Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Breaking the glass homeplate

Say what you will about communism, but they were always ahead of the western world in some ways. Such as women having a prominent role in, well, almost everything. And while Cuba is technically our enemy (someday I'll have to start a political blog), they have outdone the United States in the area of women in baseball:

On a field dominated by men, Yanet Moreno is the only woman to step onto the baseball diamond during Cuba's national championship.

As the only female umpire to call in the National Series -- Cuba's equivalent of the big leagues -- Moreno, 35, has set a historic precedent.
Depending on how you feel about baseball outside the states, the Cuban league is a major league. Maybe the equivalent of AA or AAA (anyone?), but it is a major league, and she is a woman calling a championship series.

In keeping with the communist tradition of the state picking careers for it's citizens, Moreno was chosen:

Moreno was encouraged to train as a professional umpire, and before she had even finished school she was called to the National Series. She refereed her first game in December 2006, right at the start of the four-month baseball season.
While working in a (supposed) man's world, Moreno manages to keep in touch with her feminine side:

Still, she has advice for women trying to succeed in a man's world: "Those of us who work with men, should never stop being feminine," she says.

"We have to keep painting our nails, fixing our hair, plucking our eyebrows, never stop being women."

True to her word, at a recent game, Moreno sported bright red fingernails and a neatly coiffed hairdo. Before each game, she sprays herself with perfume.

"It's a tradition of mine," she said as she geared up. "So when I sweat, I smell like perfume."
Between women umpires and women pitchers, the lines are becoming blurred. Some will be happy, some will be angry, and some just won't care. I've umpired for years, and the main thing is competence. Is she good? Can she handle the game? Does she know the rules?

I'll admit, as an old-fashioned kind of guy, I have mixed feelings about this. In some ways, I like it as the mans game, while softball is for girls. But I also know from my time in the Army, that there are a lot of women who outperform men in many ways.

So what's the answer? As usual, my opinion is - does it make the game better?

As of yet, no word on whether Pam Postema wants to defect.


Perry Barber said...

Thank you for shining a light in the pathetic paucity of women umpires in the United States, Ron. Other countries such as Cuba, Canada, and Australia have far outpaced America in the recruitment, training, and assigning of female officials.

As for your "mixed feelings" about our breaching the barricades, I have a feeling that your ambivalence would turn into admiration if you saw the evidence with your own eyes, as you did in the military, that we are as capable and durable as any of our male counterparts. Until baseball wakes up and allows us to demonstrate that in the pro arena where you and others can decide for yourselves, that evidence will be hard to come by. Until then, we keep umpiring where we can, high school, college, youth and adult leagues, for the love of the game and the hope that one day things really will be different.

Ron Rollins said...

Perry, thanks for stopping by. To clarify, if possible, I think my ambivilance is mostly the product of being a 45-year old white guy from a small farm town in the midwest. As in, there was a way we were brought up, and that's the way it should always be.

Fortuantely, I (hope) I've outgrown all that. Please take that as a dig at myself vs any conviction that women can't do the job. I've found otherwise in my life, and wouldn't object to working with a woman umpire at any time. In fact, I care much more about ability than gender. There's a lot less of one than the other.

Reading your website, I'm impressed. Steve Goodman. And Dennis Laccorrie (who will be here in Bournemouth this week). Good company.