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It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World

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.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

As I was walking down the street one day
A man came up to me and asked me what the time was that was on my watch, yeah
And I said…

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to cry

Andrew Cuomo’s office had to send regular reminders about what day it was.

The last live sporting event I attended was on March 4th of 2020. A few short day later, our city went into lockdown.

The world ended. And I needed sports. At a time when I needed a distraction from what was going on <gestures wildly> out there, I didn’t have one for several months.

Shit, Governor Cuomo at one point had to post pictures at his press conferences reminding us of the day of the week.

So slowly but surely things returned. It wasn’t normal – far from it – since we couldn’t attend live games. But baseball started in July. Basketball restarted and ended not too long ago (only to restart just a few weeks ago). Hockey finished up their season. We are just a few days away from the 2021 season starting.

According to Rob Manfred, the baseball season is expected to start on time.

As for me? I still think it’s fucking June.

And I was walking down the street one day
A pretty lady looked at me and said her diamond watch had stopped cold dead
And I said…

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to cry

When you’ve carved out a lot of your life around sports, 2020 was a year that was just all sorts of fucked up.

I spend a lot of my summers traveling to baseball stadiums, and originally, I had planned to visit four stadiums in total. None of it happened. I did get to Cooperstown, spiritual home of baseball. Even if I do have ulterior motives in getting to the nearby cider mill for goodies when I visit.

My last live sporting event was a sport where I don’t even have a team I really follow. I say I am a Jazz fan, only because I used to love John Stockton, and my husband is also a big fan (simply a coincidence, along with the other sports teams we follow). (Bring the Sonics back, and we’ll talk about my team loyalties)

Weird shit happened along the way. The Marlins were the team to beat in the NL East (well one of them anyway…certainly not 2019 World Champs Washington Nationals, as we thought they might be).

The Seahawks let Russ cook until apparently Brian Schottenheimer got food poisoning. At least nobody got COVID-19.

Two Los Angeles based teams won championships in their respective sports.

And my teams kept disappointing me one way or another.

Things were weird, but they were also strangely familiar.

And I was walking down the street one day (people runnin’ everywhere)
Being pushed and shoved by people (don’t know where to go)
Trying to beat the clock, oh, no I just don’t know (don’t know where I am)
I don’t know, I don’t know, oh (don’t have time to think past the last mile)
(Have no time to look around) And I said, yes I said (run around and think why)

It’s tough to be a sports fan now. Sure, we have social media that ties us, but it’s tough to believe that it’s only been a year since the last time we watched a Seahawks game at Carlow East. It seems much longer than that.

We are still in a holding pattern regarding attending actual games.

The hockey season started on Wednesday, and the Rangers play their first game tonight. There is still no Captain on the team, but alternate Mika Zibanejad is uncertain for the opener.

Now we are about to start yet another sport with COVID still being an issue, when we hear about New Zealand having concerts and shit. We do not know when and if we can attend live sporting events anytime soon. The vaccine is rolling out now, for a disease that didn’t exist 16 months ago. Shit is weird.

We are stuck in a perpetual Pandemic Groundhog’s Day, which apparently we can only get out of if we better ourselves. We are making incremental moves at making ourselves better to get out of this vicious cycle…if only to hold out for another week where we might be able to see some progress, finally.

Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t)
Does anybody really care (care about time)
If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)
We’ve all got time enough to die

In the meantime, the team that always sets me up for disappointment is shockingly not doing that. The same day many of us danced in the streets to a more modern tune of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” the Mets were sold to a new ownership group. I’d say the ownership group is headed up by Steven Cohen…but honestly, I think we are just happy, again, because the owner no longer is related to, whether by blood or marriage, to Fred Wilpon. Drink up!

For the first time in my Mets fandom, we have an owner who takes an active interest in what the fans are looking for, what the fans want. Because he IS a fan; not some nostalgic for the Brooklyn Dodgers fan, and the Mets are a fine substitute.

He asks about what kind of things we’d want to see at the stadium. But it’s not fluff: the Mets also just pulled off a blockbuster trade to bring some of the most exciting players in baseball to Queens.

It’s funny what love for a sport and money can do. Happy Days Are Here Again, indeed.

Everybody’s working (I don’t care)
I don’t care (about time)
About time (no, no)
I don’t care

As I write this, MSG Network is replaying one of the best games I have watched in my lifetime: the Zibanejad five goal game on March 5, 2020. The world ended shortly after that. I held onto hope after that game; that the Rangers would be viable players in a play-in for the playoffs that occurred over the summer. Not only did they lose, they also lost Henrik Lundqvist.

Henrik Lundqvist shortly after that signed with the Capitals; only to be diagnosed with a heart issue that required surgery. His return is uncertain; more championship hopes dashed as well. Yes, I know; his health is more important.

In the middle of death, we still realize that life is truly fleeting.

Which is why we need sports as a distraction; now, more than ever. I may still think it’s still June, even though the weather suggests otherwise, and the date on the calendar says January 14th. It’s the 32nd anniversary of my first ever Rangers game. It’s also Opening Night for the 2021 season.

I may get my dates and years mixed up; but I’ll know the time is 7pm when the puck drops.

I Am The Warrior

ImageI haven’t watched pro-wrestling since the late ’80s, early ’90s maybe.  I remember as a kid, my cousin and I would play in our grandma’s backyard, and pretend to be our favorite wrestlers.  I forget who we were, but I was probably Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and he might have been Hulk Hogan a few times.  We’d play our “entrance music,” slap “high fives” with the tree branches, and make our way to the “squared circle” (usually the trampoline).  We’d pretend to beat the crap out of each other (or sometimes, for real) as our wrestlers.  Then we’d play with our WWF action figures.

That’s how old school I am.  I used to watch the old World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment, which was good for me as a change, since I was probably one of those geeks who got all excited then simultaneously disappointed when the WWF stood for “World Wildlife Foundation”).  This was right around the time Hulk Hogan got famous.  Then everyone got in on the party.  The Iron Sheik. Nikolai Volkoff (I think that’s how his name was spelled).  Old timers like Bruno Sammartino and Gorilla Monsoon.  Tony Atlas. Shawn Michaels before he was the Heartbreak Kid.  All Vince McMahon’s vision.

Before The Rock became a household name (even prior to being movie star Dwayne Johnson), there was another Rock known as a Blade Runner.  You may remember his tag team partner, Sting, who went to become one of the most famous wrestlers.  But Rock turned into the Dingo Warrior, and then ultimately “Warrior.”  The Ultimate Warrior.

Like The Rock after him, I think fans were getting antsy about being told who to “like” and who to “boo.”  The good guys, the bad guys.  There was always a defined role.  The Warrior was different.  Like his contemporary, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, they didn’t give a crap who cheered or booed them. 

Something about Warrior drew me to him.  I wouldn’t say I was his biggest fan, but I certainly remember his matches.  His infamous WrestleMania match with Hulk Hogan.  Him beating the Honky Tonk Man, whom I LOATHED. 

Then I guess I became too cool for school and stopped watching pro wrestling entirely.  I have to say, it was easy to keep up with the story lines, especially since that cousin I referred to earlier still followed it somewhat religiously.  I knew enough about the characters that one time I played “Shag, Marry or Throw off a cliff” my theme was pro wrestlers: Chris Jericho, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan, respectively. 

Clearly, something rang with Warrior, who embraced this persona to the nth power.  Fans, even if they didn’t love him, appreciated him and his value to the brand.  In his post-wrestling career, he gave inspirational talks.  He was a family man.  And like many pro wrestlers before him, left us all too soon. 

Image

It’s easy with Twitter and Facebook to follow the goings-on each Monday night or any Pay-Per-View spectacular like WrestleMania or Survivor Series (does that even exist anymore?). But what I did know that the last WWE Hall of Fame induction, Ultimate Warrior rose once again.  Then he made an appearance on RAW to give what was to be his last inspirational talk. 

Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe their final breath and if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit will be immortalised.

James Brian Hellwig was Warrior’s birth name, but he legally changed it several years ago.  He was only 54 years old.  He was younger than my parents.

You don’t know where life will take us.  We can literally be here one minute, and gone the next.  This was true with Warrior, as he blew up Twitter several times this week, the last time what pretty much anyone who followed his career hoped to be a cruel hoax.

I can’t help but wonder, from my point of view where I worshipped these legends as a child, that someone, somewhere has failed them.  If we think about the late ’70s/early ’80s, and senseless substance abuse deaths like John Belushi or Douglas Kenney from National Lampoon, I feel as if in a way that pro wrestlers seem to take the fall. 

Like Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, his only identity in being Randy “The Ram” Robinson gave him life, but also was his demise. 

I don’t know how Warrior died, but these men tend to leave us way too soon.  I wish I had paid closer attention to his last few appearances, but so goes life I suppose.  We are each one day closer to our last breath.  And his was just ironically too soon after we all saw whom many of us recalled as an old friend.