When It Comes To Women Fans, MLB Keeps Dropping The Ball

As a child, I wasn’t aware that girls weren’t supposed to like baseball. Sure, the older boys on my block might have been bigger and rougher than me, but that never stopped me from grabbing my mitt and joining in on every game of .500 or hotbox they played. To their credit, these boys, on the verge of entering high school, never objected to the 8-year old with pigtails getting in on their game. As long as you loved the game and could keep  up, you were in. The rules were so simple.

So why is MLB making it so hard?

From the MLB “Fan Cave,” a tricked-out apartment that so resembles a frat house common room it’s been dubbed the “Man Cave,” to sparkly pink MLB gear that looks like it was intended for pre-teen prostitutes, the MLB just don’t “get” its female fans.

What’s more, they don’t seem to have much interest in understanding them. A quick glimpse at MLB Network’s on-air personalities shows two pretty faces in a sea of men. Does MLB really expect us to believe that there aren’t women out there who could break down a game as well as Dan Plesac, Kevin Millar, and Eric Byrnes? Sure, they may want to put former players (we can hardly call Millar, Plesac or Byrnes “stars”)  in front of the camera, but when a network routinely chooses men who spout nothing but predictable platitudes  and struggle with the English language over professional women sportswriters and analysts, something is wrong. When your network looks even more sexist than ESPN, something is REALLY wrong.

While MLB has done an admirable job recognizing Mother’s Day and the fight against breast cancer, its attempt to make women feel included in the sport stops there.  In 2010, MLB said in a press release that women make up approximately 45% of its fan base; the highest among any of the four major professional sports. News flash: a significant portion of those women aren’t mothers, don’t have breast cancer, and don’t want to wear shirts that say “Meet Me In The Dugout.” Even Annie Savoy would shudder at this Paris Hilton-inspired monstrosity.

Even on Opening Day, the happiest day of the year for me and scores of other women across America, MLB’s thoughtless and blatant sexism was shoved down our throats. In fact, whoever came up with this idea should be “future-endeavored.” As in “good luck in your future endeavors.”

Gosh MLB, unless this Victoria’s Secret model subscribes to Baseball Prospectus, there is nothing I’d like to ask her on Opening Day.   But thanks for using a beautiful women in a not-so-subtle effort to lure in male viewers and market your insulting clothing line to my gender.  Because what do women care about as much as fashion and shopping?

Perhaps the powers-that-be at Major League Baseball are simply too far behind the times to recognize what it means to be a modern female baseball fan, so let me lay it out for you: My generation of women and those who follow are the daughters of Title IX. We grew up playing, living, and breathing sports, just like the boys. We watch baseball at about the same rate as the boys. Those of us who are over 16 years old don’t want to wear pink or clothing that sparkles. We don’t want to be told that, because we can’t throw a fastball 90-mph, we aren’t qualified to write about, talk about, or work in major league baseball.  I mean, come on, have you seen some of the guys working in front offices around the league?

Most of all, we want to feel welcome for more than the dollars that line our pocketbooks.

As little girls, we ripped holes in our jeans sliding into first in the back yard. Among piles of stuff animals in princess-decorated rooms. we too dreamed of hitting a walk-off homerun in the World Series for our favorite team. As adults, we call in “sick” to work on Opening Day and stare out the window in the dark of Winter, waiting for Spring. We not only play catch in the back yards with our children, we teach them how to throw mind-bending sliders. We are worth more than pink bats and Mother’s Day promotions.

We are girls, and we love baseball.

We only want baseball to love us back.


9 thoughts on “When It Comes To Women Fans, MLB Keeps Dropping The Ball

  1. tsan says:

    Good work, Julie! I appreciate all you do to promote female sports lovers. MLB, NBA, NHL and NFL may or may not ever “get it” but with strong bright women as yourself speaking out the odds are getting better!

  2. maim says:

    I love you Julie.

  3. Steph Diorio says:

    THIS. SO MUCH. I love every word of this.

    Now I just need to find myself a team that’ll let me play, too. Done with being the batting practice catcher – I want to start!

  4. alexisb82 says:

    One of the most frustrating things about being a baseball fan is how slow the game is to change and adapt to the times.

    This is a fantastic piece, though! :)

  5. Seriously, Julie. This is amazing. And so true, it hurts.

  6. AGirlintheSouth says:

    Amen. As a mother of a 9 year old girl who loves baseball as much as I do, it’s incredibly frustrating that she has already learned that baseball is a boy’s club. She loves her Astros, but the biggest influence on her right now is their Sr. Director of Digital Media, Alyson Footer. Why? Because she sees Alyson give insightful commentary on pregame shows and postgame wrapups. She sees her tweets explaining complicated on field decisions during a game. I’m thankful that here in Houston there is a woman affiliated with our team that she can look up to, but I also realize this is the exception, not the rule.

    Thanks for writing this. It’s spot on.

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