Fansplaining: Inside Baseball

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Podcast Episode
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Episode Title: Fansplaining: Inside Baseball
Length: 1:07:28
Featured: Cecilia Tan
Date: April 20 2016
External Links: Episode at

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Fansplaining: Inside Baseball is a podcast by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel.

For others in the series, see Fansplaining.


"In Episode 20, “Inside Baseball,” Elizabeth and Flourish talk to Cecilia Tan, who took her partner to a Yankees game in 1999 and ended up with the first baseball fan blog online—and eventually, a professional baseball writing career. Cecilia talks about her many fannish hats, from her erotic romance press to Harry Potter fanfic to the Menudo newsletter she mailed to hundreds of fangirls to nearly fainting in the presence of Derek Jeter. Plus Elizabeth and Flourish grapple over whether it’s possible to culturally appropriate fandom."


Topics Discussed

  • Listener response to A Conversation with Clay Liford and outsiders to fandom writing or creating about it
  • Turning fannish loves into pro ventures, from baseball writing to erotica
  • Sports fandom
  • Baseball and creative anachronism, or fantasy baseball played by rolling dice
  • Public displays of fandom and normalization of fandom
  • Perceived divisions between fans and "pros" in society
  • The Menudo fanclub - newsletter and radio interviews
  • Caitlin Moran's Fic Stunt
  • Meeting people you're a fan of
  • Institutionalized sexism in sports fandom


CT: But I’m talking about, I’ve seen the photos from law firms and financial institutions and whatever where everyone, where like, they had Star Wars dress-up day or whatever, and you’re just like, “OK.” This is a mainstream enough thing now that it’s not like, only those complete weirdos would do it and you’ll never get a promotion if you act this way, or whatever. Whereas sports fans were expected to act that way in a lot of places and it was all right. It’s just interesting to me that I feel like there is a normalization going on of fandom stuff. It’s no longer seen—I mean every place is slightly different. My brother still works in an office where it’s like there are two colors of shirts allowed here, white and blue, and that’s it. So.

FK: But with baseball, do you ever have those moments where you were compelled to write fifty Harry/Draco fics or whatever they were all at once? Do you get that with—you’re a writer and you write baseball things, but do you have the same kind of compulsion to write?

CT: That was how I got started baseball writing, basically. I had fallen kind of out of baseball fandom, I was in it as a kid, you know, I grew up in the New York area so I was a big New York Yankees fan, and I moved to New England for college and it’s the Red Sox here and the ancient rivals and whatever, and I just kind of fell out of it and wasn’t that connected to it. Then in ’98 there was a big home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. And it was such big news that it was in Time magazine, it was on all the TV news whatnot. Non-baseball and non-sports outlets were covering it, and so I got interested again.

By 1999 I was like “OK,” said to my partner, “We’ve been together several years now but you’ve never been to Yankee Stadium; we need to go.” So we went and did a trip to New York where my parents at the time were still living in the area and we stayed with them and went to the Jersey shore and went to the stadium and he was a convert from the first game. Thank goodness, because after that we just went straight down a rabbit hole where I started a blog called Why I Like Baseball.

It was so long ago that this was before “blog” was a word. I started a website. I got an ISSN number because I started it as an online baseball magazine for which I was the only writer. [all laugh] Which is why I called it “Why I Like Baseball.”[1] Because you know, when you’re 10 and you write your essays about “what I did over the summer,” and I was just like “why I like baseball.” And I wrote an op-ed piece about baseball every day for months. I couldn’t stop myself. It was not paying work in any way; I hand-coded the HTML because that was the days before Wordpress and before any of that, before blogs! So it’s the oldest baseball blog on the internet, it’s still there...

...Now I update it very rarely because now that I actually have a professional interest in baseball writing, usually when I write something now it’s for a place like Baseball Prospectus or Fangraphs or whatever and then I’m so busy right now being a romance writer that, in fact, I don’t have much time to do baseball writing, and most of what I’m doing with baseball is editing, cause I’m editing the Baseball Research Journal. Half my income comes from baseball now, though, because I started this blog way back when and that led to—like all freelance gigs, you know, it leads to other things.

So that’s how I ended up writing this book on the Yankees and spending all this time with the press corps and whatever. Things lead to things lead to things. None of them had to know that I came to it from this, like, I’m just this super excited fan who started my own website. By the time I was credentialed press, none of the press members knew where the Hell I came from. They’re like “whatever.”

ELM: —I don’t like this the right way. Everyone else here I’m sure they like it, I’m sure they’re happy to be here, but I like it the other way, and that feels, that’s embarrassing, you know? This was like a revelation to me, and after that I was like, fuck it, I don’t care anymore. So that’s the question, is like—

CT: I feel like people always wanna make this big division between fans and pros. We see this all the time in science fiction where there are amateur writers, and then there’s professional writers. And I’m like, no no no. Every professional science fiction writer knows that they started out as an amateur writer and they worked their way up to being a professional writer. That it’s a continuum, and it’s like, OK, well, after you’ve sold that first short story, now you can join SFWA, but basically you’re still a fan but you haven't—it’s not like there’s one day where you wake up and you’ve transitioned from being a fan to being a pro.

CT: Everyone else “leaves fandom behind” because they’re told they have to and I’m like, “No you don’t. I’m sorry, you don’t have to leave it behind.” You have to comport yourself, you know, professionally. In the locker room you can’t ask for autographs, for example, and you can’t take selfies with the players. That kind of a thing. There’s a way that you act, and you learn how to act from the other people who are doing the job. It’s sociological training, really: what to wear, whatever, so you’re not breaking the mold, but at the same time you go home and write your blog or write your newsletter or whatever it is, it doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm for it, really.

(on Caitlin Moran's Fic Stunt and Breaking the Fourth Wall)

CT: Right. I feel like now, since that, I didn't—I definitely did not agree with her tactics there, and I think she did it to try to shock or embarrass, or stir things up, which was not cool. She essentially outed someone and humiliated them who was not—nonconsensually. It might have been something else if it was something she wrote herself, or if she had—

ELM: Probably would have been a different kind of shitty joke then, right?

CT: God, I know. Exactly. Gotten permission or something? Meanwhile, since then, though, you see a lot of different actors on different shows who are highly aware of what’s going on and who are clearly reading it themselves, some of whom are very happy to engage with it and some don’t, you know, in the same way as some people are happy to engage with the fact that queer people exist overall and some are not. [laughs] So I feel like slash overall is much more out of the closet now than it was. Fanfic overall is much more out of the closet than it was. But at the same time, it’s still not cool to out people against their will. And it’s a little different—I would not as a fangirl even today run up to Daniel Radcliffe and be like “Read this thing I wrote!” or whatever. [laughs]


  1. ^ Why I like Baseball, Archived version, accessed August 6 2021