Thinking a ballplayer is hot does not make someone less of a fan

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Stacey May Fowles of Vice has a good and, unfortunately, necessary column up today. She calls it a “manifesto,” but most manifestos aren’t as calm and reasonable as this one is. Nor is the point of most manifestos so painfully obvious, even if it’s almost uniformly ignored.

The point: just because a woman thinks a ballplayer is good looking doesn’t make her somehow less of a fan. Nor does it mean that they should be dismissed by so-called “real fans.”

And they are so often dismissed as such. Shallow. Superficial. “Cleat chasers,” maybe. Which, sure, some women in the world may well be. But I’ve observed in baseball fandom that many, many men, especially when there are no women around, find it impossible to accept that women can be serious baseball fans. And, if they encounter women fans, so many, many men assume that they’re only in it for the beefcake. At the same time women, Fowles observes, so often feel the need to make it ABUNDANTLY clear to the point of absurdity that, nope, they’re not checking out some ballplayer’s tush, no, never. And that need, she correctly argues, is aimed at conforming to men’s expectations of how fans are supposed to behave.

But the fact is ballplayers are hot. At least most of them. They’re crazy-in-shape athletic men between the ages of 20 and 40 who do stuff a tiny percentage of the planet can do. You’d have to be crazy to think there weren’t hundreds of hotties in such a sample. Appreciating that does not disqualify anyone as a serious fan, and the idea that it does or should is ridiculous.

So, my heterosexual male friends: go read Fowles’ column. Then, the next time you’re at a game, take a look at Bryce Harper or Giancarlo Stanton or someone and ask yourself how many sets of mental gymnastics you’d have to execute to claim they WEREN’T amazing looking, objectively speaking. Then ask yourself whether that realization makes you any less of a fan. And further ask yourself why we’d think that realization on the part of someone who is actually of the opposite sex or orientation wouldn’t think that too.

José Ramirez’s 17-pitch at-bat kickstarts Indians’ five-run comeback in ninth inning

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With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.

Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.

After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.