So about five minutes ago I was in the press box dining room as Fenway Park. A female employee of the Red Sox was sitting at a table, a few seats down from myself and some schlubby dude in a give-away-from-some-lame-event polo shirt. After a few bites, Schlubby turns to the woman and says, “That’s a nice outfit you’re wearingâ€”a different kind of style for you. Where’d you get the dress?”
The woman responded kindly (“Oh, thanks. But I’ve had the dress a while), but I have to believe she was thinking, “Great, another f—ing loser writer looking at my breasts and struggling for something to say.”
I bring this up in the wake of a sadly unsurprising TV moment, when Dick Vitaleâ€”being interviewed by ESPN’s Erin Andrews about his beloved Tampa Bay Raysâ€”said, “(Rays manager) Joe Maddon has done a great job. Not as great as you, though. I tell you one thing. All I know is this: If Bo Derek is a 10, you are 15.”
This is the sort of crap I’ve witnessed for more than 10 years in the business, and it continues to mortify me. Here’s Erin Andrews, a professional announcer who works hard, prepares and prepares and prepares, has covered some absolutely awful events in an effort to establish herselfâ€”being compared to Bo Derek. Does Vitale think Andrews is supposed to be flattered by this? Is she supposed to shed her professionalism and flutter, “Oh, Dickie. Oh, Dickie.” I still shudder at a moment I witnessed two years ago, when a former Expo outfielder named Warren Cromartie was doing some radio work with the Florida Marlins. “Cro” was in the press box when a young female reporter approached him for advice. As she walked away, “Cro” muttered to the nearby men, “Check out the ass on that stallion.”
In hindsight, I am disappointed in myself. My reply shouldn’t have been silence, but a loud, mighty, “DID YOU JUST SAY ‘CHECK OUT THE ASS ON THAT STALLION!?” I should have made him feel as pathetic and minimal as humanly possible.
Alas, I just kept on typing, thinking, “What a dumb-ass” while doing nary a thing.
Shame on me.
Even in the year 2008, sports writing remains something of an old boys club. Ninety percent of us have no social skills. We spill grease on our free 1993 World Series polos; we kissed a girl once (And it was on the cheek. Of a third cousin). We talk the talk when it comes to women and sex, because we’re embarrassed to admit we go back to the motel after the game and watch porn or cry over 2 am “Highway to Heaven” re-runs.
Women work their asses off to enter the field, and many are truly fantastic. But the crap they have to deal with … well, it’s just wrong. On myriad levels.