Craig Calcaterra

San Diego Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte cuts off shortstop Alexei Ramirez while snaring a line drive hit by Los Angeles Dodgers' Carl Crawford during the sixth inning a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Associated Press

The Padres brought back the brown yesterday


In the offseason the Padres unveiled their new/old brown alternate uniforms which, for the most part, will be worn for Friday home games. I am long on record of preferring some update on the old brown/mustard variations of the past, so the alternate is nice. It’s a half-measure, though. They should go to it full-time. And, since this is a home ensemble, I wish they’d go with the classic white uniform with brown accents instead of the solid brown jersey which was a road variation, but that’s just how things go these days.

Those nitpicks aside, I think they looked pretty good yesterday when they trotted these out against the Dodgers. The baseball was still horrible — maybe they’ll score a run eventually? — but they looked good being bad:

Casual sexism in baseball is alive and well

New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers to a Kansas City Royals batter during the first inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Associated Press

Bill and I both talked about how dumb John Gibbons’ “I guess we’ll come out wearing dresses tomorrow” comment was following the Blue Jays-Rays game. There was another instance of stupid sexism in baseball yesterday too.

It happened in Kansas City, when the hated-in-Kansas City Noah Syndergaard took the mound for the first inning at Kauffman Stadium and the Royals played “American Woman” over the speakers. See, because Syndergaard has long hair and we hate him and he’s weak and whatever. Hahaha, you’re a woman. Get it?

There is no place for this crap. There is no way, in 2016, that equating women with weakness or using “woman” as an insult, which was clearly the case in Kansas City, is acceptable. The idea that a guy with long hair is a “woman” and that such a thing is bad was comically played out and exposed as retrograde idiocy as long ago as the late 60s. That it’s still a go-to insult now is inexcusable.

There will be some of you who will say “lighten up” or make references to the “PC Police” at this point. Or you’ll talk about “freedom of speech” as if that has any applicability here. Save it. Sexism does not persist because official organizations and governments make blatantly sexist rules. We’ve actually done a pretty good job of stopping that. No, it persists because of this kind of thoughtless, casual sexism which gives people license to continue to think like friggin’ neanderthals and which reinforces the worst, misogynistic impulses in people. When you subtly or implicitly discredit what it is to be a woman, you discredit and debase women. And when you do that you allow people to not take them seriously and not consider them equals.

Do better, baseball. You claim you want the sport to be inclusive and open and that you want people of color and women in positions of authority and influence? Well, prove it. Make it more inviting for them by calling out such nonsense like we saw from Gibbons and the Kauffman Stadium people yesterday. And apologizing for it.

UPDATE: The Royals were contacted by a KC radio station and they say that the use of “American Woman” was totally coincidental:

Gotta take them at their word.

“Respect the Game” is baseball’s version of “Make America Great Again”

Brian McCann Carlos Gomez

Jay Caspian Kang of the New York Times knocks baseball culture out of the park in his column today. The subject: the much-discussed “respect the game” and unwritten rules business. But instead of talking about them on the surface, he dives deep to decode what it is, exactly, which truly animates the discussion.

What animates it, really, is the whiteness of baseball and the attempts by those with influence in the game to keep the values of white American players dominant while discrediting and in some cases attacking the values of black and Latino players. Jorge Arangure has gone over this territory with some very, very sharp analysis in the past. I’ve written a lot of words about it too. King, however, may have put it more succinctly than anyone with this, referencing battles 20 years ago over Ken Griffey Jr.’s backwards cap:

The Griffey showdown was one in a long line of coded racial arguments, minor battles between two types: the “standard” white player and his nonwhite foil. The archetype of the white baseball player has always been a study in negative space. He does not flip his bat after home runs. He does not insult the hard-working fans with talk about politics. He never takes more than one day at a time. As a result, he cannot exist without a foil to embody all those “flashy” or “hot­headed” or “provocative” things he is not. The foils, of course, have generally been black. But as the demographics of the sport have changed, so, too, has this dynamic.

That negative space idea is the key here. “Playing the game the right way” is almost always said in the wake of someone who is said to play it the wrong way. Respecting the game is always a way of saying someone else is disrespectful. There is no consistent definition for any of these allegedly non-reactionary ideals. It’s all situational. Indeed, the contradictions inherent in “playing the game the right way” are literally the stuff of laugh-out-loud comics.

In the presidential race right now, we’re seeing a notable backlash of generalized white identity politics which has been spurred on by fear and anxiety over “the other.” The fear that immigrant hordes or Muslim terrorists are stealing our jobs or putting our lives at risk. Is there a rational core to any of that? On some level, sure. Immigration and security are legitimate topics of political debate. But there has been a tremendous, defensive and wholly irrational overreaction to it as epitomized by the nonsense spewed by Donald Trump and the new visibility of the racist and Islamophobic fringes.

In baseball, decorum is likewise a legitimate topic of discussion. And, even I will admit, there is a point where one can be disrespectful on the field or, for lack of a better phrase, one can play the game the wrong way. As in politics, however, what constitutes such a threat or a transgression has been defined comically downward, primarily out of anxiety over change and new faces and different values being held by more and more participants in the game. It’s an overreaction which seeks to put the toothpaste back in the tube. It’s, more or less, a “Make Baseball Great Again” movement.

Jay Caspian Kang nails that here. It’s a must-read.