Back before the season started, Jessica Quiroli, baseball writer with a specialty in Minor League baseball, put out a call on Twitter for input from female baseball bloggers.
I answered that call and I never followed up on what she did with it until I saw her tweet this over the weekend.
I thought I'd share how I answered all of Quiroli's questions. You might be interested in how I started this blog and I go into it here.
- What are you early memories of really connecting with baseball, not just watching? Was there a moment you can recall where you really started learning the intricacies of the game?
Baseball was always a part of my childhood because my dad is a big fan. That is maybe the biggest cliche but it’s the truth. My mother once told me that she always thought baseball was dull until she started watching it with my dad because he would point out the little things to start looking for and it’s those little things that make baseball great.
I have memories of watching baseball as a little kid but my lasting, specific memories started in earnest during the ‘92 and ‘93 playoffs and World Series wins. Roberto Alomar’s homer off Dennis Eckersley in the ‘92 ALCS is iconic. (The image of Alomar dropping his bat and putting two arms in the air was the Bautista bat flip of its day.) There was a lot of novelty in ‘92 because it was the first World Series played outside of the US. The Canadian flag was flown upside down by the US Marine Honour Guard during the anthems being the most obvious indication of that. And, of course, Joe Carter hit his big homer in 1993 and that was just insane. Baseball became a big thing in Toronto and in Canada for a while after that. Kids started playing more baseball, which is notable in a hockey country.
I watched a lot of youth baseball as an older kid because my older brother played (he was a pitcher who was drafted in 1996) and my dad coached him. I will also admit that, as a 14 year old, I had a major crush on the centre fielder on my brother’s team, so a lot of the reason I would come out to watch wasn’t so much because I was passionate about baseball but rather because I enjoyed watching that dude run around and do stuff. (He had beautiful eyes, wore his socks high and ran like a gazelle. Be still my heart.) But I guess I could argue that most baseball fans are fans because they like watching baseball players run around and do stuff.
I wasn’t that interested in baseball again until after I was done university and I watched baseball with my dad, especially Sunday Night Baseball. My dad taught me about pitches and the intricacies of the game. A full blown interest was sparked. The Red Sox run in 2004 helped me discover the big online community surrounding baseball.
2. What connected you personally to baseball? On an emotional level?
As I mentioned before, my dad is a big influence on my love of baseball. A lot of time as a young adult watching baseball was to spend time with my dad. And, though I hate admitting this, the Red Sox run in 2004- the stories surrounding it, the history, the fanbase being energized, did connect with me emotionally. I hate admitting that because I really dislike the Red Sox and some of my blog work is actually focused on mocking their fans. 2004 didn’t make me a Red Sox fan, but it did make me take a closer look at the Blue Jays.
3.How did you first start to join a larger community of baseball fans? Message boards, at games, other forms of social media?
I don’t recall specifically how I found them, but I used to participate in online game chats at Battersbox.ca, which reminded me of hanging out at a bar and talking. This was 2005 or 2006, so before Facebook was widespread and before Twitter. I would also visit various sites that talked about baseball and discovered a whole new community of people passionate about the game. Deadspin, the original version under Will Leitch, and Fire Joe Morgan were two sites I remember frequenting.
I had participated in a year end guest post for one of the sites I would visit. And I used to comment on game recaps. I remember doing a detailed breakdown of the fight between Jays manager John Gibbons and Ted Lilly, one that began on the mound and continued in the clubhouse. Motivations, who said what, why Lilly might’ve been angry (ego meets pride) and why Gibbons followed him down into the clubhouse.
4. When you decided to begin blogging about baseball, what was your motivation? Your focus?
I would banter with people about baseball online and some suggested I just start blogging. So I did. My early focus was game recaps and observations, often pointing out what was weird or ridiculous within a game or with events surrounding the Blue Jays and their players. I remember the first thing that made me actually put a post together was the fact that closer B.J. Ryan, who had been shelved early in the season with what the Blue Jays called “a sore back”, ended up getting Tommy John. And GM J.P. Ricciardi said, “It’s not a lie if I know the truth.” I thought merited a bit of discussion.
My 10th season in, it’s still pretty much what I do, but I also like to examine and mock ridiculous fan bases. I also take apart interviews or articles I find interesting and to examine, mock or support. And sometimes I talk about social issues within sports culture. I’ve also started translating stories about baseball coming out of Quebec media. With Russell Martin (bilingual from Montreal) as a Blue Jay and a renewed interest in and nostalgia for pro baseball in Montreal, there are lot of stories in French that the English speaking Jays fans miss. The way baseball is called in French is a lot different than in English and I like to try to point these things out because I think it’s a unique part of baseball in Canada.
Mostly, the focus is making fun of stuff.
5. Were you around a lot of female fans before blogging and when you began, were there other female bloggers you knew and were friendly with?
I was not around a lot of female fans before blogging and I didn’t know any female bloggers before I started my blog in 2007. I’ve come to know quite a few female fans and bloggers since I started, but not any before.
6. Did you have a lot of support for the goals you had as a writer, both as a female fan and as a new blogger?
I had some support from the nascent Blue Jays blogging community circa 2006-2007, which was made up of writers all about my age and also all guys. I think we were all sort of sending feelers out into the wilderness to see who else was out there. I don’t think the support was because I was a female fan, but just because I was doing something a few others were doing and we all wanted to band together.
7. Have you run into aggressive male fans or readers that questioned your knowledge?
I laughed at this question. Not because it’s funny, but because I don’t know of a single woman in sports, either in mainstream media or blogging, that hasn’t had this happen. I don’t know what it is exactly about sports, but some men get really ugly. The worst was probably when, in 2008 or so, some guy said I should be raped and tortured because he disagreed with something I had written or an opinion I had. It wasn’t a comment on my site, but on another Jays blog. It was removed. I wasn’t particularly frightened but I did remember thinking, “Over an opinion about pitching? Really?”
A less violent approach but more often used insult is that I just want to sleep with players if I happen to defend a player or it’s the reason I’m interested in baseball in the first place. I tend to not use my real picture online message boards because strangers tend to use the way I look against me. That seems to be a universal thing for women online- whether they are conventionally attractive or not. I think male writers get questioned all the time, too, but it’s the way it happens and the words used that makes it different for women.
8. What kind of support do you have from other women in baseball? Have you received a lot of encouragement?
I’ve met a lot of interesting women in baseball, most of whom are very supportive. A lot of them appreciate my voice in the online Jays community, both because I’m a woman and because I have a different point of view they appreciate.
9. When you attend or watch games, are you thinking as a fan or writer?
My writing is my expression of my fandom.
10. If you’re thinking as a writer, what do you usually like to write about? Are you most interested in statistical pieces? Profiles? Game coverage? Opinion pieces on players or team issues?
I love people stories, so I tend to gravitate to profiles (even if I’m just writing about profiles, with my own observations mixed in.) I also do game coverage plus observations and opinion pieces. I appreciate the use of statistics, and do read some analysis of stats, but I wouldn’t ever do one. Other people understand them better and would write better pieces.
11. What do you think you contribute to the baseball blogosphere?
12. Are there female baseball bloggers/writers/reporters that you admire and why?
Alexis Brudnicki, who has become a friend, writes pretty tirelessly about baseball, particularly Canadian baseball, and doesn’t always get her due. Emma Span has a viewpoint, and a geriatric dog, I relate to quite a lot. She’s funny. And Stacey May Fowles doesn’t exclusively write about baseball, but when she does, I enjoy it. She emphasizes the rights of women as fans in a way I admire. Her unabashed love of Josh Donaldson is both necessary and appreciated.
13. Do you see an uptick of women in baseball blogging? Or do you feel like it’s mostly still a boy’s club?
It’s definitely still a boy’s club. There are more women in baseball blogging, but men still outnumber.
14. How have you changed in your fandom and grown as a blogger?
I’m less afraid now to promote my work. I still hate doing it, but I understand it’s part of the game. Everyone hustles one way or another.
15. What is the most important thing you’ve learned as a female baseball blogger? What is your advice to aspiring female baseball fans who want to do the same?
The most important thing I’ve learned is that my voice and my opinion is just as valid as any male bloggers’ opinion. Which is not to say everyone should agree with me, but my view shouldn’t be discounted simply because of my gender.
People (male and female) have asked about whether they start their own blog or try and join and write for another established site (including mine.) I always try to encourage women especially to branch out on their own and start their own thing. The Internet is a wide open platform and for women, especially, having your own corner of if it is more impressive and freeing than simply joining a site run by and directed by a bunch of guys. I’m not against participating in other projects with groups of writers, I just always encourage people to establish their own voice on their own terms first.
I have found my site all the more satisfying because I know whatever recognition or acknowledgement is from my own effort. My site might not be as well read or famous as some of the other Jays sites, but I also know I’m not on any coattails.
16. Finally, what is important in your opinion about women contributing to the baseball blogging community?
One’s opinion or viewpoint is informed by experience. And experience is informed by gender, as well as race, religion, sexuality, income, age and any other number of things. Limiting the diversity of voices means limiting the variety of stories. Do you want to read versions of the same story 75 times? I don’t.