.

Be a man. Be a man. Doesn’t a man stand up for himself?

No goddamn way. If I came out, told the whole world I’m gay, I’d be screwed! Don’t think they could actually fire me, but I’d be sent down to Little League.

My teammates would freak. Well, not Adam. Or, Jake. They’re pretty cool. And, Juan has a gay brother. Len, with his “faggot this” and “faggot that” would probably wanna fight. Others just flat wouldn’t talk to me. But, others would ask me about being gay I bet. Could I handle that? Being the dugout homo expert?

Here’s the thing. If I got honest, I could stop dating in the shadows. Maybe even snag me a handsome Hollywood type. Or, a third baseman.

The fans? Probably mixed. Mostly good. The away fans, that’s gonna be bad. They’ll boo me, yell all kinds of crap. “Hey Frazier, do you like fair balls or foul balls?”

Ownership? Too busy screwing 20-year-olds to notice. Old Mac? He won’t get it. But, he stands by all his players, so maybe…

So, if I came out, it would be mega-stress. Dealing with the reactions of everybody, from the ball boys to the media. On the other side, there’s the stress I have now. Living a lie. Which is kinda getting to me.

Damn those four! All my life I’ve had peer pressure to stay hidden. Now, I’ve got peer pressure to come out!

I suppose that’s cool in a way. Barriers are falling. Boom.

Okay, okay, I’ll make a deal with myself. I’ll definitely come out when I retire. And, I’ll think about coming out sooner. Jesus, maybe I’ll join the next wave. It’ll be me, a hockey executive, a swimmer and a play-by-play man. But, one of them better go first. : :