The makers and promoters of the patronizing "Baseball Boyfriends" app have an appreciation of women and baseball that apparently froze in the 1950s. Donna Reed is dead—long live the female stathead.
Baseball has always had an ambivalent relationship with its female audience, often assuming they had to be catered to or patronized to stoke their interest in the game. For those marketing the game, it often seems as if the idealized image of the distaff fan is not the modern woman, whose adherence to received, stereotypical notions of gender roles erodes by the day, but Ruth Ann Steinhagen, the schizophrenic who, obsessed with Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, lured him into a trap and tried to murder him in 1949. Women, in their view, see ballplayers as sex objects as much or more than they do as athletes involved in a competition that can hold their interest for its own sake. This seems to be the reasoning behind Baseball Boyfriends, a “fantasy” game aimed at women and girls in which participants “pick a new hottie or hang onto you hunk.” [sic]
Steinhagen, 19, had been fixated on Waitkus since seeing him play for the Cubs in 1947, making a shrine of his pictures and clippings and conducting an imaginary relationship with him. She had no interest in the game, she said, until she began to focus on Waitkus. “I just became nuttier and nuttier about the guy,” she later testified, “[I decided] if I can’t have him nobody can. And then I decided I would kill him.” On June 14, 1949, the Phillies were in Chicago. Steinhagen took a room in the Phillies’ hotel and had a note delivered to the first sacker: “Mr. Waitkus, It is extremely important that I see you as soon as possible. We're not acquainted, but I have something of importance to speak to you about.” After calling and being put off for half an hour, Waitkus appeared at Steinhagen’s room. According to her own testimony:
At the time I had a knife in my skirt pocket and was going to use that on him. When I opened the door he came rushing past me. I expected him to stand there and wait until I asked him to come in and during that time I was going to stab him with the knife. I was kind of mad that he came right in and sat down and didn’t give me a chance to stab him. He looked at me surprised and said, “What do you want to see me about?” I said, “Wait a minute. I have a surprise for you.”
A pennant-winner from long ago, and a little exercise in player appraisal.
In my chat earlier this week, I was asked to write something about the 1915 Phillies. "Sure," I said blithely. "I can do anything with dead guys!" As it turns out, the 1915 Phillies had one of those pennant races that didn't offer much in the way of drama. They opened strong, winning eight straight out of the gate, played back their lead to the Cubs, and played leapfrog with them through mid-July; when the Phillies lost to the Cubs on July 17, the two teams were tied at 41-34. Philadelphia then took the next three games from Chicago and never looked back, going 51-26 (.662) the rest of the way to put the pennant away. It was a year without any truly outstanding teams in the NL, but no team was truly horrible either. The Giants, at 69-83, were the best last-place team in NL history to that point. The Phillies, at 90-62, were the worst pennant winner.
It's do or die for LA in Chavez Ravine going up against Cole Hamels and the Flyin' Hawaiian.
Matchup: Phillies (92-70) at Dodgers (84-78), 5:22 p.m. PT, FOX Probable Starters: Cole Hamels (227 1/3IP, 3.52 RA, 1.08 WHIP, 196 K) vs. Chad Billingsley (200 2/3, 3.41, 1.34, 201) Pythagorean Record: Philadelphia, 93-69 (799 RS, 680 RA); Los Angeles, 87-75 (700 RS, 648 RA) Hit List Rankings: Philadelphia, #5; Los Angeles, #11 Series Favorite: Phillies, 84.9% (Up 3-1) Prospectus: After Monday's stunning comeback, the Phillies can secure their sixth berth in the Fall Classic with a win tonight, and pull down the curtain on the drama of Manny Ramirez's remarkable run with the Dodgers. Ramirez has of course helped overcome such a disadvantaged position before, as a member of the Red Sox in both the 2004 and 2007 ALCS. Those Boston teams were two of the 10 clubs that have come back to win three in a row after going down 3-1 in a best-of-seven. There have been 70 opportunities for such a reversal, putting the success rate at 14.3 percent, very close to the 15.1 percent chance which Clay Davenport has assigned to Los Angeles as a result of his current Monte Carlo simulation.
Notebook closes out the week with an all-NL edition, looking at the Cubs, Rockies, and Phillies.
This gap between best and second best is nothing new to Cubs fans. Back
in the days before the scales fell from my eyes and I ranked players
based on things like batting average and home runs, it seemed like
Sammy Sosa was routinely hitting two or three times as many home runs as
whoever was #2 on the team that year. It could be Mark Grace, or Henry
Rodriguez, or Matt Stairs, and it didn't matter, Sammy was leaving them
in the dust. As much as I enjoyed Sosa's power exploits, it always
seemed that having your offense concentrated in one player like that
couldn't be good for the team.