MLB’s Identity Crisis & Female Fans

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 11.56.33 PMLast week began the most wonderful time of the year, for me at least… that is, baseball’s opening series. It may come as no surprise that I’m a sports fan, and many of you know I’m a huge baseball fan. So much that I can describe a dream job as working public relations for MLB, and even interned last year with the MLB Fan Cave.

The composition of MLB’s female fan base is complicated to say the least. In recent years it’s been reported that female MLB fans account for anywhere from 45-47% of all MLB fans, which has risen within the decade. What’s more is that this makes baseball the most gender-balanced sport (in terms of fans) of the top four professional sports. This is fantastic for MLB, apparently evidence of great inclusion and advancement for the female fan… except not.

Croptop + “IM A GREAT CATCH” = just no.

When I go to baseball games I can typically separate the real female fans from the female “sorta” fans (ie. my boyfriend/guy I’m dating brought me here, my Dad/brothers are fans etc). It’s simple, yet vain: look at what they’re wearing. If anything they’re wearing has Victoria’s Secret insignia, a VS, anything pink, bedazzled, or a shirt with something like “I ONLY KISS A’S FANS”, or “TAKE ME HOME GIANTS”, or “DESIGNATED KISSER”, then it’s safe to say you can vomit in your glove… and then assume they are the latter fan. Ever since Victoria Secret and MLB’s partnership in 2010, our eyes have been raped by offensive Victoria Secret apparel – the glitz, glam, and shitty quotes all prove one thing: a real poor attempt to reel in female fans. And puh-lease, do not give me this load of bullshit that women cannot find shirts, hats, jerseys that fit them well. Solution #1 buy kids sizes (they fit fine), solution #2 look into WOMENS sizing DUH, solution #3 stop making goddamn excuses for wearing VS PINK. As if MLB hadn’t learned it’s lesson – it’s currently in talks of creating a female marketed Hello Kitty / Sanrio line … just stop it.

Perhaps in another attempt to grow MLB’s fan base, the MLB Fan Cave announced a partnership with MTV this year through the MTV2 show, “Off The Bat”. Fantastic for MLB and MTV, but thus far, it’s not looking promising for the ladies.

I applied to be a part of the MLB Fan Cave this year, unknowing it would include the MTV counterpart. The morning after I’d sent in my application I heard immediately back from an MTV casting director who was interested in hearing more about me. After discussions (and getting my hopes up), it seemed that I would be a great fit because I was more girly fan (her words, not mine… because, who are we kidding here) with a sense of style which would be different. They liked my bubbly personality (again, her words, not mine) and the fact that I was young. Needless to say, I was inevitably not picked to be a CaveDweller this year (I should note that the only two female CaveDwellers are a SFGiants fan and a LA Dodgers fan… interesting).

Regardless, I was still excited as to what MLB had up their sleeve for this show. I was sorely disappointed when the first video rolled out featuring Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins hitting balls at a junkyard with GirlCode’s Melanie Iglesias. It made me feel weird. Like Stanton would have his way with Iglesias as soon as the cameras rolled off. A few points: No offense, but Iglesias looks like a glorified barbie doll turned MLB groupie… I’ve seen her on GirlCode, I don’t think she knows anything about baseball or the players. Also, her incessant giggling and screaming makes me really uncomfortable. Would a real chick baseball fan be screaming like that if their favorite player was hitting balls at cars? No. Also, I would absolutely wear THAT much makeup, and highwaisted shorts and take hours to do my hair to go to a junkyard… NOT. Iglesias takes the bat and says, “I’m going to pretend it’s my ex”… for fuckssake can we not? Even more cringeworthy is when it becomes her turn to hit balls and is given a PINK FUCKING BAT… JUST KILL ME NOW. She proceeds to whiff and swing like a girl. But not before she asks Stanton if he “gives this to every girl on the first date”. K. Bye.

“I hate to see the beautiful and awesome fandom from fans like these get funneled through some goddamn sex machine. Girl baseball fans don’t wear pink, they wear eye black. They don’t ask who a player is, they already know him, his numbers, and what he hits against a certain team. And they most certainly don’t stand around like some jersey shore doll going “oooooh” and “ahhhh” at a guy hitting baseballs into a junkyard. This has abso-fucking-lutely NOTHING to do with baseball. This is not only erasing the progress of equalizing fans and genders, but super charging the stereotype that all girls want from sports is hot muscles and really sexy t-shirts. We have seen a complete de-evolution of what the cave could have been. MLB has gloriously re-iterated that they want zero new ideas and would rather just stick with what works. Rappers, boobs, baseball, and marketing cop outs…If you’ll excuse me, I have to go watch the end of “Field of Dreams” on repeat and cry into my glove.”

-Jay Tuohey, @TheRoar_24

I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who was visibly uncomfortable and cringing from this. I’m hoping that the direction the MLB Fan Cave / MTV went with this is not a route MLB in general will take in terms of treating the female fan base. If a chick wants to wear VSPink to show her “pride” for her team, then that’s her perogative. But for MLB to alienate the actual female baseball fan in this way is just sad… especially when the number of female baseball fans is rapidly increasing while the male fanbase is declining. MLB already is having an identity crisis in general, and this certainly doesn’t help.



Add yours →

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This sums up all of my thoughts I have whenever I am at a game, which is nearly everyday during the season (I work for a minor league team and love every second of it). I’m glad I’m not alone on this. It certainly seems as if I am quite often

  2. I’m writing a research proposal for my master’s thesis right now about how the MLB is failing at marketing to women and creating brand loyalty, and it’s like you read my mind. I’d love to chat with you more about this!

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