On CBS’s “Madam Secretary”, a surprise coming out of a retired MLB player creates diplomatic turmoil
I’ve been a fan of Tea Leoni ever since her comedy series “The Naked Truth”. She’s now on CBS where she plays the Secretary of State in the aptly named “Madam Secretary”, a drama that blends front-page diplomatic stories with an ongoing mystery to solve, one that threatens the lives of Secretary Elizabeth McCord and her family.
In yesterday’s episode she travels to Venezuela, ostensibly to persuade the country’s fictional proto-dictator Suarez to hold free elections. To get the anti-American Suarez to accept the visit, she recruits recently retired MLB star Manny Azucco, played by Philip Anthony-Rodriguez, to join the delegation. It works, although the Secretary’s staff is worried that Mrs Suarez, a former Miss Venezuela, is getting too touchy with the baseball legend.
In fact, there’s little risk of any trouble there, as we learn that night when Azucco knocks on the door of the Secretary’s personal assistant, who apparently is obviously gay (to me he just seems well dressed, well groomed, and mannerly, but OK). The assistant rebuffs the baseball player’s advances, but does accuse Azucco of hypocrisy. The link is rather tenuous, but from what I understand, the assistant feels that by making such advances while on a diplomatic mission, Azucco is not showing respect for a country which allows the baseball player to live his life freely, if he so chooses. (This shows how badly this gay character is written: if he were real, he would know that this is not at all the case in the United States, where homophobic discrimination is the law in much of the country.)
At the official press conference the next day, Azucco surprises everyone by announcing that he’s a proud gay Venezuelan-American ex baseball player. Jaws drop. President Suarez is particularly embarrassed, because during the last elections, there were rumors that he himself was gay. He threatens to reveal some compromising information about the Secretary’s chief of staff unless Azucco retracts his statement. The Secretary explains that he can’t really retract being gay, and manages to use some blackmail of her own on Suarez, adding to that vinegar some honey: Azucco, through retired from MLB, would like to play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, the REAL World Series (and yes, it’s a thing).
All’s well that ends well! Another out (former) pro athlete, and an advocate for change in Venezuela!