One of the best parts of being a sports fan on Twitter is engaging in commentary with other fans during nationally televised live sporting events. A common theme among many sports fans is pointing out mistakes made by the game’s broadcasting announcers, or just plain dumb commentary. Frequent targets of Twitter wrath (err, humor!) include ESPN’s Joe Morgan (“Drink every time he mentions he’s a Hall of Famer!”), TBS’s Chip Caray (who could forget “Line drive base hit – and it’s caught!” during the Twins-Tigers 2009 tiebreaker for the division championship?), FOX’s Joe Buck and on and on. Last year during the NFL playoffs a few of us started tagging our tweets #announcerfail when we pointed out such broadcasting blunders. But, honestly, most of this is just for comedic value. Sure, we call for Joe Morgan’s head every time we watch Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN (just read @stuffmorgansays) but it’s really just for fun.
However, now there’s a new target of #announcerfail in town, and this time it’s not comedic. It’s serious.
During Wednesday night’s broadcast of the Nationals-Marlins game, Nationals “analyst” Rob Dibble pointed out two women talking to each other in the seats behind home plate, saying that they’d been talking throughout the game so there must be a sale going on, or they are there filming a Real Housewives episode. I don’t need to – or care to – get into the rest, but you get the idea: THERE’S NO TALKING IN BASEBALL! Girls don’t know baseball! They must be there because their husbands took them! Men, don’t bring your wives to the ballgame – they’re ruining the real experience! More of the meat of the story can be found in Julie DiCaro’s rant on the fabulous Chicago Cubs blog, A League of Her Own.
This “announcer fail” has led to much outrage among female sports bloggers, and Amanda at The OCD Chick has done a fabulous job of recapping many of the reactions among both bloggers and commenters, male and female. Dibble’s ignorance is not debatable and, at the least, he should be forced to apologize, so please contact his employer, Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, and flood them with your own rants and reactions.
As for myself, I’ve been a baseball fan as long as I can remember. I’ve passionately followed a MLB team, located in a market where I’ve never lived, since I was seven years old. I had to wait 21 years until I first saw the Cubs play at Wrigley Field. I see the Cubs every time they come to New York to play the Mets, try to get to Wrigley once a summer, and endure every single pitch and every single devastating loss. I follow every game not nationally televised on the pitch-by-pitch on MLB ‘s At Bat app on my iPhone, listening to WGN Radio’s Pat Hughes and Ron Santo via MLB’s GameDay Audio. I do not talk during games I attend about topics other than the game or the teams that are playing, even when the Cubs are on the verge of getting no-hit or losing by double digits. I played t-ball in elementary school, softball in middle school and again with a company team and the Prospect Park Women’s Softball League for four seasons. I know and care more about baseball than many of my male friends — and no, they’re not all gay. I’m, of course, offended when anyone on a national stage (no pun intended) disparages women in this archaic way. I have enough ignorance to deal with as a gay woman. I don’t need this.
But as Caryn at Metsgrrl points out, Dibble’s ignorance alienated 45% of MLB’s fan base, and leaves lasting scars upon the public perception of women who love sports:
I wonder if Rob Dibble knows how many times women get looked at funny for keeping score. I wonder if Rob Dibble wonders how hard it is for female fans to have to continually defend their love of baseball as being about the game, and not about cute guys in tight uniforms. I wonder if Rob Dibble thought about what any teenage girls who were watching the game… and heard that. He just gave fuel to the fire of every sexist clod out there who thinks that women are dumb and can’t understand baseball and can’t possibly be at the game because they want to be. No one ever looks at a man and thinks “he must be here with his girlfriend”. It is hard enough to have a conversation with a guy at a game who assumes you are there because you are with a guy.
Rob Dibble just made it harder.
As much as I can talk sports with the best of ’em, I still encounter men in the office who exclude me from sports conversation, or assume all I know about is the Cubs. So it’s not just upsetting to hear this drivel from Dribble – it’s infuriating.
If there was a lack of interest in the game from those behind the plate, it’s not a gender issue but a problem with most people who sit in these $300+ seats. More often than not, people who sit in these prime seats are not hardcore baseball fans who keep score and hang on every pitch. They are people who get corporate ticket packages or who know the owner of the team. Again, Caryn hits the nail on the head:
Listen, I hate looking at the fans behind home plate who are clearly there because someone got them the tickets. I hate the dorks who wave at the camera with their cellphone glued to one ear with a passion you cannot possibly understand because I (almost) never get to sit in those kinds of seats (when I did have that chance, I literally didn’t talk for three innings because I was so overwhelmed at being that close to the game). I am sure it is tiresome to watch the rich and lucky of either sex, especially in Washington DC, sit there and – to your view – ignore perfectly good baseball.
But it isn’t a male-female issue, and you made it into one.
If Caryn, Amanda, Julie and I attended a game together, I can guarantee you none of us would be talking about anything other than the game. Well, maybe if the Cubs were’t playing, Julie or I would make a crack about how some baserunner who got thrown out must have been to the Ryan Theriot School of Baserunning. Or we’d joke about bad defense being so “Cublike”. But our conversations would be about what we have in common and why we’re there – baseball. It’s not a gender problem and anyone who continues to traffic in such a stereotype is mired in ignorance. Ignorance among your average bleacher bum is one thing, but when it comes from the mouth of a baseball analyst for a major league team, it’s unacceptable.
UPDATE 8/15/10: Dibble offered his apologies for the incident and I posted my response here.