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White Sox Tue May 06 2008
After losing four in a row to the Toronto Blue Jays and six in a row overall, the White Sox would seem to need any motivation they can get to get back on the winning side. A pithy fight song. A recording of Knute Rockne’s greatest speeches. A visit by Dr. Wayne Dyer.
They chose blow-up dolls.
To be fair, it’s not certain that the entire team agreed on positioning inflatable sex toys in the visitor’s locker room at the Rogers Center in Toronto as the way to break out of their slump. Perhaps it was a lone coach or a second-level team exec. Either way, the story of the plastic air-filled “marital aids” with bats inserted in specific artificial orifices hit the papers and thus Inflategate was born.
Considering everything else that has gone wrong with the team in recent weeks, you’d think this would be just an unusual blip on the 2008 radar. Not if Carol Slezak has anything to do with it.
Slezak, sports columnist with the Sun-Times, took the appearance of two blow-up dolls in the White Sox locker room as an indication of rampant misogyny in the White Sox organization, from the top down. She even managed to throw in MLB commissioner Bud Selig for good measure.
In her column on Tuesday (feverishly promoted on the front page of the Sun-Times and positioned on page 5, usually reserved for, oh, I don't know... war?), Slezak labels the display of dolls and bats a “shrine” (the quote marks are hers though I didn’t see anyone else refer to it as such in any of the other stories I’ve read) and says it shows a lack of leadership on the part of the team and, by extension, Major League Baseball itself. “So how do you like your team now, Sox fans? Do you think the players respect women? I’m not so sure about that.” She concludes by saying the “shrine” (again, her term) said a mouthful about how the Sox organization views women.
(So which is it? Is she “not so sure” or does it say a “mouthful”?)
At any rate, while employing blow-up dolls as a motivational tool seems pointless and silly (and even moreso considering they lost Sunday AND Monday’s games), Slezak’s Bob Beamon-ish leap to blatant misogyny on the part of the team is equally as silly.
First off, it’s a blow-up doll, a piece of plastic and/or rubber. It in no way reflects anyone’s attitude toward women any more than smacking a piñata reflects a person’s attitude toward animal abuse or tossing out your daughter’s outgrown Baby Wet N’ Poo is representative of child abuse. If anything it reflects desperation. I mean, if you have to resort to artificial representations of women for motivation of any kind, you’re pretty much grabbing at straws.
Secondly, if you want to see real examples of disrespect to women, talk to Pacman Jones, who beat up a stripper; talk to the Cincinnati Bengals, whose infamous rap sheet includes a couple of players arrested for spousal abuse and one arrest for providing alcohol to underage females. Maybe talk to Rogers Clements and his alleged interest in 15-year-old country singers. To put blow-up dolls in the same category is, well, absurd.
And along those lines, is the 2006 hazing by the University of Mary Washington women’s basketball team, in which they had freshmen players blindfolded and shot whipped cream into their mouths sexist? Is the 2005 hazing by the women’s soccer team at Northwestern, in which members were stripped to their underwear, had their hands bound and were forced to kiss and give lap dances sexist?
If the White Sox annals were filled with tales of liasions with hookers, barroom gropings and spousal abuse, I’d say Slezak has a pretty good argument for an anti-female culture among the White Sox. But pointing to a sex toy and yelling “Fire!” is ridiculous, no matter how many times the Sun-Times articles referred to them as “female dolls”, as if plastic had a gender.
As a motivational tool, the White Sox’ use of sex toys falls flat. As a show of outrage, Slezak’s column falls even flatter.