- The Dugout
The Dugout, also known as "The Official Chat Room of Major League Baseball", is a
parody websitethat satirizes various elements of Major League Baseball. Presented in the style of AOL Instant Messengerchat logs, Dugout pages depict conversations between two or more MLB personalities, often commenting on topical events in the game, news events, or general character arcs. The series' distinct (and often blue) humor has made it a hit with the blogcommunity and younger fans, as well as more traditional baseball supporters.
The Dugout began as [http://progressiveboink.com/archive/jeterod.htm a column] posted in 2004 on the general humor site
Progressive Boink, written in the style of ESPNwriter Peter Gammons, that made fun of the debacle over whether Derek Jeteror the newly-acquired Alex Rodriguezwould play shortstopfor the New York Yankeesin the 2005 season. At the time, the chat parody was only a small part of the column, which spent most of its time displaying a The Sims-based situation where Jeter and Rodriguez were living together and possibly in a homosexual relationship.
Positive feedback from readers encouraged Progressive Boink to give The Dugout a regular place at the site, which they did starting in the winter of 2004. What started as a small section of the website quickly became one of its (if not the) biggest attractions, registering thousands of new hits daily. Three of the Progressive Boink staff writers (Nick Dallamora, Jon Bois, and Brandon Stroud) devoted most of their efforts to the new site, which was soon after shuffled to its own web address--"wordupthome.com", taking its name after one of the most popular characters,
Jim Thome's, screen name. Another staffer, Mike Westfall, designed the site and served as technical administrator.
As time went by, the site became its own, heavily self-referential culture and domain. Characters were developed, side stories would often be created in the offseason, and a growing number of players, managers or other baseball people would stop being "normal" and would be given defineable character traits or speaking styles, such as those listed below. A merchandise site was opened in 2006, offering Dugout fans to buy shirts with their favorite player's number and team colors on it, but instead of their real name on the back, it would have their Dugout "handle".
The ever-growing community surrounding The Dugout attracted interest from across the
blogosphere, and it would only be a matter of time before it would be brought to a wider stage. In March 2007, the first Dugout column appeared on AOL's FanHouseblog, about San Diego pitcher David Wellshaving to forsake beerdue to having type II diabetes. Dallamora, Bois and Stroud would later agree to move The Dugout from Progressive Boink to the highly popular FanHouse for a "sizable sum" of money; however, they would have to bowdlerizethe columns, deleting some of the humor that had become, in some minds, The Dugout's trademark. Several more chats appeared on the AOL-run site during spring training: however, for most of the 2007 season, all new Dugout columns appeared on "P-Boi". That changed on September 17, 2007, when [http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2007/09/17/the-dugout-jim-thome-has-one-heckuva-day/ the first regular-season Dugout] was posted to the FanHouse blog. The introduction could not have come at a better time: it dealt with Jim Thome's entry into the 500 home run club. As a farewell to their old site, The Dugout's editors presented a 19-part series entitled "The Awesome, The Stupid and the More Stupid", in which popular site characters Kyle Farnsworth, Bill Pecota, and the Young brothers Dmitri and Delmon fought to save baseball from the evil clutches of player agent Scott Borasand Royals owner David Glass.
The Dugout posts are presented in the style of a chat on AIM (except for chats involving the
Cleveland Indians, who use "Wahoo! Messenger), including hosts, moderators (of which there was only one, Mike Sweeneyof the Kansas City Royals), screen names and profile pictures. All profile pictures are player (or otherwise) headshots, and link to information about that player, person or thing. Sources of information include sites such as baseball-reference.comor ESPN.comfor players, IMDbfor films and television shows, or Wikipediafor older players or baseball executives. Screen names are often puns on the player's name, and often try to work in some reference to popular culture.
The site's humor, especially in the Progressive Boink days, would often tend towards adult topics including what some saw as racist, homophobic or otherwise offensive material, not to mention the liberal use of
profanity. However, an astute reader would be able to point out that the humor was not specifically offensive to any specific group, and that almost all characters on the site were broad parodies of their actual personalities.
Especially as the site began to become more of a community, some viewers said that its jokes had become almost incomprehensible to the new reader, who would often have to pore through the site's vast archives to understand a particular character trait. This complaint became even more noticeable after the move to The FanHouse, where some believed that its style would fall on deaf ears.
Depictions of players
As MLB's 30 teams have a combined total of over 700 players, plus a large number of personnel, it is only natural that The Dugout would focus and make characters out of players and executives. Below are a description of some of these characters and their traits:
*Jim Thome (screenname: "WordUpThome", a play on the phrase "word up, homie") is depicted as somewhat of a "loveable lummox", a big man with an equally big heart. His posts are in all capital letters, often feature malapropisms, and will occasionally be unfinished (such as the first words on the site's FAQ page, "HEY THIS IS JI" "JIM THOME").
*Volatile relief pitcher
Kyle Farnsworth("pr0FF3ss0r_F4rnsw0rth", referencing both Leetspeakand " Futurama" character Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth) is shown as stupid, egotistical and heavily vulgar: in fact, other characters on the site have referenced this trait, including his habit of referring to white players using racial slurs for other races. He only types in lower case, with frequent misspellings and use of chat speak. Farnsworth has been the subject of a large number of side stories, including when he goes to fight the god Triton when the Dugout "upgraded" to AIM Triton, and an Animal House-style attempt to watch the United States women's national softball teamsleepover with fellow Yankee reliever Scott Proctor("DoctorProctor"}, which got them both hurt but enabled Farnsworth to start an oft-troubled "relationship" with Cat Osterman("Gato").
*Former Royals utility infielder
Bill Pecota(" PECOTA", a nod to the sabermetric stat) is the "protector of baseball's innocence", a mystical character who rides a powerful motorcycle (the [http://www.royalschopper.com Royals Chopper] , which Pecota himself commissioned from Orange County Choppersin real life), attempting to bring his former club back to form. He normally is seen advising general managers Allard Bairdand Dayton Mooreor assisting players on the team: however, his schemes are often thwarted by David Glass, who is shown as an evil overlord who only wishes to profit. Pecota often speaks in a heroic cadence (such as the phrase "This will not stand" being written as "THIS! WILL NOT STAND!") and using flowery speech. The constant showing of the Royals is a product of Dugout writer Jon Bois, a Kansas City native and Royals fan. Another noted Royals gag involves pitcher Brandon Duckworth("duckworth"), who is always addressed with "QUACK, MR. DUCKWORTH! QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, MR. DUCKWORTH!" or some variation thereof, a reference to how Gordon Bombay ( Emilio Estevez) would reference his boss, Mr. Ducksworth, in the 1991 film " The Mighty Ducks".
LA Dodgersoutfielder Manny Ramírez("MannyBoutTown", formerly "MannyTheTorpedoes" with the Red Sox) was shown as a manchild, devoted to cartoons and candy. He often was seen playing with toys (even using second base as a Sit 'n Spin), playing "spies" with reliever Jonathan Papelbon("KingofPap") despite "not knowing what spies do", and speaking very childishly. Most of his posts ended with some pun on his popular phrase "Manny being Manny", an example of which being after he got a new video game system he said he was "manny wii'ng manny". When Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers he started acting arrogantly and using correct spelling and grammar, and started to resemble Hollywood Hulk Hogan
*The Young brothers, Dmitri ("SteakGrowsOnDmitri", or "The Meat Tree") and Delmon ("DudeYerGettinADelmon", a reference to an ad campaign for
Dellcomputers) are depicted as somewhat heavy hip-hopstereotypes, peppering their speech with expletives. They are also heavy users of marijuana, which got them into trouble during "The Awesome, The Stupid and The More Stupid".
*Alex Rodriguez ("e5_rod", formerly "homosexual_rod" before the move to The FanHouse) is shown as a
homosexual(as his old screen name is a play on the derogatory nickname "Gay-Rod"), and is often despondent about his relationship with Derek Jeter ("Jeters_Never_Prosper", "JeterJeterPumpkinEater"), who shows little interest in a deep relationship with his 3rd baseman. Like Thome, Rodriguez' speech is depicted in all caps and in a style reminiscent of a heavy Latina accent (Farnsworth once called him "a gay boricua"), but with a small quirk--when he would say his nickname of "A-Rod", it would often show up as "aRAH", as the caps lock feature on most keyboards means that the shift function is reversed.
St. Louis Cardinalsfirst baseman Albert Pujols("pujol_junkie") is shown as fairly normal--however, the writers preface many of his words with the letter "e", in a rough approximation of how the Dominican Republic-born Pujols talks. Despite this quirk (where phrases such as "will you pitch the ball" turn into "will you pitch e'ball", and "yes" is spelled as "e'yase"), Pujols is one of the more normal "stars" on The Dugout.
Florida Marlinspitcher Dontrelle Willis("MeTrain"), is, as his name would suggest, an egotist. His most famous quote--"ya trade the Train and ya trade the brain"--sums up his personality well: a man with a very high opinion of himself, who believes that all the Marlins' success is attributable to him and if he were to leave, the club would collapse without their biggest star.
Pete Rose("charlie_hustle") is always shown as a well-meaning but ultimately bumbling man. All of his chats end with a character saying "You have engaged in a variety of acts that have stained the game, and you now must live with the consequences of those acts", the closing statement from the John DowdReport that banned Rose for life from baseball. In order to add levity, he has in the past been placed in situations involving a hip-hop artist, a professional wrestler and the film " The Crying Game".
Ken Griffey, Jr.("elijah_price", referencing Samuel L. Jackson's character in the film Unbreakable) is always shown, like Jackson's character, as an injury-prone man. All of his chats end with him being injured during situations that would seem otherwise harmless. In previous chats, he has injured his finger while typing, been injured with a baseball traveling 0.45MPH, and fractured his tailbonewhile exiting a room (the door hit him on the way out).
As the site's popularity grew, the Dugout's writers have begun to use their style to parody other sources of popular entertainment. The first Dugout spinoff came in October 2007, when
The Village Voiceasked the site's editors to parody music via fictionalized chats. The resulting project, called [http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/archives/columns/ivoice/ iVoice] , featured musical artists of all stripes, such as Radioheaddiscussing their decision to sell their album " In Rainbows" for a variable price and Regina Spektorconsulting Soulja Boyas to why her records do not sell, despite similar lyrical quirks. One month later came [http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/jonbois/ a vintage series of chats] , which Bois produced due to his involvement in an Internet-based version of the Strat-o-Maticbaseball card game. Also that December came [http://deadspin.com/sports/football-guys/ Football Guys] , an NFL-based spinoff hosted on the highly popular sports blog Deadspin. Since beginning work on FanHouse, the Dugout writers have begun writing liveblogs of select baseball games under the banner of "Baseball Is Boring", and analyzing Wikipedia articles of players via "The Dugout's Wikipedia Report".
* [http://www.wordupthome.com The original Dugout site, with archives from the Progressive Boink era]
* [http://dugout.progressiveboink.com/playerindex.html Archived chats sorted by players' last names]
* [http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/category/the-dugout/ The Dugout on AOL]
* [https://www.spreadshirt.com/shop.php?sid=12923 The Dugout store]
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