The Cost of a Shirsey
By: Mary Craig
The first piece of baseball clothing I can recall owning was a Manny Ramirez shirsey. He was my favorite player because he was all the things I was not: carefree, lackadaisical, and effortlessly brilliant at baseball. But the shirsey was more than just a physical manifestation of my love for Manny; it was a way to prove that I was a baseball fan and therefore different from, and better than, the other girls I knew.
During these early years, nobody ever literally told me that girls couldn’t be baseball fans. Nobody had to. There was always, surrounding me, in the ether, this vague and indefensible understanding that I was different and somehow wrong, that I didn’t coalesce with the order of society. Yet if I wore that shirt enough times, I could hopefully, gradually become less wrong by acting more like a boy. I began asking for baseball shirts, first Pedro and then Ortiz, thinking that the more I physically demonstrated my fandom, the better off I would be.
This mentality carried with me throughout much of my secondary schooling. I acquired shirsey after shirsey until my closet shelf buckled under the weight of this internalized misogyny. But I kept going, slowly replacing every piece of my wardrobe with a quantifiable manifestation of my fandom, each shirt adding to my defense mechanism. Surely nobody could deny my fandom if I presented it to them daily. Nobody could accuse me of being like the vain, shallow girls who didn’t like baseball. These shirts became my self-worth; I did not appear to be a girly-girl and so I was automatically better than half of the population, even if few people recognized it as such.
I now know that fandom cannot and should not be measured, that there is no correct way to be a fan. I have made a large group of diverse friends who appreciate baseball in many ways and derive their self-worth from championing others’ fandom rather than critiquing it. But every time I open my closet, I am confronted by a pile of my old baseball shirts, which exist as a testament to both my poor choice in favorite players and the strength of the grip sexism had on me.
The Future Of Postseason Lineup Management
By: Matt Sussman
Before today’s managers treated starting pitchers like puppies during house training, 100 years ago this month New York Giants skipper John McGraw went with an even more extreme hook. In his World Series Game Five lineup he benched right fielder Dave Robertson, who was 7-for-14 to that point, to gain the platoon advantage against White Sox starter Reb Russell. But after the first three batters reached, White Sox manager Pants Rowland yanked Russell in favor of Eddie Cicotte.
Robertson ended up pinch-hitting in the top of the first for his backup before said backup had a chance to appear. The backup was Jim Thorpe. Yes, that Jim Thorpe, the football player/Olympic gold medalist/also baseball player. One game started, zero plate appearances. You could call it a reverse Moonlight Graham. A Solar Flare Fig Newton. A Sun Chip. A Nabisco borealis. I am out of jokes for this trope so I am moving on, but this is proof that no postseason manager is really doing anything groundbreaking by subbing out a pitcher in the first for another pitcher. It’s just they’re doing it a heck of a lot more. What they have not done since, however, is put a celebrity athlete on the postseason roster just for publicity, unless you count Dancing With The Stars, which you shouldn’t.
That otherwise extremely black-and-white video of the 1917 Giants has a still with Thorpe at the end: “Indian All-’round World Champ.” He had been a career .225 hitter at the time who won Olympic gold in the decathlon. He wasn’t even a pinch-runner. The Giants lost the World Series in six games that year and they deserved to.
At some point baseball teams will merge with other pro teams so that all towns’ sports clubs are under the umbrella of the same corporation, so that when a team is in the playoffs, LeBron James can be announced as a starter then pulled back against whoever they’re playing, which by then will be Cleveland. We will also have the designated hitter, so when we fawn over the pitchers batting, we are really going to love it when we have a non-baseball athlete taking the field. It will be highly GIFed. And 100 years after that, it won’t seem like a big deal, at least to our alien fish captors.