So Again I Rant

I have two issues on my mind that are somewhat connected.  Issue number 1 is that MLB promoted a “Win Your Dream Job” contest as being for “all” baseball fans and they chose two men who could pretty much be twins, showing no diversity whatsoever.  The 2nd issue is that this dream job looks like it is going to really be a reality show about two frat boy-types who do fun things like hang out with underwear models.  The connection for me is that it shows me that MLB couldn’t care less about a huge part of their fanbase.  This post reflects my feelings on these issues and I switch back and forth between the two.  Good information to have as you read my rant.

So I’m on Twitter tonight because, hey, it’s practically Opening Day and this final game is a fun time to tweet with like-minded folks. One of my buds, who goes by the handle of metschick so there is no mistaking her priorities, tweets that she wants to buy this paperweight:

For the record, I want one too!

It’s baseball-related and it is being coveted by a woman.  AND IT ISN’T EVEN PINK, HEIDI WATNEY!!* It was a good night.  Red Sox were whooping the butts of the Houston Astros, there was baseball being called by Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo on my television and many baseball-minded tweeps were hanging out online.  And then it happened…someone tweeted something that got my Irish up.  I’m fickle.  Sometimes it takes a lot to get the Irish going and sometimes the fuse is very short.  Tonight that fuse was a bit short.

Some background to catch folks up:

Today MLB announced the winners of the “Dream Job” contest they ran last month.  (Many kind people sent me the link to apply…I did NOT apply.  While on the surface watching every game and getting paid for it while living in New York sounds like a dream, it isn’t quite mine.)  I won’t lie, my initial reaction was “Two guys…big surprise”.  But I have to admit, the more I read, the more I started getting annoyed not just because there was no one representing the women fans, but because they didn’t even have the decency to represent any fan that wasn’t white, male or a fan of an American League East team.  10,000 applications and they came up with two white guys who root for East Coast, American League teams?

As an aside, I have nothing against white guys who root for East Coast, American League teams.  Some of my best friends are white guys who root for East Coast, American League teams and I love them.  But there are 30 teams (and two leagues!) in Major League Baseball and you would think that, along with impressive applications, Major League Baseball might have taken that into consideration.

I know the world is not a fair place and it doesn’t exist to work specifically the way I want it to.  I know this.  But this “Dream Job” was advertised as a great opportunity for a baseball fan.  “Baseball fan” covers a wide variety of people and one would think that MLB would have set up some parameters to make it fair to all its fans.  There is nothing wrong with creating criteria that says since they were choosing two people they would pick one man and one woman.  OR one American League fan and one National League fan.  Is this unfair?  Would it have been so difficult to create something interesting this way?  Did MLB think they had to go the stereotypical frat boy route to entice folks to watch?

So my thoughts were all over the place about it today.  My final one being, it probably won’t be something that interests me but there could be something fun about seeing an Orioles fan and a Yankees fan trying to live together so maybe I’d give it a try.  Everything doesn’t have to be a fight, right?

That lasted until I logged on to Twitter tonight and read this tweet (from Aerys Sports Red Sox correspondent Cee Angi):

Opening Day at @MLBFanCave has Victoria’s Secret models. No wonder they didn’t pick a woman. Is it Fan Cave or Man Cave? #annoying

So I click on the twitter account for the fan cave and see that, indeed, their plan for Opening Day is to hang with a Victoria’s Secret model and they want fans to ask her questions (there is a connection, VS creates a brand of clothes for MLB that I won’t link to here, but they have witty sayings on their tops like “Meet me in the dugout” because everyone knows women only watch baseball in the hopes of a quickie with one of the players…but I digress).

Before I continue this rant let me also say this, as I have many times before:  Personally I have been quite lucky in my life in regard to how men perceive me and my baseball fandom.  I’m from a family with many more women sports fans than men fans so my knowledge or passion was never questioned there and I tend to surround myself with people who respect me (as I do them) so the majority of my personal relationships also include the understanding that I’m not some baseball groupie, I actually care and know about the game and the people who play it.  The men who read my blog seem to not care one way or the other which gender I am.  I love this.  But it changed for me when I blogged over at WEEI.  Some of the comments and emails I got while I was there just amazed me.  I’m not naive and I know how some people feel about women and sports mixing together but the hatred spewed was just unbelievable.  So while I’ve seen the bad first hand, for the most part my life as a woman sports fan hasn’t been that difficult to endure.

With that out of the way, it is impossible to write with a straight face that Major League Baseball appreciates their women fans as much as they do their male fans.  A few years ago maybe I could understand this better but last year it was revealed that women make up 45% of the fan base of MLB.  45% is no small potatoes.  I don’t pretend to speak for all women…I’m speaking for myself today…but I don’t think I ask for much as a fan.  I don’t need (or want)  pink or sparkly clothes but I would love jerseys and t-shirts cut to fit a woman’s figure without that figure having to be a size 2.  I don’t need (or want) free lipstick night or teach women about baseball night, but I could do with being acknowledged as being just as important a member of the paying fandom as men are.

Some will disagree, and many on Twitter have, but interviewing a Victoria’s Secret model on the first day of the “Fan Cave” screams to me that there was no intention ever of having a woman be one of the winners.   Having an underwear model be your guest on OPENING DAY tells me exactly what kind of viewers you want.  If your plan was that women would get involved since this model was going to be talking about clothes for women, why didn’t you just have them interview women baseball writers to talk about baseball instead?  Caryn at Metsgrrl has a great list of women I would tune it to hear talk baseball here.  You know what would be nice?  Your new, exciting experiment being about baseball.

This isn’t anything personal against the two men who won.  They aren’t the ones who created this and they’re basically at the mercy of whatever MLB wants them to do.  But instead of us getting exciting and original baseball content , we get a social networking rehash of The Man Show or The Best Damn Sports Show Period?  (In fairness, I base this only on what they have planned for the first day but, you know, usually the first impression is the one that reflects the road the program will take.)

Already this month I’ve written about women and their online presence on sports-related websites.  If Major League Baseball refuses to respect their women fans why should other sites?  I’ve been often told that many sites use pictures of half-naked women because it’s what the men sports fans want to see.  I don’t fully believe this.  I mean, I certainly know that men want to see half-naked women but I don’t think they would stop visiting their favorite sports sites if those sites stopped showing scantily-clad women.  Am I silly to assume most men watch sports for the same reason most women do…because they like sports?

I feel the need to mention this again:  Thursday is Opening Day and we’re being introduced to this gig with an underwear model instead of something related to baseball.  I have to type it out to wrap my brain around it.

This won’t be something I’ll watch and Major League Baseball knows this.  Major League Baseball doesn’t care about this.  All they care about is getting the eyes something like this attracts.  Yes, I know I’m spitting into the wind because I can complain about this until my fingers cramp but it’s not going to change.  It’s 2011 and MLB thinks this is the way to attract fans.  That sound you hear is my head banging against my computer.

Thursday is Opening Day for Major League Baseball.  My mind will be on wins and losses and pitch counts and such and, oddly enough, not on what a Victoria’s Secret model is talking about on a, supposedly, baseball-themed program.

*Tonight on NESN Heidi Watney told a vendor in Houston that she wanted her ice cream in a pink cup “because I’m a girl!”.  There aren’t enough words to describe how much it annoyed me.

…also, it’s fair to say I was very emotional while writing this.  I understand many won’t agree and some will but if I only wrote to appeal to the masses I’d be pretty damn boring wouldn’t I?

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