Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was understandably upset after his team lost a game under difficult circumstances, as Jose Bautista was punished for an illegal slide on a play that would have put Toronto ahead in the ninth inning.
There were a confluence of factors at play. The rule Bautista was called on is new for this season, and therefore still unfamiliar for the players and coaches on the field, and to add to the confusion it wasn't confirmed that he'd erred until after a video review. Even once the decision came down, the Blue Jays couldn't quite grasp exactly why that ruling was made.
Add it all up and you're going to get one ticked off manager. But what Gibbons said to sum up his frustration with what he believed to be another example of the game getting soft was decidedly not OK:
Gibbons tells reporters: "Maybe we'll come out and wear dresses tomorrow. Maybe that's what everybody's looking for."— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) April 6, 2016
It was a comment made in jest, Gibbons confirmed as much Wednesday morning, but herein lies the issue at hand. Men, for the most part, do not wear dresses. The intimation on Gibbons' part is that women, the gender primarily associated with wearing dresses, are something less than men.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the only example of this kind of casual sexism in baseball on Tuesday. Over in Kansas City The Guess Who's "American Woman" blared from Kauffman Stadium's speakers as Noah Syndergaard took the mound for the Mets. Get it? Because he has long hair, and that's a feminine trait, and that makes him vulnerable and weak.
What Gibbons said or the song the Royals played are not overly serious offenses. Neither needs to be chastised or cast as sexist or misogynistic. What we can do to instigate change from these events is to have a reasoned conversation explaining why those words, at their core, are unacceptable.
Women are as passionate about baseball and as important to its future as men. If that's true in baseball, then it's sure as heck true in the world at large. To imply anything less is cheap and demeaning.
In baseball in particular, women have made noteworthy advances in the past year: softball star Jessica Mendoza is now an analyst on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcast; the Seattle Mariners hired Amanda Hopkins as a scout, making her the first woman to be a full-time major-league scout in 60 years; the Oakland Athletics added Justine Siegel to their coaching staff for their Instructional League club.
There are other ways to express our displeasure, overtly or not, without discrediting women. It's about time we all did better in that regard.
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