When you’re a female sports fan, baseball or otherwise, it’s sometimes hard to get any kind of respect. Anything said regarding your particular team, is ready to be discredited as non sense at the drop of a hat if you haven’t “proved” that you’re a “true fan.” You’d better be ready to know everything from the franchise’s best player to the coach’s blood type in order for anything you say to hold some kind of weight, especially when conversing with men. Now, before everyone starts coming after me with barbed wire baseball bats, I will say, this of course has not always been my experience when talking about sports with men. But, this has been the most common situation I’ve either witnessed, or have dealt with first hand. A boyfriend discrediting his girlfriend’s opinion on the team, just because she started rooting for them when they began dating. I once was having a conversation about the Mets with someone at a bar during the 2015 playoffs but he was too busy trying to talk about my eyes. Meanwhile as a dude, you can say the wildest team theory you can dream up, and often, no one will blink twice. They’ll accept it at face value as some kind of bold take on the situation.
“Tom Seaver could come back and pitch for the Mets you know. He’s having a robotic arm attached.”
“Yeah I could see how that could happen.”
But God forbid a female sports fan should pronounce the last name of a beloved player slightly askew. Then we’re off to the races. “Do you even watch baseball?” “What year did he pitch?” “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I once had someone argue with me, constantly calling me crazy because I made the argument that Murphy wasn’t worth keeping on the Mets. I didn’t take issue with the fact that he disagreed with me. You’re more than welcome to form your own opinion. But dismissing my argument altogether assuming I’m not well informed enough to be talking about it in the first place is where the problem lies.
It doesn’t help that most professional sports also have an appalling domestic violence policy in place. Most players get light suspensions if that at all for physically abusing their partners. The first thing we always hear is “we don’t know the whole story,” followed by a list of that particular player’s impressive stats. As if to tell the world, “look what you’re losing if this guy gets a suspension.” Then a few months roll by and we all just pretend it didn’t happen. And then I’m supposed to sit back and cheer for Jose Reyes and pretend he didn’t try and put his wife through a glass door. Just another small yet significant way professional sports tells us they don’t care about their female fanbase. It’s an awful feeling.
But this morning, news broke that the MLB did something that I think is a step in the right direction. The officially banned MLB teams from hazing their rookies by dressing up like women or other costumes that may be offensive to gender, race, or sexual orientation. Rookie dress up can be something fun. I’ve seen teams have their rookies dress up as superheroes, or come to the clubhouse in pajamas. But having them dress like women, whether it be mocking the characters from A League of Their Own, or as Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, comes from that toxic “like a girl” mentality. “You play like a girl.” “You fight like a girl.” “Stop being such a girl.” “Be a man.” It comes from that idea that dressing like a woman is demeaning, something that one should be embarrassed about, something no one wants to be, weak and fragile.
Baseball, of all the sports out there, is one that literally everyone can play. Your size doesn’t matter, you can be a tiny little thing and still be the fastest or strongest. And even if you’re neither of those, you may have a particular skill set that sets you apart on the field, or on the pitchers mound. Baseball is for everyone, and it’s about time we start acting like it.