Will a woman ever play in the majors? Don’t ask major league executives about it.

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There’s a story up by Pat Borzi of espnW about the possibility of a woman making the major leagues.  The most interesting passage in the whole piece, however, has little to do with the chances of that actually occurring on the merits but which is quite telling about it happening in reality. After reviewing the views of Justine Siegal, Bill Mike Veeck and Dan Duquette, all of whom feel/felt that we will see a woman in the majors one day, Borzi notes:

It’s difficult to find anyone in MLB who agrees with Siegal, Veeck or Duquette. Of the nine MLB executives, scouts and players contacted by espnW, only three agreed to talk about the subject. None was willing to be quoted. One considered a woman playing in the majors unlikely, and the other two rejected it out of hand.

If people in front offices are so weirded out about the concept that they won’t even offer a speculative quote, how likely is it that anyone will go to the mat for a putative woman prospect if and when it comes time to consider advancing her in the system? Assuming someone would even go out on a limb to draft her? Bunch of cowards.

Anyway, this topic comes up every couple of years, and my take each time has remained more or less the same:

  • I’d love to see it, because you know that ballplayers would say all kinds of stupid things if it happened, and ballplayers saying stupid things makes for great blogging;
  • If we do see it, I agree with Duquette that it will most likely take the form of a knuckleballer with a deceptive motion like Eri Yoshida (though it should be noted that Yoshida didn’t fare well in Independent ball); but
  • We probably won’t see it outside of the independent leagues any time soon, if ever, because baseball is a really damn conservative institution that, at least in this day and age, isn’t all that willing to take chances.

None of this, it should be noted, represents my opinion on whether a woman could be successful in professional baseball. I don’t know nearly enough about scouting and player development and physiology to say with any kind of certainty if a woman could do it.

On a purely biological level there is no getting around the fact that human beings exhibit at least some degree of sexual dimorphism. At the same time, there are outliers, as any guy who has been totally killed during a pickup basketball game against a backup point guard from their high school girl’s team can attest.  Um, not that that happened to me. Repeatedly.

When I think about the subject, part of me looks at out-of-shape major leaguers and thinks “man, there HAS to be a dozen women who could do what that slob can do.” Then part of me looks at any given knuckleballer and thinks that, well, yeah, they still have to have a serviceable get-me-over pitch, and even most men can’t dial it up enough to get that done.

Maybe it happens someday. I hope it does because it would be an absolutely astounding achievement (and not just for dumb bloggy reasons as mentioned above).

But really, executives: you can’t even talk about it?

(thanks to Paperlions for the heads up)

The 2017 Yankees are, somehow, plucky underdogs

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There’s a lot that has happened in the past year that I never, ever would’ve thought would or even could happen in America. Many of them are serious, some are not, some make me kinda happy and some make me terribly sad. I’m sure a lot of people have felt that way in this oddest of years.

There’s one thing in baseball, however, that still has me searching my feelings in a desperate effort to know what to feel: The New York Yankees are the postseason’s plucky underdogs.

This is not about them being lovable or likable — we touched on that last week — it’s more about the role they play in the grand postseason drama. A postseason they weren’t even supposed to be in.

None of the three writers of this website thought the Yankees would win the AL East or a Wild Card. ESPN had 35 “experts” make predictions back in March, and only one of them — Steve Wulf — thought the Yankees would make the postseason (he thought they’d win the division). I’m sure if you go over the plethora of professional prognosticator’s predictions a few would have the Yankees squeaking in to the postseason on the Wild Card, but that was nothing approaching a consensus view. Their 2017 regular season was a surprise to almost everyone, with the expectation of a solid, if unspectacular rebuilding year being greatly exceeded. To use a sports cliche, nobody believed in them.

Then came the playoffs. Most people figured the Yankees would beat the Twins in the Wild Card game and they did, but most figured they’d be cannon fodder for the Indians. And yep, they fell down early, losing the first two games of the series and shooting themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion in the process. Yet they came back, beating arguably the best team in baseball and certainly the best team in the American League in three straight games despite the fact that . . . nobody believed in them.

Now we’re in the ALCS. The Astros — the other choice for best team in the American League if you didn’t think the Indians were — jumped out to a 2-0 lead, quieting the Yankees’ powerful bats. While a lot of teams have come back from 0-2 holes in seven game series, the feel of this thing as late as Monday morning was that, even if the Yankees take a game at home, Houston was going to cruise into the World Series. Once again . . . nobody believed in them.

Yet, here we are on this late Wednesday morning, with the Yankees having tied things up 2-2. As I wrote this morning, you still have to like the Astros’ chances given that their aces, Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, are set to go in Games 5 and 6. I’m sure a lot of people feel still like the Astros’ chances for that reason. So that leads us to this . . .

It’s one thing for no one to have, objectively, believed in the Yankees chances. It’s another thing, though, for the New York Yankees — the 27-time World Champions, the 40-time American League pennant winners, the richest team in the game, the house-at-the-casino, U.S. Steel and the Evil Empire all wrapped into one — to officially play the “nobody believed in us” card on their own account. That’s the stuff of underdogs. Of Davids facing Goliaths. Of The Little Guy, demanding respect that no one ever considered affording them. If you’re not one of those underdogs and you’re playing that card, you’re almost always doing it out of some weird self-motivational technique and no one else will ever take you seriously. And now you’re telling me the NEW YORK FRIGGIN’ YANKEES are playing that card?

Thing is: they’re right. They’ve totally earned the right to play it because, really, no one believed in them. Even tied 2-2, I presume most people still don’t, actually.

I don’t know how to process this. Nothing in my 40 years of baseball fandom has prepared me for the Yankees to be the David to someone else’s Goliath and to claim righteous entitlement to the whole “nobody believed in us” thing.

Which, as I said at the beginning, is nothing new in the year 2017. I just never thought it’d happen in baseball.