[Ed. Note: We alert you to the fact that this article deals with an adult theme that may offend a few of our readers.]
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the maxim that if you can imagine it, there’s porn about it on the Internet. That’s no joke. It was only a few years ago that I first learned of fan fiction, when a friend explained that one of his coworkers not only contributed to, but ran, an extensive website entirely dedicated to fan-written stories about the characters from the animated series Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. The stories that turned sexual—yes, stories about cartoon chipmunks that turn sexual—were called slash fiction, named for the typographic symbol in the "Kirk/Spock" liaisons that launched the genre in the 1970s.
Naturally, this prompted my friends and I to go online and see if there was any kind of subject, anything at all, and that did not have something pornographic written about it and posted on the Internet. The answer: not really, no. We couldn’t find anything pairing Jay Leno with bandleader Kevin Eubanks, but that was about it.
What we did discover was a trove of imagined romance and sex between baseball players, on multiple websites. I thought that over the years I’d seen most of the dark corners of sports fandom, but as it turns out, I still was not fully prepared for baseball fan fiction. If you've thought about it at all, you might expect to find quite a few tales of Jeter and A-Rod, and those are certainly there. But I was less braced for just how prominently players like, for example, Doug Mirabelli feature. You just do not ever expect to encounter the phrase, to quote one story, “Doug Mirabelli’s huge, unlubed…”
Well—Doug Mirabelli’s huge, unlubed anything, really. Let’s leave it at that.
Equally unexpected were the following slash fiction subjects, which I found on sites like “The Boys of Summer” and the “Baseball Fanfiction Archive”: Kyle Farnsworth and Pudge Rodriguez; Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra; Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff; Bubba Crosby and Chuck Knoblauch (posted in November 2010, so someone was thinking about this one for a while); and Melky Cabrera cheating with, of all people, Jaret Wright:
Jaret licked the cheekbone closest to him. “Melky?”
“I … I don’t …”
“What about Robinson?”
One LiveJournal user has for months been posting a now 12-part epic containing 70 chapters, in the form of IM conversations detailing the forbidden love between Ian Kinsler and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. From chapter 45:
you love baseball that much and work so hard at it
and even if we dont count the baseball
how much you love it and how hard you work at it is still you
and if it wasnt baseball itd be something else
thats what you are
ikan3030:thats why i need you salty
because when you love me its like i exist and even if i broke down and couldnt play anymore thered still be something in me that mattered to someone
I did not read far enough to discover how, or whether, imaginary Kinsler dealt with his imaginary beloved’s trade to Boston; one can only hope he finds a connection with imaginary Chris McGuiness.
I came across a story about Kyle Farnsworth and Vance Wilson, but it was labeled with a warning: “people who are squeamish about bloodplay, knives, severely disturbed mental states and semi-non-con (but only semi!) should not touch this with a 20 foot stick.” As that would include me—not to mention that, as a Yankees fan, I’m just squeamish about Kyle Farnsworth in general—I didn’t, and am grateful for the heads-up. Even in the name of scientific research for a column to advance baseball knowledge, I have my limits.
To be clear, this isn’t so squirm-inducingly uncomfortable because it’s about gay sex. MLB’s homophobia is pronounced, and the last thing I want is to reinforce it in any way. No, it’s because real people have been repurposed and fitted into other people’s fantasies—extremely personal fantasies—in a spectacularly odd way. It’s harmless enough. (Except in the unlikely event that, say, Vance Wilson Googled himself particularly thoroughly one day… yikes. The moral of the story, as always: do not Google yourself.) And obviously, people can write whatever they want, especially about public figures. But it still seems sort of presumptuous, to me, to use real people in your “bloodplay” fantasies anywhere outside of the safe confines of your own head. It’s not exactly wrong so much as it’s rude. Do whatever you want with Spock and Kirk; they’re imaginary to begin with. Once you rope actual humans into it, it feels like some kind of line’s being crossed.
Many writers seem aware of that, and post disclaimers like this one from the Cabrera/Wright story: "The boys own themselves. I like to play—but I always put them back nicely." I’m not sure what that accomplishes, other than legal cover, since no one was likely to take one of these stories as nonfiction reporting. And really, slash fiction tells us absolutely nothing about any of the players mentioned—and tells us way, way more than we wanted to know about the authors. Some stranger’s highly intimate fantasy about Bronson Arroyo does not feel like anything you should be able to stumble across online. But then, in a lot of ways, we all look at baseball players like characters in a daily soap opera, and maybe these stories are just taking that to its illogical conclusion.
Anyway, that’s where the discomfort comes from, I think, but also the humor, especially in the rather surprising choice of subjects. I just can’t say “Bubba Crosby slash Chuck Knoblauch” with a straight face. And for better or worse, it’s certainly it’s a testament to the diversity of baseball fans. For everyone who thinks Derek Jeter is dreamy, someone’s imagination is sparked by Eric Hinske, and in some ways that’s actually reassuring. I guess it takes all kinds, even the kind who imagines and then describes Kevin Millar having a drunken threesome with Keith Foulke and Jason Varitek, an image that, given the option, I would have preferred not to have introduced into my skull.
I think we each have our own individual worst nightmare about what someone might find on our web browsers. I had to revise and update my personal worst the other night, when a friend came over while I was researching this column, and went to use my computer—then immediately asked what the hell I’d been looking at.
“Nothing. Just open a new window.” But my friend was already reading:
When he got to Pedroia's pants, Derek teased him by slowly unzipping him…
“It’s for work!”
Then Derek found out how big the little man underneath him really was.
There’s no coming back from that one. Let someone catch you with Dustin Pedroia slash fic open on Firefox, and now matter how eloquently you explain the questing and curious nature of sabermetrics, they will look at you oddly for the rest of the night, if not the rest of your life. And here’s yet another sentence I could never have imagined myself writing two weeks ago, but: Thank goodness it wasn’t the Vance Wilson/Kyle Farnsworth story.
Emma Span has written for the Village Voice, the New York Press, Slate, and The Daily, writes regularly for Bronx Banter, and is the author of 90% of the Game Is Half Mental: And Other Tales From the Edge of Baseball Fandom, published by Villard in 2010. She lives in Brooklyn.
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Now, just wondering, did you happen to come across any BP writer fan fic? :-)
"Whatever you are having ..."
"Well, I'm a 10 incher."
Please minus that.
That is, the link to tvtropes.org with no warning right there in the first sentence.
Publishing this was a complete lapse in judgment, and I'm really disappointed.
What the HELL is the point of even researching this subject, much less thinking we want to read about it??
I've known Emma, and read her work, for a few years now. She knows her baseball, writes quite well, and is adroit with a quip. If this article didn't meet your standards, I ask you to give her another shot. I'm quite sure there is something of her fertile imagination that might work for you.
I also understand why some people think it's funny - I just don't agree that this is the place for it. To clarify, I have no objection with Emma's writing, but rather the fact that somebody felt the need to present this topic at all. Does it add any value? I say no. Does it run the risk of offending a significant portion of BP's readership? You can't honestly say that it doesn't, and the comments here bear that out (and probably will for the rest of today and parts of tomorrow).
Given that risk, I don't understand why the editorial staff thought this article was worth it. I'm really disappointed that Emma's debut wasn't on a topic that most of us pay to read about, rather than a pop-cultury look at baseball smut.
Second, the article ran free, so no one had to pay to read something they may have ended up disliking strongly.
I'm looking forward to reading more of Emma's work...on different subjects. :)
But what on earth does her loopy subject matter have to do with why I am laying out good money for a BP Premium sub? What are you people thinking? I suggest the new Editor discover fast what new editors always have to discover- that adult supervision (which is really what you are paid for) is still required.
The thing is, I like the variety of choices in who/what I can read here.
This kind of stuff exists for everything you can think of--video games characters, movie characters, or as Emma said, TV characters. But those are all fake--what makes the baseball player slash fic inherently creepy is that these are real people, and they have been twisted to become characters. The main focus of the piece is that creepiness; it's not like it's a glorification of the, uh, genre.
One of? This must be THE absolute, definitive, no-question-about-it oddest baseball subculture to which I've ever been exposed.
For those of you who did enjoy this, you can hear Emma's spoken word version from last week's Varsity Letters 5th Anniversary event, where it received a raucous reception:
I just think this one completely crosses the line and I'm surprised the editorial staff doesn't recognize that a large portion of your readership will agree with me.
This article completely ambushes BP's readership from a content standpoint and unfortunately the content itself is serves no purpose.
That was the first and last thing from Emma Span that I'm going to risk reading and now I have to be suspicious of any new BP content.
Jeeps. And I'd just been lured back by the new authors... I'm scared to read them now-apparently they strongly support the new direction Spann's pornography points to...
On the other hand, this is the funniest use of "ambush" in any context, ever.
And I just inadvertently flagged one of my own comments for moderation, which somehow -- given the kerfuffle over the article -- seems about right.
Perhaps the pros and cons of publishing non-baseball commentary?
Pros: Mildly amusing half of your subscribers in a forgettable way.
Cons: Irritating/pissing off the other half in a memorable way.
This was a FUNNY, lighthearted article about a segment of baseball fandom that few knew existed. It never purported to be anything else. Many people come to BP for the analysis, but the personality of the writers is what makes this a great place. As soon as BP starts choking out writing that is edgy or controversial, it loses what makes it great. VORP was edgy and controversial. Ease up.
Just tell me that there isn't any slash fic devoted to Don Mossi.
Great Article too!
No offense taken on my end; the column was intended to be funny, and I hope most people find it to be, but it's okay that it's not everyone's cup of tea. sfastatsprof, there are indeed a ton of great baseball writers out there, both at BP and elsewhere; of course you should read the ones you like.
We can disagree without it going beyond that. Just because you and I think this article crosses the line doesn't mean there's a systemic problem around here.
I am not remotely offended by it but I have no desire to read this kind of thing at my baseball information website of choice. Keep publishing this kind of garbage and I will move on.
There are many different people here that enjoy different. I not only laughed (Somebody asked "What purpose did this serve?" It served the purpose of making people laugh. Which is easily one of the top few things people should do every day), I also thought the article was well written and thought provoking.
Oh and by the way, in the context of your strawman, guess what? They 9previsou articles about PEDS and gambling) actually were about baseball. Are you seriously equating discussion about the impact of PEDS on performance on a baseball content-driven site with musing about homophobic fantasies?
I said nothing about PEDS. However, I remember an article discussing the rise in medical waivers amongst MLB players for the use of Adderol after the ban on amphetamines went into effect.
And this was probably just a Freudian slip on your part, but none of the fantasies Ms. Span researched seemed homophobic. Quite the contrary, actually.
All I want to know is: Did you at least get his autograph?
Do you often post comments on Internet humor pieces that you don't find funny?
Meanwhile, I am glad you're contributing to the site, and look forward to more.
This article however, was possibly the best thing I have ever read on this site, and I applaud you and all the people who run this thing for publishing it.
You must be a Democrat.
I understand the business and editorial decision to run the article. Heck, it was one of the featured articles on Ballbug the day it ran and no doubt introduced a lot of readers to the site. Still, the creep of "fun" and irrelevant "color" commentary reminds me of the dumbing down of ESPN.com, which seems to be the trend for websites that want to increase readership and revenue. Hopefully BP doesn't go down that path, but if it does, I'm sure a lot of the original readership will find the next BP...
Albert Pujols article, transaction analysis, a couple of fantasy articles, article on fictional gay sex among baseball players.
Just your average Friday at Baseball Prospectus.
Welcome aboard, Emma!
Thanks, Ms. Span--
Hendry signed Choi to a one-year, $500k deal for 2011. Choi was called up on May 6 to replace the struggling Carlos Pena (who was later dealt to the Yankees for Manny Banuelos, after Mark Teixeiraâ€™s sudden retirement to pursue a career in lawn bowling) and batted .286 with 43 homers (good for a .409 OBP) over the final five months, adding another 6 dingers in the post-season including a 9th-inning grand slam in Game 7 of the World Series to defeat the Yankees and win the Cubsâ€™ first championship since 1906.
Maybe this will spark anti-fan fic porn, where Jaret tells Melky, "Melky, bro! Let's work on our fielding and take batting practice." Balance things out a bit.
Maybe it's because I *like* "tasteless" humor; I loved National Lampoon, too.
I'm resigning from this debate.
Let's just hope they don't get matching tatoos.
Glad to have you along, Emma. Variety from the standard top 10 minor leaguers and how PECOTA is a little better than everything else is nice.
Also a criticism that Americans are uneducated. Don't know why I have that urge to 's when I pluralize nouns...
And I don't think folks are complaining that they are offended. I think they are complaining that the article doesn't belong on the site.
I really couldn't care either way.
But I'm obviously one of the under-educated ones. Lol!
Fo shizzle, Patrick. None other than the Doggfather himself taught me, "Study long, study wrong."
I love that BP thinks of itself as a crunchy statistical core surrounded by the gooey, nougaty culture of the game. That's what I'm paying for.
I will always support decisions to publish oddball stuff like this, even if it forces me to remember that something exists that I had tried desperately, desperately to forget.
I realize that other readers may not share my morality, and that's fine; I have no desire to impose my beliefs on others. That's the great thing about baseball... it's a beautiful, neutral common ground in cultural discourse, something that we can all share and enjoy and discuss, regardless of our beliefs on other topics. I loved reading a site like BP that could bring all of us together.
Now, I feel like I have to choose between my beliefs and my love of baseball. Yes, some readers can make the argument that I simply don't have to click on the articles I object to, and they may have a point. I just wanted to express the sentiment that I was able to feel, for a long time, that BP was a "safe" place on the internet where I did not have to put up my guard. I'm sad that I can't feel that way any longer.
Unfortunately, I work in the non-profit sector in a developing country, so I don't have a lot of disposable income. For a long time, BP was a little splurge I made room in my yearly budget for (I don't pay for any other internet content). I'm sure I'll be ridiculed for this, but I feel like I may have to reconsider my BP renewal this year.
All this said, however, I appreciate the honest effort Emma Span has spent on writing this article. I may not agree with the topic choice, but I can read her love for baseball in her words. You have talent, and I wish you the best.
By the way, there are just a treasure troves of untapped jokes here, but I am not going go there. Like wanting to lead the league in DP's. Whoops, I went and did it.
not rational, but that doesn't mean that there isn't reason for it.
Exactly my sentiments. I have as perverse a sense of humor as any, but this article was like my wife slapping me in the face with a wet trout as soon as I came home from work with flowers.
If that made sense to you, you know what I mean.
I could not articulate what I didn't like about the column until I read this. I am not a prude. I am not a religious conservative. I am a long time subscriber, and this just doesn't fit with my idea of BP at all, and it can't help but make me wonder about the direction of the site. Christina, Kevin, and Jay are my favorite writers by far, and I would pay my subscription for their work alone. I suppose this doesn't make sense, because I know I don't have to click on anything I don't want to read, but to me an article like this lessens the experience.
I agree with this sentiment, but I feel it is a community of people with a sense of humor. I am really surprised by the negative comments and strong reactions to this piece. It was an excellent and funny article. Keep up the good work Emma.
"Maybe people's disappointment is
not rational, but that doesn't mean that there isn't reason for it."
If someone's disappointment is irrational by definition it means they don't have a reason for it.
C: "Mine's bigger."
M: "VORP's not everything, ya know.
C: "Yeah but if ya got it, flaunt it, that's what I say."
M: "Whatever rocks your boat I guess. I get turned on by a great slashline."
C: "There ya go. But don't start bragging about your PECOTA. They effed up your comps, and you know it."
M: "True enough, but being a PECOTA hero draws a lot of fans."
C: "Sure. But your PECOTA makes you look overlarge -- like one of those male ballet dancers with his pants stuffed with a towel. We'll see soon enough what you've really got."
In this instance, what your subscription has bought you is the right to comment in this thread. Some of you who've done so have registered your dissent, and it's been duly noted, as has the appreciation of those who enjoyed the piece.
I recognize the general sentiment of those offended that this article was an enormous change of pace, and completely unexpected in terms of, well, everything!
A South Park / Jackass type of alert at the beginning would have certainly gone a long way. Then again, who knew?! Even the Jackass notice likely didn't occur on the very first episode.
I don't always notice on the home page if there's a logo. And even if I do, once I click on the article, I won't remember if there's a logo there or not.
If a reader's rights are somehow different for an article that is premium or free, then make it more clear on the article itself. Why not a logo on the article itself, rather than the page prior? Why not at the end of the article, saying "this page available for all and not part of your subscription".
Unless you do that, then BPro should not expect a subscriber to respond differently in the comments section based on whether the article was free or not.
There are plenty of people that get here from their Google Reader. They won't see any indication that it's free or not.
Jay said no such thing. A subscriber has the right to both read and comment on any article. For a subscriber, there is no difference in rights based on whether the article is in front of or behind the pay wall.
"It's probably worth pointing out that whether you liked this piece or not, none of you paid money to read it - it was out in front of the paywall, free to anyone who stopped by."
I don't see why it was worth pointing out at all other than to tell us to have a different standard.
Nice to see the whole community out (on both sides).
I'm sure Emma is a terrific writer, and the responsiblity for the article is on the editorial staff, but I really never expected to see something like this here.
But as far as BP's new direction, don't think for a minute that it doesn't involve a heavy emphasis on good sabermetric analysis of the game. Jeremy Greenhouse, Dan Turkenkopf, Sky Kalkman--these guys are all heavyweight names in the saber field, and deservedly so. Hopefully, I and the other regular stats writers will also continue to produce content that will advance the thinking in the field as well as being enjoyable to read.
So thanks to Emma and the Editors!
Mr. Met slash Philly Phanatic would do it though.
Second: What, no "The Machine"?
Third: I think there's some interesting stuff to discuss from this article. For one, I respectfully disagree with Emma about the source of discomfort (at least among het males): It is because it's two dudes, Major Leaguers, no less! That's not meant as a judgement; just not my bag. I think Emma's aware of that, because she presented it as: "Wow! There is some freaky shit out there! Amirite?"
The reason Emma actually gave, that the stories are about actual people, just doesn't hold water. Tons of porn stories are written about actual people, it's just that they're usually celebrities, particularly ones who have sex appeal. It's when the stories are about people who are not known for being sexy that it starts to feel weird.
Think about what that means: If your fantasies don't fit a societally imposed type, you're considered an outcast.
Kudos for leading on this issue BP. Keep breaking new ground!
(Now I'm too scared to actually Google "Tom Colicchio/Anthony Bourdain"...)
Athletes are celebrities and generally have a lot of sex appeal. They are young, rich, and usually have impressive physiques. Does it really surprise anybody that people would write fan fiction - straight and gay - about them? The choice of players is often strange and it's unfortunate that fictional stories about real people are being put in public, but this is what fandom is for some people.
I still remember the day when a gay friend I had told me about his crush on Jason Varitek. Thankfully, I'm open-minded enough to see that it's no different from me finding Misty May sexy.
For my part, you are utterly wrong.
As a big fan of CK's writings (both her style and her oh-so-witty use of non-baseball references in baseball articles) I can appreciate a good non-statgeek interjection or divergence from topic. But a whole article that is off-the-wall? Yeesh. How Greenwhich Village/unshaven female armpits this article is. Like the Mapplethorpe crucifix photos, I think this article was written to shock for shock's sake. In that regard it worked. As an interesting baseball topic? It fell flat - in my humble opinion.
Not because it offends me, I would have found it mildly interesting on another non baseball site, but it has absolutely nothing to do with baseball and its sole purpose was sensationalism. "Hey, look it me, I am emma, please read me in the future you never know what I will say. "
But rendering user #57831's statement that they've "been a subscriber since the day it became a pay site" the complete and utter bullshit that it so obviously is makes the ID system so very, very worthwhile.
I know from experience (as do you) that all it takes is to say one thing slightly against the author to get the hell "minused" out of you. Since that didn't happen, I think it's pretty clear evidence that a large portion of BP's readership found issues with this article, one way or another.
There are those here who have complained about the article while adding very little to the discussion other than name-calling, and there are those who have voiced their concerns while engaging in a reasonable dialogue. The consensus appears to be that your comments fall into the latter camp, which is why comments such as (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?type=2&articleid=12920#76534) have received substantially positive ratings. Disagreeing without being disagreeable is a useful skill.
But I don't normally throw verbiage that harsh around, and I've noticed that tone doesn't matter - if you aren't in the majority you usually get panned. That's just the nature of message boards and +/- systems, I think.
Long and short, what you describe has just not been my experience here for the past 2+ years.
Insofar as your comments have gotten positive votes on this topic, I'd agree that it means that a significant number of people agree with you and are fairly passionate about it. (I don't, but that's irrelevant.)
Having been minused on more than a few occasions, I have stopped caring, beyond telling the BP denizens that the current plus/minus system is poorly thought out/executed. I will, on occasion, click there myself, plussing really interesting thoughts that add to the discussion and minusing some that are (in my mind) trolling. I have yet to minus anything in this thread, FWIW.
So my question remains - why are the objectors so upset? This article was not pornography in any sense. No more than a "traditional" BP article is actual baseball. BP is about baseball. Baseball, is, has been, and hopefully always will be, larger than just a game. Baseball is a reflection of society. Every important event in North American society from the US Civil War to today has been reflected in baseball. Sometimes society precedes the game (drugs) and sometimes the reverse is true (race). So here we have an article discussing the preponderance of a certain type of fandom that is pornographic in nature. Ms. Span is writing about something related to the game and related to society at large, reminding us that no element of society is safe from the all-encompassing clutches of baseball. How is that controversial? She didn't write the pornography (I assume), nor, as another commenter pointed out, link directly to any of it, thereby giving them more web-hits.
What if David Laurila interviewed Billy Bean. Not that one, the other one. Any such interview would have to touch upon being a homosexual in the clubhouse, would it not? Baseball, like most sports, is notoriously homophobic. I recently heard a funny story about an outspoken gay-bashing former MLB semi-star and how he tried to tap a lesbian. Now I hate homophobic jokes, but jokes about homophobes, on the other hand....
"beyond telling the BP denizens that the current plus/minus system is poorly thought out/executed"
I will say that there is (in my mind) a huge chasm of difference between interviewing a knowledgeable person about the subject of sexuality in the clubhouse and exploring smutty homosexual fanfic by nobodies on the internet. The two have absolutely nothing to do with each other, because it becomes a question of context. The former adds an insight into the workings of a baseball clubhouse. The latter provides what value? I can't see any.
I think you have some good points, and I agree (as I did above) that some people posting here are going way overboard or crossing the line even more than I feel the article did.
So, I've made my points and don't really have more to add. This is my last post unless somebody has something new/interesting to offer.
Welcome to the club.
I should never have read the comments. One forgets how churlish and uncharitable people can be when they are unstable enough to make public comments. But if I hadn't I'd have missed amazin_mess's suggestion of his bridge to far: Phanatic slash. Genius.
One of BP's hallmarks is its irreverence. Long may it continue. There is too much po-faced seriousness in baseball.
I guess what I'm also saying is that BaseballProspectus is a site for people who love baseball. So I don't mind it when people do some research or some humor away from the mainstream (assuming it's well done).
In any event, I like variety. No, I don't like every article on this site, but I'd rather there be a lot of authors and articles to choose from than just my personal cup of tea.
I am a big BP fan and a long-time subscriber. I like a lot of the articles and authors here and look forward to reading many of the new authors. I happened not to like this article, and did the only thing I could do to alert the editors that I didn't like it- by making a mild criticism in the comments section. One should be able to do so without being minused or being called a closet case.
To those outraged by BP having "sunk so low" while at the same time claiming their disgust had nothing to do with the fact the article focused on funny stuff about hot man-on-man action there can be no other response than "the lady doth protest too much!"
Do we have to like gay porn?
I don't need anyone to tell me how obsessed fans can be. I should think the mascot groupies were the best evidence of that. Celebrity stalkers help flesh out the nuttiness. Hmm nuttiness might be the wrong word with this article...
I used to think amazin_mess was kinda clever. Now I'm convinced it's a typo.
And before you say that the notgraphs section is clearly identified, and can be avoided, I'll remind you that this article was indicated as NSFW, and you can easily avoid all future articles by this writer if you were so horribly bothered by this.
Be careful over there...there's this guy named Carson Cistulli and he often goes off on tangents that have nothing whatsoever to do with baseball. And he doesn't warn you when it's about to happen!
I once read an article of his where he invented a new word -- "obnoxiating" -- and then he spent a paragraph talking about it.
Haven't been to Fangraphs since.
You see I'm the kind of guy...well, let's put it this way: Even if I thoroughly enjoy nearly all of what a place of business has to offer, I will cease to go there if they offer something I do not enjoy.
...and that's why I haven't purchased anything from anybody in over five years. I'm proud of that, though I'm awfully hungry now. And bored. And lonely.
Emma, this was excellent and I am looking forward to reading more of your work.
For everyone else on this thread, offended or not, some good news: just got an e-mail from Amazon that they've shipped BP 2011!
Regardless, I thought it was a funny article. Nice job, Emma Span.
"I've subscribed for blah blah blah and I've never my life blah blah blah this is gay porn blah blah blah I'm afraid of Emma Span blah blah blah you're a stupid dummy butt."
Apologies for the lack of typos.
With that said, I found the article to be rather lackluster. It seemed as if Ms. Span, who I'm sure is an excellent writer, basked too much in the shock value of slash fiction without really looking at the psychology of what this type of fiction means in the fan/player relationship. It was mentioned, yes, but it did not receive ample treatment and therefore seemed incomplete. That's just constructive criticism from a lowly unpublished grad student, so take it for what it's worth. I look forward to checking on what you do in the future.
I find it hard to believe that anyone on the internet would be ignorant of the existence of slash fanfic on the internet; and as such I tend to find most of the complaints about this article overblown.
Having said that: It had not really occured to me that there would be a substantial market for baseball slash fanfic, and I think Ben H. has made the best comment here -- namely, that the article missed an opportunity to explore the psychological issue of why baseball slash fanfic might exist.
I'm a diehard baseball fan; but I know almost nothing about baseball players. I would not recognize 98% of baseball players if I were standing next to them at a bus stop. I don't generally know how tall they are, what they look like, where they're from, what they like to do, or even (sometimes) their race. I view players as a manifestation of their skills & accomplishments; I generally forget to view them as people, too.
Looking at baseball through that lens, it hadn't occurred to me that one could develop fantasies of this nature about baseball players -- as opposed to fantasies about entertainers, or fictional characters, where the personalities and physical characteristics of the individuals are much better known.
For that reason, I thought the article was illuminating, but that it could have explored this issue further.
Nevertheless, I'm glad BP isn't letting itself be pigeonholed, glad for the diversity and quality of the new blood, and *very* glad that so many authors & editors have shown up here to defend the decision to publish. That, more than this particular article, led me to renew my subscription just now.
(But yes, don't shrink from the heavy numbers! Go Colin and Matt! I know you won't, just couldn't post this without adding that in.)
Article is far from my cup of tea, and it's something that I'm utterly disappointed that BP decided to publish. I certainly GET the notion that things need to be shaken up occasionally, but THIS trash?
That said, no reason to get my panties in a twist and say that I'm not going to renew. I'll probably check out Emma's next piece, but I don't come here for stuff like this anyway. KG, "On the Beat" (where is it btw?), Marc, CK, and a host of new and intersting talents. THAT is what will keep renewing my subscription to be as big a no-brainer as Frank McCourt silencing his doubters by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year $300 million deal in December 2011.
There are plenty of non-hypocritical non-homophobic BP readers who didn't like this article, but are not furious about it or anything. Your post captures this sentiment well.
I think the article was hilarious and informative. Thank you, Emma.
Emma's piece is literally the first bit i've read since that discussion that has fully reassured me, y'all were listening back then.
GREAT article, Emma - can't wait to see what you do next!
And I know I'm missing a few of em.
As to the larger subject, I too want to salute BP for not shying away from... what is it called?... "adult content?" Not just here, but, as someone else noted, on the podcast as well. Maybe 'cause I'm an adult. Maybe 'cause I have found the word "fuck" to be one of the most useful words in the English language. Maybe 'cause if it isn't hate speech, I just don't understand the concern. As my wife once liked to say about these tempests in teapots, "Darfur, people!"
I find it a bit quaint that BP feels it necessary to give warnings of such "adult content." So be it, I suppose, but please continue to resist any impulse to further censor such material.
Wait, what's that? This is an article about what?
Just figured that if there were over 200 comments from BP readers, it had to be something about PECOTA: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=12924
Change the +/- to:
+ Worthwhile reading
- Worthless reading (Pollution)
In neither case do you need to agree or disagree with the point being made.
I assume that with enough googling, one could probably find a lot of home videos involving baseball players. Does that deserve an article? I bet it could be funny! I don't remember any articles on BP about A-Rod and Madonna, or whatever night life Jeter is / was living. Maybe we need a TMZ edition of BP. If the stories discussed were true, this article would be pointless gossip. The fact that they are made up doesn't make it any better. Yes, one can have a worthwhile adult conversation about the why slash fiction exists, but I didn't see any effort in that regard in this particular article, just pointing and giggling.
Is it possible that MAYBE those of us that dislike this article AREN'T homophobes? Maybe we either don't like the article itself? Maybe we think this adds no value? Maybe we think the risk factor of publishing it puts BP in a bad light? Maybe we just think it sucks (I don't)? Give me a break. Stop applying labels, or at least provide some evidence for your default gut-reaction response.
I just don't have the words for how ridiculous it sounds to make a sweeping claim that everybody opposed to this article is a homophobe. I didn't vote for Obama. I guess I'm a racist too. Charged, tried, GUILTY. Jeez.
Straw man... no one made this claim.
My problem with this is that I'm not sure how it really relates to baseball AT ALL... it doesn't have to be PECOTA or number-crunching or Kevin's scouting reports or Steve's historical lessons, but in my recollection everything published on this site has in some way had a baseball-centric theme to it. On that standard I think this falls short. Change the names of players to those of your favorite movie stars, and it's the same article but without any baseball-relevant discussion.
That said, I think there was an attempt at that in this article, but it was buried in the middle, well past the point where it got lost due to the NSFW shock factor:
"MLB's homophobia is pronounced, and the last thing I want is to reinforce it in any way. No, it's because real people have been repurposed and fitted into other people's fantasiesâ€”extremely personal fantasiesâ€”in a spectacularly odd way."
So, if this article was meant as an examination of homophobia in baseball, or in pro sports in general, or how homophobia affects locker room culture or coverage of the game, then that's a thought-provoking topic worthy of this site. My dislike of this piece is not in the choice content, but in the failed execution of the attempt at a thoughtful examination and discussion of the topic.
This won't make me stop reading BPro, and it won't make me not read Emma again. We don't like things, we can always change the channel, so to speak... there's more than enough good programming here to keep me around. I just hope that the next attempt at a topic like this doesn't so badly miss the mark.
(Can't believe no one else has asked this yet, btw. What were the first 275 comments about?)
Which isn't to say I'm offended or bothered by it - nor am I particularly enthused by it - it was just kind of a surprise - "wait, did I see that right?"
What I am enthused to see is that BP is willing to try things that are different. It may not always be to everyone's cup of tea, but the intentional and definite direction BP seems to be taking recently in bringing in fresh voices and new perspectives is a definite plus in my book.
So long as you believe that you already know it all, you'll never know anything. I first came here many years ago from an old Rob Neyer link and the newness of the ideas is what kept me on. I'm glad to see that that approach hasn't changed, even if it does take different forms.
It's probably not a bad business move for BP though, considering that their readership skews younger, and there is so much more competition out there than there used to be. The people for whom this damages the BP brand like me are likely to be in a small minority. Pop culture as a whole has become so juvenile and saturated in sex that few people even notice anymore.
Heck I love traditional social norms... in a lot of ways, I think it would be great to go back to the days where dates were chaperoned and you had to ask the parent's permission before taking a significant other on a date. Back when you had to get to know someone through chatting and not at a bar or a resume/profile dating site ad.
But I also like freedom of speech, which means in the meantime, I have to skim over or skip things I don't like in order to read the things I do like.
If you didn't like the story, fine. I have some difficulty understanding how the story itself (as opposed to the fan fiction pieces) could be considered offensive -- it seems analogous to finding a story about war offensive because you are a pacifist -- but to each his own.
But as others already said, you don't have to read anything you don't want to read. Some people have rejected this argument without explaining why it isn't compelling. But it seems to answer every criticism. Nobody is forcing you to read anything. Yet some of the critics would have liked BP to have denied its readers the opportunity to read a story they enjoyed.
Given that either outcome would have angered some of BP's readership, isn't it good that they chose to publish? After all, everyone offended had the incredibly simple solution of just not reading the story.
FOr my purposes, I have time to read maybe one or two BP articles per day, and with those constraints I am disappointed to waste time reading even 1/3 of an article like this before realizing I don't care about it, b/c I could have spent my time on something much more interesting. So why am I wasting time commenting here if I am so time constrained? First, because I value what BP is and could be enough to invest some time into expressing my opinion. And second, because I'm in India and can't sleep due to jet lag. :-)
On the constructive side, I think BP desperately needs to improve its interface if it is going to publish this much content. The interface is just terrible. I sometimes see an article that looks interesting but don't have time to read it that day. With all the new content, much of which I don't care about, the article I want to read gets pushed down the page and I never end up reading it. I just feel like I am missing good stuff b/c there is too much stuff I don't care about to wade through. In that sense 3 valuable articlas are worth more to me than the very same 3 articles plus 10 I don't care about, even though I'm getting "more." If there was a better layout or easier navigation to articles by specific authors, or filtering so I can just never even see articles written by certain authors (not going to be rude and call anyone out here), that would be tremendous. If I could have skipped this article outright I would not be here commenting on it, after all.
Just my honest thoughts. I don't know how the complaints here are being interpreted by BP staff, but I feel like they are being mischaracterized and dismissed too quickly by many commenters and thought it might help to share my views in a a little more detail.
I think the amount of vitriol aimed at this article in particular shows that there is more than just people like you who find this article to be irrelevant. Some of it was indisputably because of homophobia (there are several comments that explicitly describe the article as inappropriate because it is about gay sex), though its obviously not fair to paint a majority of the criticism as homophobic.
There is a cost to reading part of an article that you find to be irrelevant, boring, or whatever. But everyone has a different view of what is relevant/interesting (for me, I tend to skip the fantasy articles and some of the heavier statistical articles). Not to minimize the real cost of reading something you didn't want to read, but I think my point stands that the cost is much greater to others who would have wanted to read the article that would not be available had it not been published.
From an online dictionary, homophobe is defined as, "a person who fears or hates homosexuals and homosexuality."
One can object to reading about this type of material without fearing or hating homosexuals. There are plenty of people (most people, I would think, though you wouldn't know it by reading internet message boards) who are disapproving of or disgusted by heterosexual content and pornography who are not "heterophobes."
The use of the term homophobe in this context is extremely misplaced and irresponsible, and it's unfair to those of us object to this article.
They don't use logic to defend their position. They just insult people and try to put them on the defensive by giving them an unearned label that carries extreme negative connotations. You see this a lot on political talk shows, and it's so obvious when you look for it. Well, I won't play that game.
Well, obviously. I do wish you'd responded to what I wrote, rather than making this straw man argument. It would be irresponsible and unfair to accuse anyone who objected to the article as homophobic, but that doesn't seem to be what anyone did. It appears that you've chosen to be offended by something I didn't write. Oh well.
Would CRP argument be a "straw man" (personally I hate this phrase being thrown around almost as much as I hate the "I have been a subscriber for 10 years and am going to cancel my subscription" garbage) if he said "many" rather than "one"?
Read through the comments, the term homophobe appears at least 20 times, and in most cases it's somebody insisting that those of us who object to this article are homophobic. I certainly never said in my post that YOU were the one doing the name-calling, if you reread what I wrote.
I did think that there were a comment or two in this thread that I read to be homophobic, but not the vast majority. I think its fair to read the small minority of comments that focused on the offensiveness of an article on "gay sex" to be homophobic, but I certainly shouldn't have said "indisputably," and I agree that its an unfair conversation-stopper to try to paint people who didn't like the article as homophobic.
Anyway, I'm done posting and apologize again for the rudeness.
For those who disliked it ... there were plenty of disclaimers and you could tell what it was going to be about from sentence two. Why did you keep reading? Why did you comment?
Personally, I have no interest in many of the articles on this site (I maybe even start reading half), but I simply don't read them. If it became a trend, okay, I see simply complaining that you'd like more interesting content, but really, does anything think this is more than a one time thing?