This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a woman or a girl
He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness, he’s lost lost
~ It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, James Brown
I couldn’t help but think of a few things when I heard about Mickey Callaway’s reported inappropriate behavior with women baseball reporters during not just his time as my beloved New York Mets’ manager, but his time as coach with the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organizations.
One was…this was the second time in the course of a month…in this short year…that the Mets had a current and former team lead type be exposed for humiliating not just themselves, but specifically female reporters who are simply doing their jobs in following and writing about the teams they are tasked with. (Though, Jared Porter’s behavior was documented as a Chicago Cubs executive…still doesn’t make it any BETTER).
The second was…my role as a “girl who likes baseball.” Even at age 45, living and breathing and eating baseball since I was seven years old…I **STILL** get the backhanded compliment about “you sure know a lot about baseball…for a GIRL.” (Anyone who knows me knows how ridiculous that is…I can talk circles around people with baseball…but that’s besides the point).
In my fandom, I started a little blog called “My Summer Family,” and I think I had a pretty decent following that I parlayed into finding a niche within a little literary community of Mets fan groups. I branched off and started my loudmouth sports fan Twitter account, wrote for several fan sites, and was even part of a successful podcast team.
Despite all that, the Mets never recognized me as a valuable blogger. Despite many people who had a seat at the table going to bat for me. I suspect it had to do with my “potty mouth.” Yet, there were far more vile bloggers out there who were not only recognized, but had carte blanche at Mets events that quite frankly disappointed and pissed me off. I was held to a much higher standard when it came to my writing than others. When I knew I was just as good as most of the people invited to the party.
Yet, I’m 45 years old. I’ve been a fan nearly 40 years, and I still get that whole knowing baseball for a girl…or my personal favorite, “YOUR a girl, and couldn’t possibly know about baseball.” Okay, pal. (PS The typo was the guy’s, not mine).
I’m the same age as Mickey Callaway. Though he was in a position of power, and though he probably doesn’t interact with women all that often due to the nature of his job (besides maybe those he is related to or married to), he has grown up in the same world I have. He has grown up in the same generation, where women are told they be anything they want to be, that women can do anything a man can do, and do it better.
Just so long as they look pretty, take a good joke in the form of a dick pic and don’t try to be equal at all.
That’s just a start.
We already know that baseball is a staunchly conservative sport, and lacks the diversity seen in the NBA and NFL. (I’m really just focusing on the players here). I’d say most of the men on these teams have been around other men who think and act and talk like them. They’ve had similar experiences in their lives and making their way through the big leagues.
They’ve also never had anyone call them out on their BS.
I do appreciate a free thinker in sports. When Russell Wilson was about to marry Ciara, they had planned to marry in his beloved state of North Carolina. They changed their venue to a castle in London because of the states’ controversial bathroom mandate.
In 2020, prior to the start of the football season, Drew Brees claimed he didn’t quite understand the peaceful protests during the National Anthem. After receiving criticism, he reversed his course and actually APOLOGIZED for missing an opportunity to understand and speak in support of his teammates who were protesting.
Many players in the NFL use their religion to explain away their talents and awards earned along the way. Yet, I don’t see a lot of players there using their religious beliefs as a platform to justify hateful thoughts and behavior.
I’m not saying it NEVER happens; I’m just saying that in the NBA or NFL, I see a lot more coming around on societal issues. In fact, the NBA has a B grade in gender hiring practices; the NFL has a C+ grade. MLB has a C rating. While middle of the road, it’s clear that they are not exploiting these hires to the best of their abilities to make MLB operate BETTER.
However, I keep coming back to Mickey Callaway. He’s the same age as me. Our generation has been sold a bill of goods since we were young that “once the old racists die and go away, racism will go away.” We see that has not come to fruition in the year of our lord 2021.
The old misogynists are not dying off either, it seems.
We were told we would be better. We were told we deserved better and could become better.
It’s not better.
Kim Ng recently became the first female GM in MLB. This was after YEARS of paying her dues — several years of several dues — and dealing with racist and misogynist comments throughout the years. One small step for woman, but womankind is still held back from having meaningful roles in baseball without their being some kind of “question” about how it was earned.
(Meanwhile, no one said shit when lucky sperm club winner Jeff Wilpon was insulting single moms in his organization…a woman who, by the way, made me feel so valued as a ticket holder in my years of being one).
During Sandy Alderson’s press conference following the termination of Porter as Mets GM, Hannah Keyser had Alderson admit to the fact that no one on his team had consulted any women to attest to his character prior to his hire. (This also seemed to be an “open secret” among the Cubs in 2016, but I guess winning championships was more important than sexual harassment. Same goes for Callaway, who no one guessed that other teams didn’t want him to be “their problem.”)
We know people are going to behave badly. That is just going to happen no matter how upstanding we all try to conduct ourselves in a given day.
However, there are miles and miles of runway in front baseball to not only make things better for women, but to get them a goddamn seat at the table without a penis being put in their faces.
Even within the diversity and inclusion efforts of sports, the old boys club mentality seems to overrule. With that, bad behavior still persists, since men will always protect other men. Which is how the Mickey Callaways and Jared Porters of the world go through life never being held accountable (well, maybe now they are…but they always seem to “fail up”), or rather rest on the idea that they’re simply “joking” or using a stock penis pic from Google photos. While they may make a concerted effort to hire more women, they are still being kept away from having a meaningful seat at the table.
I’d say for the most part, you shouldn’t shun loudmouthed women like me — or even quieter women who simply want to follow their passions — from being involved in baseball operational decisions since it can only make teams better.
And isn’t that the point of teams…to make them better? Once talent flows, you can weed out the assholes and those gaming the system.
James Brown once sang about it being a man’s world. But it’s nothing without a woman. And it’s just too damn bad that in a world where we’ve grown up with women sitting at the same table, men can’t fucking appreciate that. Perhaps that can change. I won’t hold my breath, though.