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Great Moments in Sexism: Who’s your “Baseball Boyfriend?”

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Not everyone plays fantasy baseball. There are a lot of reasons for that. I don’t play because I have a short attention span and I kind of suck at it. Others don’t play because they don’t have the time. Still others because, shocker, they just don’t like it.

But a company called  A View From My Seat — “In cooperation with CBS Sports Interactive” according to their website — has decided that the reason women don’t play fantasy baseball is because there isn’t enough romance in it. So they’ve decided to change that. By allowing girls — and they specifically say “girls” — to choose their “Baseball Boyfriend”:

Baseball Boyfriend is a single draftee, fantasy baseball, mini game designed for those who love baseball players. Pick your first BBBF at the beginning of the 2012 Baseball Season. Every time your boyfriend plays, you accumulate points based on his stats for the day. If he can’t perform, dump him. Then pick up a new BBBF. The one with the most points at the end of the season wins.

The website asks “girls” to go through their “little black book” and pick the handsomest player. Oh, I’m sorry, it asks you to “choose your stud.”  How long have you kept a player on your roster? No: it’s “how long you’ve dated him.”  If “one man is not enough” it encourages you to play in multiple leagues. The pics from the site have little hearts and stuff around pictures of, um, handsome players like Lance Berkman and Matt Cain.

I think it’s enough of a criticism to say that this game is stupid, if for no other reason than, as of this writing, it spells the word “triples” with two ps.  But it’s far more execrable for its crass sexism.

Guess what: women like baseball. They watch a lot of it. They write about it. They are, increasingly, executives in the game. Every fantasy league I’ve ever played in has had women in it, and they invariably beat the crap out of me (not that that’s hard). Are the numbers where we’d like them? No, because ideally everyone on the planet is doing basebally things. But the disparity between male and female fans is not because baseball is too hard for “girls” to understand or two manly for them to enjoy.

I get what they’re trying to do here. They want to expand the number of people who click where they’d like them to click and are trying a unique approach to get there. But there are certainly better ways to do so than by misguidedly attempting to girly-fy fantasy baseball or to dumb it down. Women do not need to be treated like love-struck teenagers to be drawn in.

But A View From My Seat and CBS Sports — which is hosting the app on its fantasy site — have regrettably chosen to take that route. And in doing so, they have insulted the intelligence and dignity of just about everyone who has either of those things.

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.