"Baseball Boyfriend" is a new app that enables members of CBS Sports' fantasy baseball league to "have a Baseball Boyfriend off to the side" for a mere $2.99. Sexist? Not according to the woman who dreamed this whole thing up.
Here's an explanation from the girly-doodle-bedecked site:
Pick your first BBBF at the beginning of the 2012 Baseball Season. Every time your boyfriend plays, you accumulate points based on his stats for the day. If he can't perform, dump him. Then pick up a new BBBF. The one with the most points at the end of the season wins. You can play with your friends in a league or against everyone else with the Baseball Boyfriend app...Even if your fantasy team isn't doing well, you can still get bragging rights for having the bestest BBBF ever.
The Internet has been freaking out about the app, which recently launched on CBS Sports as part of a new initiative that allows developers, pending a review process, to peddle their own apps to the site's registered fantasy sports players. (A CBS Sports spokesperson declined to comment, but acknowledged that "Baseball Boyfriend" was successfully reviewed.) The San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman called the app "A fantasy baseball game for girls who happen to live in the 1950s," and NBC Sports' Craig Calcaterra wrote that "the disparity between male and female fans is not because baseball is too hard for 'girls' to understand or two manly for them to enjoy... Women do not need to be treated like love-struck teenagers to be drawn in."
Agreed! But things got a little more confusing when I contacted the developer and found out that the creator of the site is a woman: 38-year-old Missy Wedig, a longtime baseball fan and a member of multiple fantasy sports leagues. "The game isn't meant to replace fantasy sports at all," Wedig told me. "In fact, you can't even play it unless you're already in a fantasy league." The app is based on a game she's jokingly played with female friends for years, Wedig said. They used pen and paper to rank their "BBBFs" until her husband, an Internet entrepreneur, created a website and developed an algorithm to support their rules. It's unfair that bloggers have "dumbed down" her site without bothering to contact her to find out her story, Wedig said, especially because "in order to win the game you actually need to know a lot about the players." Still, she finds the criticism intriguing: "Sexism definitely does exist, so, while I'm sad my idea prompted the discussion, I'm glad the conversation is happening."
Wedig also finds it frustrating that she's getting flack for finding baseball players attractive. (Her husband, for the record, told me that he "doesn't care who she fantasizes about on her own time.") "I think it's hard for people to think of women as sexual beings," she said. "Yet, I saw all these blog posts about how horrible my idea was right next to sports ads showcasing girls in string bikinis." I can see her point. Take the VICE blogger who wrote, "While [the site] appears to be marketed for girls, what with the handwriting and middle-school-esque hearts, the number of strange and downright confusing double-entendres make me wonder." Wonder what? Women aren't allowed to lust after men? While I was pondering this, Wedig asked me whether I had a BBBF — and I suddenly remembered the way my Bay Area friends and I mooned over certain members of the SF Giants when they won the World Series in 2010. We were avid game watchers, too, of course — but, truth be told, we spent plenty of time joking about whether Tim Linceum was single and trying to figure out which local bars he was most likely to stop by. I wouldn't sign up for "Baseball Boyfriend," and I can see why parents would be upset if their daughters did, but my conversation with Wedig made me think that the outcry over her app is more than a little over-the-top, especially since "Baseball Boyfriend" is geared toward women (and men, according to Wedig's husband) who are already sports fans.