Baseball Boyfriend’s here, and there’s gonna be trouble
UPDATE: See my latest post for an interview with the creators of “Baseball Boyfriend,” who were kind enough to contact me and not order any pitches thrown at my head after reading the post below!
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Oh, thank god for Baseball Boyfriend!
It’s a long, dry slog through the media desert between the Winter Meetings and spring training, and my delicate lady-self was right on the verge of withering away—when Baseball Boyfriend galloped to my rescue like a strapping knight on a steed! If you’ve been busy bidding on Jose Reyes’s dreadlocks or trying to keep track of all the clubs denying interest in Roy Oswalt, you may not know about “BBBF,” which is a new app designed to allow women to enjoy all the fun of fantasy baseball, except with hormones where the math would normally be. You don’t have to understand OPS to play Baseball Boyfriend—just OMG!
Naturally this has the internet in an uproar, and since the job of deconstructing everything that’s wrong here 1) has already been well covered by other, faster bloggers and 2) should be fairly obvious to anyone who’s ever so much as set down a drink on a copy of Ms. magazine, I’m going to take an uncharacteristically optimistic angle and present to you….
FIVE THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT “BASEBALL BOYFRIEND”
1) It’s refreshingly multi-cultural. The players featured on the home page are a mix of white, black, Latino, and Asian. So are the big leagues, of course, but keep in mind that until not so long ago, players of color were far less likely to be touted as sex symbols than white players.
2) It’s surprisingly sexually liberated. “If he can’t perform, dump him!” says the app’s how-to page. “The more leagues you play in, the more boys you can have!” The double entendres run hot and heavy (I find it hard, by the way, to believe that the app’s creators were unaware of the entry for “BBBF” on Urban Dictionary), and the women who play are clearly expected to be more vixenish than Victorian. In this fantasy world, women are in charge, one-night stands aren’t a stain on anyone’s character, and nobody wears a purity ring. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s all pretend. But it’s a nice, cheeky change from the puritanical mores that women’s sex lives, real or imagined, are supposed to cleave to.
3) Nowhere does it specify that it’s just for women. Sure, the hearts and doodles on the home page are code for “girly,” but the language itself is gender-neutral, and there’s remarkably little pink to be found. There’s something—something very small, but something nonetheless—to be said for a website that traffics in imaginary baseball romances without falling all over itself to reaffirm its heterosexuality.
4) It’s helping to take my mind off my Baseball Boyfriend, who dumped me precisely two months ago. YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST OF ME, ALBERT.
5) Everybody gets why it sucks. The backlash has been swift and unstinting—and not just from women (like Dianagram). Craig Calcaterra at HardballTalk dissed BBBF as “execrable for its crass sexism,” while Matthew Callan wrote this short but incredibly powerful piece on his disappointment with the concept. “Baseball Boyfriend” began trending on Twitter almost immediately, and not in a giddy way, and Googling the name turns up results that range, almost without exception, from the horrified to the head-shaking.
And that, friends, is fantastic. That so many women were intent on staking their claim to genuine baseball fandom; that so many men were reflexively angered by the notion that the women in their lives weren’t capable of appreciating the sport without the help of hearts and flowers; that so many people were prompted to articulate their indignation about the pervasive streak of sexism in sports, maybe for the first time—that’s fantastic.
So thanks, Baseball Boyfriend. You can stay till morning.