There are a few tweets out there that ring truer than all others. They are fundamental truths laid bare. This one has stuck with me perhaps more than any other:
The thing about spending a lot of time online – not just on twitter, but really anywhere that features a rolling, roiling wave of news that updates (and never for the better) by the second – is that it warps your sense of reality. This is true not only in regards to the passage of time itself, but also in regards to the status quo. If you’re present for every discussion, every change, every step forward and everything steps back…well, it can be hard to retain perspective in the eye of a hurricane.
The same way that it can be easier for someone who sees you only once in a while to see a physical change than one who sees you every day, seeing a point of view so firmly from another era can recalibrate our senses to the current status.
Enter Carlton Fletcher, a man distinctly not of this era, and thus representative of the progress we’ve made.
You see, Fletcher penned a piece answering some questions absolutely no one asked for in the Albany Herald, entitled: Answers to ladies’ questions about baseball. An editor’s note from Fletcher himself, appended to the article after it made the rounds, made clear what the article itself could and does not: it is, in some way shape or form, an attempt at either satire or humor.
Fletcher’s repeated insistence on using “female” all throughout the article (except the title) was perhaps the most jarring aspect, and in his supplemental note, he clarifies that it was in fact “an attempt to poke fun at the care with which we refer to gender these days.” In a related story, SNL is looking into replacing Shane Gillis with Carlton Fletcher.
That he is using humor, and humor that only his regular readers would grasp, shows that there’s still a long way to go, surely. It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to understand what he was going for, and likewise it doesn’t take a MacArthur Genius to see that he failed, and his failure looked like a carbon copy of what someone with moldy, outdated opinions would have coughed up. Funny, that.
The use of female, the subject matter of the questions (either obvious, or something a newcomer of any gender might ask), and the smarm that pervades the piece was something that would have flown perhaps even five years ago. It isn’t that everything was like this in that era, but certainly this smug sentiment permeated enough of the culture that it was much less notable.
And that’s progress. It’s easy to view the presence of a piece like this — intentionally reinforcing negative and harmful stereotypes, or not — as evidence that so little has changed. I should note here that my vantage point in these matters is not nearly as clear-eyed as others. I do not receive the same number or frequency of slights and dismissive comments that others have and do. However, from my vantage point, the seemingly uniform response to this dreck was a pleasant change from what would previously have been silence or worse, defending it. That might not seem like much, and perhaps it just plain is not much, but it felt like an opportunity to step back, out of the eye of the hurricane, and appreciate that we have seen some progress, even if we’re not where we need to be.
And for that reason, bizarrely, perhaps undeservedly, that dumb article was the best thing in baseball this week.
More Good Stuff
- Mike Yazstremski debuted in Fenway and hit a homer. It was f******* awesome. He also played catch with his grandfather Carl. He didn’t have a catch. He played catch.
- Taylor Trammell, the most notable prospect traded at the deadline propelled his new minor league team to a championship via a grand slam in the Top of the ninth. There’s a lot of risk in the profile, but Trammell is one of the easiest prospects to root for, and has a ton of attitude, in the best way possible.
- Look, if you think I’m not going to include BP video of Jo Adell balling out in Best Thing in Baseball, you clearly don’t know me yet.
- Andrelton Simmons. That’s it, that’s the blurb.
- Eugenio Suarez, yes that Eugenio Suarez, set the single-season record for home runs by a Venezuelan and the entire Reds team sang Venezuela’s national anthem.
- Mothers and sons and baseball is a weak spot for me. CC Sabathia’s watching him walk off the mound was too much for me.
Thank you for reading
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