When I stumbled upon Pinstripe Alley in mid-2009 I wasn't immediately comfortable with the idea of people knowing that I was a girl. I'd seen this play out before, where a group of guys writes off female sports fans for being ditzy attention-seekers who sport the Mrs. Jeter jerseys sold in various stores and carry "Marry me, Derek!" signs to the stadium. I'm not one of those fans and never have been, so that kind of behavior doesn't run in my DNA. I've been going to baseball games since I was three years old and doing it to try and get attention from guys never crossed my mind. Still, I was nervous for how I'd be received here. I came up with a gender-neutral username and posted just as if I was one of the guys. I don't think anyone knew the difference for at least a few months.
Eventually I felt comfortable enough with how people responded to me here to let them know that I was female. It wasn't a big deal, but I was still kind of nervous about how it would be received. By the fact that I am still here, you can imagine that not too many people cared. In the end I was a Yankee fan just like them. The end. As such, it means a lot to me to be able to create an environment here that isn't intimidating for a female baseball fan to jump into. I think we have done a lot to make that possible, but there is still room to improve.
Two things have sincerely bothered me since joining here as a female sports fan: scantily-clad rally girls and the general tone of female-bashing that some people tend to do instinctively. Rally girls are a thing of the past now, but the latter has been popping up more and more recently. "A-Rod's being a little girl!" "Gardner has a girly arm!" "More like Brittany Gardner, amirite?" It's done as a joke, of course, but it isn't a funny one. Pinning inferiority to being female just alienates those who had no choice. I can't swing a bat and hit the ball 450 feet. I'll never be able to do that. That doesn't mean that baseball failure needs to be made out to be inherently female, though. Weakness doesn't need to be attributed to not having been born a big, strong man.
Being a female infiltrating what can sometimes be seen as a dude's sports bar on the internet is not easy. Sometimes it feels like I'm interrupting guy's night. I can handle that, but it doesn't always go so smoothly. I've had guys here say that someone should physically hurt me because I defended myself against their claims that I'd never know baseball because I am female. Those people are trolls and should obviously be treated as such, but it doesn't mean that there isn't a sometimes very vocal group of people out there who make their opinion known that females are less fit to do this whole sports blogging thing because we don't know baseball like guys do. I've never played the game, of course, unless you count hours spent in the backyard with my right-handed dad trying to teach me to swing left-handed. I don't know what it's like to suit up and be on a team, but I think watching baseball as closely as I have for the vast majority of my 25 years has given me a little bit of insight. I think I can analyze baseball in a way that doesn't involve a power ranking of the best looking Yankees.
I can't throw a runner out at home from center field and I'd never be able to frame pitches behind the plate, but I can see that Masahiro Tanaka is pure brilliance on the mound and that Jacoby Ellsbury is a treat to watch in the outfield. I can appreciate Greg Bird nearly hitting for the home run cycle and Manny Banuelos making it as a tiny lefty, just like me. I don't need a guy to explain to me that touchdowns only occur in football and that three strikes means the batter is out. Even if it's only done as a means of flirting, I feel a little insulted that someone would assume I know nothing, or that I just bought this Tanaka shirsey because it went with the rest of my outfit.
The vast majority of the ones of you who will read this did not need me to tell you any of this. I appreciate you humoring me and letting me get it off my chest anyway. I hope that maybe, just maybe, those of you who think that people are being overly sensitive when a player is criticized in the game thread for having girly qualities will better understand the perspective from which that sensitivity comes. My childhood dream of playing shortstop for the Yankees was never destined to come true, but I do try to talk about the team I love and blog about them with the best of them. Thank you all for reading it and making this place one I am proud to be a part of.