Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Jacoby Ellsbury and the Pink Hats

Jacoby on Thursday in Fort Myers courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

Tom Brady is a very good quarterback. Can we all agree on this? I mean, if you’re a football fan you know this and if you aren’t you can Google his stats quickly enough and decide that, yes, he’s good at what he does.

It is also fairly obvious that, like him or hate him, he’s an attractive man.  He just is.  And because of these two things, because he’s attractive and because he is good at his job, both men and women seem to be fond of him.  Not all men and women, but a good lot of them.  We can all agree on this, yes?

(Stay with me, I promise this is baseball-related!)

I have never, in the entire time Tom Brady has been with the New England Patriots, read where people assumed the only fans who like him are women or people who don’t know anything about football but just latch on to the most popular player.  Never.  As a matter of fact, I have actually read criticism of people who claim to not like him because of the lifestyle he leads.  Articles and blog entries abound at how we shouldn’t let Brady’s off the field persona cloud our judgment of him as a football player because of how good a player he is.  There are also the ridiculous amount of articles and blog entries dedicated to his looks (almost always about his hair) as if we should genuinely care about how Tom Brady looks.

So I ask this:  If it is understood that Tom Brady is a handsome man who does his job well…not only understood but his looks are often mentioned as another reason Mr. Brady is so great…if this is acceptable by the sports media both mainstream and in the blogosphere, then why do so many people have a problem with the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury happens to be a fine looking man?

It seems to be a foregone conclusion to many professional writers as well as bloggers that if you proclaim that you are a Jacoby Ellsbury fan you are a (wait for it) “Pink Hat” fan and completely ignorant of the game.  Hell, the Boston Globe pays Peter Abraham to call people “pink hats”. In regard to his blog entry about Jacoby creating a Twitter account, Abraham remarked:

This could be the biggest news for Pink Hats since the invention of the pink hat.

First I need to say that if they ever track down the creator of the phrase “pink hat fan”, I will find the person responsible for it and spit right in his or her eye.  Secondly, Peter Abraham, though extremely thin-skinned when it comes to anyone daring to criticize him, is a good writer.  That he reverts to using a term most likely coined by some rabid WEEI listener is just sad.  He can do better.  Anytime I read someone using that phrase and it isn’t surrounded by a criticism of it, I get a good idea of exactly what that person must think of women fans.  When I read a woman fan using it, I just hang my head.  No matter how many people defend it as being all-encompassing of fair weather fans who know little about the game, that is bull to me.  The only fans you see at the park, for the most part, wearing pink hats are women.    They don’t call them “alternate color wearing fans” and you never read insults about fans who show up at the games in camo caps or other non-team colored apparel.  This is about women, plain and simple.

It’s especially obvious that it is about women when the term gets thrown around as liberally as it does when talking about fans of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Now, let’s get back to my mentioning Tom Brady.  I don’t mean to imply that Jacoby Ellsbury will end up being as good at baseball as Tom Brady is at football.  I’m showing the double standard.  Because if Jacoby was as good as Tom there wouldn’t be the stigma of being a fan of his.  Johnny Damon was, in his time, considered a good-looking guy…especially when he was in Boston and pre-caveman days.  I sat at a bar one night where grown men shouted “Johnny Damon I love you!” to him as he was there hanging with some other players.  It was okay for all of us to like Johnny because not only was he handsome but he was good.  (Also, this isn’t to say Jacoby isn’t or won’t be good.  Personally, I like watching the kid play and think he has a lot to offer, has given the team a lot and will continue to do so as long as  no one is out there trying to break his ribs.)

I rarely say this because it’s rarely true, but I’m convinced the vitriol thrown at the fans of Jacoby Ellsbury is based on pure jealousy.  I have no doubt that even if Jacoby hit .100 all season, never stole a base and committed error after error in the field, that he would have a large following of fans because, yes, the man is fine.  But, as I’ve stated about a million times since this blog began, finding someone attractive doesn’t equal being a bad fan.  It’s about time some men realized that.  It is perfectly acceptable to find a player attractive.  Men find the likes of Heidi Watney and Erin Andrews attractive and talk and write about it incessantly.  I’m sorry that, unless you’re a gay man, as a man you have no one to appreciate visually when you’re watching baseball and instead have to obsess on sideline reporters.  I’m not sorry that, as a heterosexual woman, I have plenty to visually appreciate.  But appreciating that Jacoby Ellsbury is most likely the best looking player in MLB today doesn’t take away from other parts of being a fan and I’d sick of people like Peter Abraham perpetuating that stereotype for a joke.

If a man tells me he’s a baseball fan, I don’t immediately start peppering him with questions so he can prove it to me.  Yet I’ve lost count of how many men, upon finding out I blog about the Red Sox, say something along the lines of “I bet Jacoby Ellsbury is your favorite player” with the implication being that he couldn’t be my favorite player because he plays well, that, if he is, it has to be because he’s handsome.  It’s unfair to me, it’s unfair to all women and it’s unfair to Jacoby.

But back to Peter Abraham.  After blogging about Jacoby’s Twitter account, he took to Twitter to complain that a fan commented that he was bashing Twitter with that blurb.  His response to that was a sarcastic “But I’m on Twitter” so I responded to him that the idea he was bashing Twitter was ridiculous when it was obvious he was bashing women fans of Jacoby’s.  Predictably, he never responded to me.

This blog has a decent following of both men and women.  Our live chats are fun and full of not only references to baseball but many other topics.  Folks are almost always respectful of one another…which is nice…and if they aren’t it quickly gets settled.  Aside from the period of time when I was on WEEI.com, it’s almost a baseball Utopia here because the women fans who visit know they won’t be dealing with men who have no respect for them as fans and the men know they’ll get some fun and intelligent baseball talk.  A very small part of this is due to my moderating the more offensive comments.  The larger reason for it is because, thankfully, this blog seems to attract people, both men and women, with a deep passion for the game and an appreciation for their fellow fans.   This pleases me more and more each day.

So what is the point of all my rambling this fine Saturday morning?  I’m not sure.  Maybe just to get this all off of my chest.  The season will quickly be upon us and I’m excited for that.  I’m not excited to reading about “Pink Hats” from the likes of Peter Abraham and because of that I feel it important to set the mood for the season.  I’m not suffering fools or insults thrown the way of women fans lightly this year.  You’ve all been warned.

It’s important to point out that Peter Abraham is certainly not the only mainstream sports writer to use the term (or to insult fans of Jacoby’s)…but he’s the latest and, in my mind, one of the more respected writers which is why I found it so bothersome – even if only in a “lowly” blog entry.  Have some respect but more importantly here, be professional.  Is that so difficult?

Also, for the record, head to Fenway Park on any given day and you will see many, many Jacoby Ellsbury t-shirts and jerseys being worn.  I’d be lying if I said the majority of them weren’t on women or children but I’d also be lying if I said that there were no men wearing them.  With each year he’s on the team, Ellsbury jerseys and shirts show up on more and more men.  He’s a good player, people like him and he’s a handsome guy.  He, nor his fans, should be embarrassed of any of these things.

(For those interested, Jacoby’s Twitter account is @JacobyEllsbury.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a handsome fella in his own right although Abraham doesn’t mention “Pink Hats” when referring to him, is also officially on Twitter @Jarrod_Salty39.)

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March 19, 2011 - Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , ,

12 Comments »

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I get so aggravated with idea that as a female fan you can only be legitimate if your favorite player is unattractive. I am sick of having to justify my fandom. I am down at spring training and was told that a Jacoby autograph was popular with women. Abraham’s blog post was beyond insulting. After he tweeted about Saltalamacchia I tweeted Abraham to asked if following him made me a pink hat. He responded that if I was a legit fan I could follow either without the categorization. He missed the point that very few men are asked to prove their legitimacy as fans but as woman we constantly are. Thank you for addressing it.

    Comment by Sarah Borland | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  2. Well said,Cyn. I do see small changes in the right direction regarding female sports fans. For example, MASN firing Rob Dibble. Overall,though,I think female sports fans will always have to deal with shades of the old school mentality that women don’t know anything about sports. I’ll take the small victories,enjoy being a fan and STILL ogle the hot players and not apologize for it.
    P.S. Pete is a tool!

    Comment by Becky | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  3. As far as I know, the pink hat term was coined in an article in the Herald on 2006. I remember a bunch of people emailing it to me, and that’s when I started to hear it used on talk radio. I couldn’t find the article on the Herald’s site anymore, but dug through the old emails and found it. Massarotti (I should have guessed) on 6/2/06.
    I did find a link to a myspace page of someone who quoted the whole article on their blog: http://www.myspace.com/nitestalker79/blog/128136982

    Comment by Kristen | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  4. Funny thing about that article is that I totally agreed with it. The analogy of going to church on Christmas to find someone in your usual pew when you’ve been there all year resonated with me. What gets me still to this day is the people who walk around dressed head-to-toe in Red Sox stuff (of any color) and are very loud about how big a fan they are, but it’s all for show. They get there late, don’t seem interested in anything that goes on in the game, and then leave early.

    I started using the “pink hat” term for any casual fan (not online so much, but definitely at home and in my office). I applied that to women who were more concerned with how they looked than whether the team won, and to men who cared more about the cute women in pink than whether the team won.

    I do think the way the term is used now has changed. It wasn’t until I started reading your opinions on the term that I started to see how it’s now come to be used about any female fan, and I’ve gone back to just saying “casual fan”. When I saw that Abraham line the other day, I was livid. Thanks for continuing to write about people’s attitudes toward female fans, as it’s one that really gets to me too!

    Comment by Kristen | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  5. I guess I don’t read enough of the usual to see it used that way. I can’t think of an article where it has. I did hear Merloni use it yesterday on eei, but it was in the newbie context.

    Comment by hayes | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  6. //unless you’re a gay man, as a man you have no one to appreciate visually when you’re watching baseball//
    You don’t have to be gay to appreciate good-looking men, ballplayers or not. And that’s not my 5% talking!

    Comment by Horshamscouse | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  7. Good for you! I’ll back you up.

    (Keeping my fingers crossed that we don’t break so many bones this year and especially not those of our own players.)

    Comment by Anita | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  8. I ♥ this post.

    Comment by Beth | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  9. I beg to differ on Abraham. He’s a decent writer, nothing special, and has spent his career trying to be funny and witty and basically trolling, while, as you said, being thin skinned. He was terrible when he use to blog about the Yankees, and his baseball knowledge is sketchy at best.

    Peter Abraham is a mediocre hack, and so this is what you get.

    Comment by ken | March 20, 2011 | Reply

  10. Heck, I’m a lesbian person and I think Jacoby Ellsbury is flat-out gorgeous. Also Darnell Macdonald. Sweetest eyes on the planet. Salty’s a handsome fella too. Tek’s a very fine-looking man. A beautiful warrior.

    I also think that lots and lots of men admire handsomeness in other men. They’re just intensely scared to admit it because homophobic b.s. comments are rained down on you if you’re a guy and you say anything that deviates from total macho foolishness. Real men don’t give a rat’s. They say what they think. Real women, too.

    Comment by Elaine Apthorp | March 21, 2011 | Reply

    • //Real men don’t give a rat’s. They say what they think. Real women, too//

      I like this a lot. 🙂

      And my apologies for leaving out the rest of the seeing world about Jacoby (and others) 🙂 – definitely didn’t mean to exclude anyone, especially John and Elaine! While he isn’t my “type” I find him to be matinée-idol attractive and am genuinely stunned when someone tells me they don’t agree.

      I agree fully regarding Darnell and Salty!

      Comment by Toeing the Rubber | March 21, 2011 | Reply

  11. I don’t think Ellsbury is that great-looking. Maybe he’s just not my type?

    Comment by JS | March 22, 2011 | Reply


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