Craig Calcaterra

Major League Baseball hall of famer  Willie Mays, who spent the majority of his career as a center fielder with the New York and San Francisco Giants, smiles as President Barack Obama honors the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants baseball team, Monday, July 29, 2013, during a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. The team beat the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series, their second championship since the franchise moved to San Francisco from New York in 1958. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Willie Mays, Yogi Berra to be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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It was just announced that Willie Mays and Yogi Berra will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama on November 24. Berra’s will be posthumous, of course.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to the White House, the award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The last baseball winner was Ernie Banks, in 2013.

For a reminder of just how much more Yogi Berra was than the cute, funny legend he somehow became by the end of this life, please read my remembrance of Berra from just after his passing. For Mays’ life and accomplishments, check out this biography over at SABR.

Other recipients this year: Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor, Bonnie Carroll, Emilio Estefan, Lee Hamilton, Katherine G. Johnson, Barbara Mikulski, Itzhak Perlman and William Ruckelshaus. Other posthumous recipients will be Shirley Chisholm, Billy Frank Jr. and Minoru Yasui.

There is a football field in Fenway Park

fenway park seats getty
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I try not to judge. Everyone can do what they want within reason I guess, as long as they aren’t harming anyone else. This is a free country and we all have the right to express ourselves how we want to and to associate with who we want to.

But there are just certain laws of nature which shouldn’t be messed with. And this is simply unnatural:

 

This is for the Notre Dame-Boston College game on Nov. 21.  Here’s a time-lapse of how they transformed the field from baseball — as GOD intended it — to football, which in this particular context is an even greater abomination than it already is.

 

Here’s hoping the clergy who works for these two fine universities perform whatever rites are required to turn Fenway Park back into what it was intended to be before April.

MLB sells “Groupie” shoes for women

A couple eye the camera with confusion and mistrust, circa 1950. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
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I decided to spend some time today looking at the absolute saddest page on the Internet: the clearance section from the Braves’ store.

There’s all kinds of despair and/or schadenfreude to be found there, depending on your point of view. Jerseys and shirts from players who were just traded or, in some cases, traded a year ago. A Freddie Freeman shirt, the presence of which gave me a heart attack before I realized that it was likely on there because it’s an ugly design, not because he was traded (he’s still a Brave!). A lot of “We Own The East” stuff which is entering its third year in inventory and becomes increasingly comical as time goes on.

But then I found something less funny than it was highly annoying and offensive. Get these “Groupie” shoes:

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And it’s not just the Braves who have them, by the way. The Tigers, Yankees and some other teams do too, in various styles:

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The source of the name appears to be the shoe’s manufacturer, Cuce Shoes (h/t to Maura Johnston). Cuce’s product description reveals that the “Groupie” designation is specifically because it’s team-logo inspired, and that they’re for “anyone looking to make a statement on game day,” and ends with “Let the games begin!”

What games, exactly, it doesn’t say, but Cuce and MLB’s marketing of these shoes seems to be yet the latest example of abject sexism aimed at female sports fans. Along with licensed women’s and girls t-shirts and sports wear with “Talent Scout” written on them — and unlicensed products which label the wearer as a “cleat chaser” — the name for these shoes fit right in with and reinforce the idea that women cannot be serious fans. That they’re only in it for the ballplayer beefcake.

Major League Baseball wonders why its fan base skews old and male and wonders why it can’t attract young people. Perhaps it’s because Major League Baseball, at least in its marketing decisions, reveals its contempt for those fans and its apparent lack of discomfort with contributing to their objectification.

There’s nothing wrong with the shoes themselves, of course. Some women I follow on Twitter said that they’d probably consider wearing them, all things being equal. For some people shoes are fun, baseball fans included. In light of that I can’t help but think that these shoes wouldn’t be on the clearance rack if they were named something that didn’t implicitly call their owners degrading names.

UPDATE: Jen Mac Ramos contacted Cuce, asking for an explanation. The company responded thusly:

I have been on this Earth for 42 years and have never heard the word “groupie” used in the manner in which they describe there. Indeed, it almost always has a connotation of an almost obsessive fan, more fixated on the player or artist than the performance or game, with derogatory undertones. But hey, you go with that Cuce.