SOME PEOPLE SAY

Don't skip this because you think it's about baseball. It is, but only for a moment. Then it gets interesting.

When I peruse the internet I bookmark pages that I intend to write about, and over the weekend I grabbed an ESPN story about a baseball player who went on a misogynist rant in an effort to belittle one of his opponents. Briefly, Boston Red Sox pitcher Vicente Padilla has been accused by a Yankee, Mark Teixeira, of intentionally hitting opponents with his pitches. Padilla responded as follows (condensed; emphasis mine):

"In this sport, as competitive ball players, we get pretty fired up," Padilla said, according to NESN.com. "So I think, maybe, (Teixeira) picked the wrong profession. I think he'd be better off playing a women's sport."

Padilla then implied that Teixeira had issues with Padilla and former teammate Frank Francisco because they were Latin. (snipped)

In his interview with Deportes, Padilla didn't back off his comments.

"We are all men here playing baseball," Padilla said. "We don't need no women playing baseball."

Padilla added, "He is always crying and complaining. If he has a base hit, he cries, if he doesn't, he cries. I just meant that not even women complain as much as him."

The reason I bookmarked this on Sunday had disappeared by the time I sat down to write about it on Monday evening. The third-to-last paragraph originally read, "In his interview with Deportes, Padilla didn’t back off his comments, which are demeaning to women athletes."

To prove that I am not imagining things, here are two screencaps of the original text, which no longer appears on the ESPN story. The first screencap is from Google, and the second is from a New York sports website that quoted the original ESPN text (click to embiggen):

This was worth writing about, in my opinion, because we are so used to the media playing its game of pretending that all arguments are equally valid that I was shocked to see a phrase as straightforward as, "which are demeaning to women athletes." I found it sad that a goddamn sports website could state that directly, whereas if this story was about politics we'd have CNN and the like telling us that "some people have claimed" that the comments were offensive or perhaps an attribution to an interest group ("according to Mary Smith of the National Organization of Women…") so that readers could more easily discount it. The news is so strongly geared toward not offending its target demographic – old people, white people, males, and old white males – that a reporter flat-out telling the reader the obvious truth ("Hey, this guy said some really sexist shit!") is unusual to us. For obvious reasons, that's pretty sad.

But then ESPN's story changed. Apparently someone got offended, or the editors panicked that the (overwhelmingly male) ESPN audience might get offended, at the relatively straightforward description of Padilla's comments. I mean, you don't have to be a Jezebel editor to see this as offensive. His argument is not complex: Teixeira is not tough. He whines, cries, and is a great big pussy. You know, like a woman!

American media outlets are so hypersensitive to accusations of "bias" that editorial policy now dictates, apparently, that even the most obvious judgment calls are too risky. Yes, the reader can detect the demeaning nature of Padilla's comments without being instructed to do so by the writer. My problem here is the motive and thought process behind editing the original text. Why did the editors feel it inappropriate to characterize sexist comments as sexist? Exactly whom did the editors fear offending by pointing out that calling a male athlete a woman to imply that he is a wimp is demeaning to women?

Both questions unfortunately have very obvious answers.

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35 Responses to “SOME PEOPLE SAY”

  1. Middle Seaman Says:

    The other day on the 11pm news on TV a global warming and and a no global warming guys were interviewed. Global warming is a fact except in Mussolini's GOP. You will not see a round vs flat earth guys on TV.

    The 'unbiased' theater is defensive thinking. If there two substantial camps, then fact go down the toilet. If our GOP will start to support flat earth, any day now, flat and round will automatically be on TV.

    In cases when a clear majority is on one side, e.g. let's go to war against Syria, anti-war guys will be on Charlie Rose only.

  2. Major Kong Says:

    When I think "tough" I usually think:

    Marines
    Special Forces
    Lumberjacks
    Iron workers
    Professional Boxers
    Big City Police
    People who wrestle alligators for a living

    I have to go pretty far down the list before I get to "Oh yeah, Major League Baseball players".

  3. Patrick Says:

    Minor tangent: "Padilla then implied that Teixeira had issues with Padilla and former teammate Frank Francisco because they were Latin. (snipped)"

    Fertile ground for ethnic politics here: Texeira may be "American" but Texeira is a Portuguese surname, which would also be "Latin." More importantly, given that ancestry, it's not bloody likely that he has a problem with them because they are "Latin."

  4. Name Says:

    It's pretty rich that an AL pitcher, who rarely has to go up to bat (never against the Yankees, so long as he's in Boston) to face possible retaliation, has the gall to run his mouth about other players not meeting his standards for manliness.

  5. chris Says:

    ot1h, I side with Nolan Ryan here, half the plate is Padilla's, and if you're scared to stand in there, don't play. Also, I feel that for most of us brutes who grew up in the 20th century, it's still pretty habitual to demean men by referring to them as women or womanly. I'm not saying it's great but I could certainly forgive a dumb jock for saying something like that off the cuff. Otoh, the fact that ESPN is still too chicken to let their writers point out that there are a number of women, that they cover every day, who could snap Vicente like a twig… that's, well, pussy!

  6. Fiddlin' Bill Says:

    The gap in American culture between the accepted ground of male perspective domination, and the actual truth of feminist observations about this ground of chauvinism, continues to widen as we move farther and farther away from the moment when the Equal Rights Amendment was judged defeated by its failure to win ratification in the States. You have merely spotted one evidence of this widening fissure.

  7. Elle Says:

    Sport is definitely one of the spaces in which gender essentialism flourishes, and in which vicious gender policing is considered a helpful motivational tool.

    "You make spreadsheets like a girl" is a meaningless, weird construction, but everyone understands what "You throw/catch/run like a girl" means.

    Sporting culture is so profoundly, unreflectively sexist that a part of me is surprised that any version of that ESPN piece called out Padilla's comments for what they were.

  8. c u n d gulag Says:

    I hate the DH rule – and I'm a Yankee and American League fan.

    Back before the DH, there were plenty of "headhunters." Some of the best pitchers of their era's were known to 'give a batter a close shave" – hence, the nickname for Sal "The Barber" Maglia.
    Hall of Famer's, Bob Gibson, one of the all-time greats, and Don Drysdale, a near great, were known to back hitters off sometime by throwing near their heads – but not usually at them.
    The real monsters, usually the non-greats, sometimes threw at their heads – some even threw behind batters heads, so that when a batter saw the pitch was near his head, he'd back into it. Padilla's one of these @$$holes.

    Btw – Two batters in baseball history have been killed that way – "Doc" Powers in 1909, and Ray Chapman in 1920. And countless others, after being hit in the head, were never the same players – an example of a potential HOF career player who was never the same was Tony Conigliaro.

    Back in those days, plenty of American League pitchers were also known to throw at batters. The difference was, all of those guys, National and American League pitchers, knew that eventually, they would have to take their turn at bat, and may face retaliation.

    But since the DH came into the American League in 1973, their pitchers never have to get in the batters box, so there is no reprisal against the "headhunters." Some other poor schmuck on the headhunters team got thrown at instead. And that's probably why "Tex" can't stand Padilla – when they were teammates, as one of that teams best hitters, after Padilla plunked somebody, Tex was the one who got the reprisal

    So, in fact, it anyone's a coward here, it's Padilla.

    He can stand on the mound and fire the ball anywhere he wants, including directly at batters and their heads – and he never has to face any retribution when it's his turn with a bat. Someone else on his team has to 'take one' for him.

    Oh, and the last time Tex faced Padilla, he hit a HR off of him.
    Revenge is a dish best served over the fence. Or, a screaming line drive through the offending pitchers legs, so that his testicles recede into his earlobes from fear.

    Also too – this same thing happens in the political realm:
    Conservatives "feminize" Democratic men all of the time. Edmund Muskie, the Democrat Nixon feared the most in 1972, was accused of crying at a speech – and all hell broke loose.
    Jimmy Carter was a "Mama's boy."
    And remember Gore and his 'earth tones," and Edwards' hair, and now – Obambi?
    And John Kerry and Barack Obama were also said to throw like girls when they handled the ceremony of throwing out the first pitch at a ballgame, and didn't look great doing it. "Why, manly-man W, threw a perfect strike at Yankee Stadium after 9/11."
    It might have been stuff like this that made Dukakis don a Tank Commanders outfit and look like a fool.

    And the Conservatives "butch-up" or "d*ke" Democratic women: think Eleanor Roosevelt and Hillary Clinton. More recently, Elena Kagan and now, Elizabeth Warren

    They're more subtle sexists than that misogynistic @$$hole, Padilla.

    But they're trying to do the same thing – degrade the opposition in the eyes of the fans.

    Too bad only a few of the Democrats who were feminized, or "Manized," hit a home run as revenge.
    I think this sh*t works better in politics better than in sports.

    Maybe because when Democrats, even when they have a chance to throw at the pitcher who threw at them, almost never do so.
    'It's unseemly.' Or something…

    And so, the Republicans keep throwing at Democrats heads knowing their heads are safe.
    And the press crows about the manliness of the R's, their swagger and strutting – and then gladly reports the memes about Democratic men throwing like girls, worrying about their hair, crying, etc.,; while making sly accusation of women Democrats – Elena Kagan player softball. "SOFTBALL" – get it? Wink, wink, say no more, say no more."

    Maybe someday this sh*t will stop. I just don't think it'll be anytime soon.

  9. anotherbozo Says:

    "…which is demeaning to women."

    Sad to have that deleted. I wonder how many times the following phrases have be deleted by editors covering political candidates:

    "…which is an obvious lie."

    "…which grossly distorts and simplifies his opponent's position."

    "…a phrase designed to mislead voters into thinking that…"

    God, I'm old enough to remember how PBS was once thought to be the nation's great educational tool, poised to transform the electorate. So far have my (our) expectations fallen that anything beyond straight dictation is controversial. No, not even allowed to be controversial, is deleted from the getgo.

  10. Bentpine Says:

    Whatever.
    I'd love to meet Padilla.
    Playing Field Hockey.

  11. Major Kong Says:

    @cundalag

    And yet John Boehner has openly cried on multiple occasions. Just image what the GOP message machine would do to a Democrat that did that.

    Somehow Republicans automatically get a pass on being "tough".

    Or, as Bill Maher said about John Kerry:

    "How many times do you have to get shot while running across a rice paddy to be tougher than the cheerleader from Andover?"

  12. acer Says:

    When it's all about the green, a reverence for objectivity gives way to a struggle for the appearance of objectivity.

  13. acer Says:

    Considering the progress we've made in doling out "What the fuck is wrong with you?"s to gay-bashers and racists, I wonder if we'll eventually be less blase about misogyny. Is that part of this whole Singularity thing?

  14. Chicagojon Says:

    Nice catch on the reporting change. I wonder if ESPN will let this slide or if they'll mention the retraction and comment on it.

    Obviously all of these jackasses need to watch Tony Porter's TED talk "A call to men": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td1PbsV6B80

    "I can remember speaking to a 12-year old boy, a football player, and I asked him I said 'how would you feel if in front of all the players your coach told you you were playing like a girl?'. Now I expected him to say I'd be sad, I'd be mad, something like that but no – the boy said to me 'it would destroy me' and I said to myself, God, if it would destroy him to be called a girl what are we then teaching him about girls?"

    Oh, and roughly 10% of all MLB players are gay in case Padialla wants to question his opponents sexuality in that way.

  15. Xynzee Says:

    When I think baseball player I think over-paid tootsie-pops.
    They have these scrawny legs with fat bulbous torsos.

    Misogyny and sports… Given that sports are just a substitute for war, what do you expect?

    I agree w CU's analysis—great segue btw—on the DH, what a cop out. Though they're at the bottom of the order, at least bowlers in cricket have to bat for themselves.

    @bozo: we can dream…

  16. mel in oregon Says:

    i like the nba, nfl, boxing, mma, extreme sports, soccer & most sports in the olympics. don't much care for baseball, tennis & especially golf. can't stand mj, tiger or warren sapp. never read sports commentary by responders since they almost always are pampered, conservative know very littles. everyone's got an opinion, so thought i'd give mine.

  17. Elle Says:

    Misogyny and sports… Given that sports are just a substitute for war, what do you expect?

    I'm not sure that institutional misogyny works out that well for the armed forces, actually.

  18. c u n d gulag Says:

    Xynsee,
    Thanks.

    Sometime, even a blind squirrel…

  19. T.W. Says:

    I had this discussion with a Canadian about the shortcomings of journalism, and received an interesting take. Perhaps the problem here is that you *need* ESPN to point out that something was offensive and sexist. What you should *really* have a problem with is the lack of media literacy from the reader.

    Does anyone agree with this?

  20. bb in GA Says:

    @mel

    "don't much care for baseball, tennis & especially golf. can't stand mj, tiger or warren sapp."

    Don't play golf – it's too expensive and takes too much time. A lot of y'all don't like golf because it is a fav of older (often Southern) white guys (who are generally hated around here)

    http://www.forbescustom.com/GolfPgs/GolfCharityP1.html

    But, please note…

    "All of this [charitable giving] dates back to 1938, when officials involved with the Palm Beach Invitational donated $10,000 to local charities. Not only was this a staggering sum for the time, but it was largely unprecedented in professional sports.

    In the years since, other sports have followed the PGA TOUR’s lead, but no other sports organization can come even close to the TOUR’s commitment.

    Coming into 2008, the TOUR and its tournaments — along with the Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour — has raised and contributed over $1.2 billion to some 2,000 local and national charitable organizations.

    It’s important to note that not only do these Tours provide generous charitable funding, but so too do individual players and the approximately 80,000 volunteers who make the tournaments possible."

    I suspect the lawn pea swackers are prolly way ahead of most of the other sports…

    //bb

  21. Elle Says:

    I suspect the lawn pea swackers are prolly way ahead of most of the other sports…

    Although with somewhat antediluvian views about female participation.

  22. bb in GA Says:

    @elle

    There is an LPGA for a reason. Traditionally it would have been the anti-woman argument, today It is the same reason that there are no longer very many white guys in the NBA. There just is no White Man's BA (maybe European basketball?) to try to join.

    //bb

  23. Elle Says:

    I'm not sure how refusing to allow women full membership of individual golf clubs has any connection with men's basketball? Are white men not allowed to join basketball clubs?

  24. Major Kong Says:

    As far as I can tell, the main point of golf is to brag to your friends about which course you got to play at.

  25. Elle Says:

    As far as I can tell, the main point of golf is to brag to your friends about which course you got to play at.

    And with whom.

  26. bb in GA Says:

    @elle

    You were a little vague w/ that "female participation" line. I took it a little more general than you meant it. If you mean Augusta… Maybe so.

    If we are talking the general participation – women don't make the cut just like honkies in US pro basketball.

    //bb

  27. karma fubar Says:

    @anotherbozo – some of us were transformed

  28. Elle Says:

    If you mean Augusta… Maybe so.

    It's not just Augusta. Around the world golf clubs have been particularly resistant to the idea that women should be accepted into full membership. There are courses upon courses that used to debar women from weekend play.

    If we are talking the general participation – women don't make the cut just like honkies in US pro basketball.

    I think the specifics of your analogy are over my head, as you could not hit upon a lesser authority on US pro basketball if you threw a rock in a French convent, but I sincerely doubt that the mechanisms or effects of insitutional sexism are anything like 'racism hurts white people too'.

  29. Major Kong Says:

    Honkie???????

    I'm pretty sure that term went out of fashion around the same time as disco and polyester.

  30. bb in GA Says:

    @major kong

    Sorry major…I was trapped in an old fart time warp…I promise to put my leisure suits up on ebay next week

    @elle

    I'm sorry for the cultural disconnect. I will try to be less parochial in the future. My comparison has nothing to do w/ 'racism hurts honk..er White people too'

    It is about performance and merit in professional golf and basketball. Women cannot compete on the same level at this highest level of the sport in the same way that White men can no longer (w/ a few exceptions) compete at the highest level in pro basketball.

    Nothing to do w/ racism, for a change…

    //bb

  31. Elle Says:

    Women cannot compete on the same level at this highest level of the sport

    In terms of many sports, I truly don't think we know what women can do. (With regard to golf, this probably goes for most people, who don't have the resources to enable them to work out if they're good at it or not.)

    I look at Chrissie Wellington, who is absolutely competing with the men, over an event (Iron Man [sic]), which is immensely physically punishing, and wonder what women and girls could do if we didn't grow up in a society that tells us, in a thousand different ways, that we are constitutionally and temperamentally unsuited to sporting excellence. Exceptions, of course, for sports that involve thinness and grace/hotness, like gymnastics, figure-skating, and being Anna Kournikova.

  32. bb in GA Says:

    @elle

    you are no doubt correct in general.

    However, I was being specific about golf. Look at the scores in the LPGA and the yardage on their shots. They use the same golf balls and the same courses. Women do not compete w/ men at the highest levels of the sport. Maybe it's possible, but they don't now.

    //bb

  33. Bernard Says:

    I guess being racist, misogynist or homophobic is "not so bad" when you donate money to them. Kind of lessens the "hate" directed at them, if you give money to them and their "cause." lol

    kind of legitimizes their "separateness" and their "integrity" when they donate to those "less" forturnate ones.

    do love the thought, though. being one up and knowing it, excuses all the "being better" than kind of thinking/actions associated with it.

    Buy your way to respectability and superiority.

    love it!!!