The goal of this year's Women in Baseball panel? To not have to have one next year
Last Saturday, which happened to be Women in Baseball day, I had the distinction and pleasure of being included on the Women in Baseball panel for PitcherList’s inaugural four day online baseball conference, PitchCon.
PitchCon featured 65 analysts (including Jason Benetti, Jomboy, Pitching Ninja, Eno Sarris, and not to mention yours truly) talking about all things baseball. PitchCon truly had something for everyone. These four days certainly were a fantastic showcase of what the best and brightest in baseball had to say about the current state of the game, from 2020 fantasy advice, to creating an independent sports brand. I personally enjoyed Alex Fast’s presentation on pitcher success and batter aggressiveness in 0-0 counts, and my friend Michael Ajeto’s Three Pitchers I Love The Most, where he discusses, well, just that.
(I’ll have you know I guessed two out of the three pitchers correctly; it flew right over my head that the third was Shane Bieber, who I briefly analyzed last season for a gamethread.)
Alongside me in the Women in Baseball panel were esteemed analysts Kate Preusser of Lookout Landing, Shelly Verougstraete of RotoGraphs, PitcherList, Over the Monster, Prospects 365, and Dynasty Guru, Ellen Adair of the podcast Take Me Into the Ballgame, and Sara Sanchez of Bleed Cubbie Blue. We had a quite a rousing conversation about the game we all love — and the sometimes problematic things we encounter as women talking about baseball.
“Women can have eight out of 10 characteristics on a job application, and look at the job description and say, ‘I’m missing these two things.'” And it’s true. We can self-select ourselves out of things as Preusser brings up, or we carry this impostor syndrome where we feel that we don’t belong. In an industry that is full of, well, men, who may not always value our opinions, that’s valid.
We attempted to reconcile the notion that sometimes, the game we love doesn’t always love us back.
And we may be asked to write about certain issues, just because we’re women.
“You are a woman, so you, naturally would be interested in writing about a domestic abuser,” Adair said. But Adair is not offended by this assumption. “As much as it’s talked about, it’s not talked about enough.”
Sanchez mentioned writing about Addison Russell: “I knew I was the best person on staff to write about that particular story ... I volunteered for it, and I’m glad I did, and I’m proud of every word.” The emotional labor aspect comes into consideration: Sanchez mentioned watching press conferences that were sometimes hard to listen to. The emotional labor, alongside the labor of writing, needs to be taken into consideration by editors, as Preusser mentioned.
We then talked about how we can make the industry more accessible. And when it comes to writing, and scouting, too, it’s not unusual to be the only woman in the room. I mentioned that anyone can hire underrepresented groups like women and people of color, and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Well, that’s not enough. They need to feel encouraged and supported. Are you promoting their work? Are you making them feel valued?
While addressing the issues behind the lack of representation in our beloved game, the elephant in the room needed to be addressed — is having a Women in Baseball panel a form of pigeonholing? Sara mentioned that it’s necessary to have a Women in Baseball panel now. And with enough discussion and inclusion, down the road we’ll have a woman on every panel. That’s the goal.
To spark change, you can start anywhere. And for your voice to be heard, there are editors waiting to amplify what you have to say. Kate invites women, non-binary people, and people of color to slide into her DMs with any pitches. (I’m sure Brett is welcoming pitches, too.) “Please come find me. We’ll find a way for you to contribute.”
And finally, Verougstraete offered this piece of advice to anyone looking to contribute to the discussion: “If you are a woman, and you love baseball, and you feel compelled to write, just put it out there.”