As the limelight of this year’s World Series shines, the well-known animal rights group PETA has taken to social media to call upon MLB to discontinue using an “outdated” term. While those on social media who like to mock events like this had a field day with the request and the suggested replacement, some are keeping an open mind and listening to the reasoning behind PETA’s request. What is PETA’s idea, and why are they calling for change?
PETA asks MLB to change ‘bullpen’ to ‘arm barn’
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— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) October 28, 2021
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) used Game Two of this year’s World Series to request that MLB along with its fans and media members stop using the term “bullpen” to describe where relief pitchers warmup prior to entering the game. The phrase, according to PETA’s Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, “devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals.”
As pointed out by PETA’s press release, “bullpen” is a term used for where cows are held shortly before they are slaughtered. Instead, PETA has called for those who are in baseball as well as those who enjoy it to use the more animal friendly phrase “arm barn” when talking about where pitchers warmup.
PETA’s use of the term “outdated” does hold some merit in this case since many of baseball’s phrases are born from the 19th century era when the game was invented by Abner Doubleday. The terms “trading block” is another which would fall into this “outdated” category since its origins come from the slave trade.
As PETA also pointed out, “words matter,” so ask yourself if you have ever given a second thought to who was on the “trading block” and where that term comes from? Because I can remember visiting Williamsburg, Virginia seeing slave trading blocks on the street with plaques explaining their meaning. Yet, rest assured next summer when baseball teams start talking about trading players, who is and isn’t on the “trading block” will be discussed.
When it comes to improvements to the game of baseball, dropping “bullpen” is not the worst idea ever, since there are plenty of ideas commissioner Rob Manfred has recently tried out that are terrible. If you are a group that is willing to put yourself out there to protect animals, then suggesting what PETA did last week does make sense, and I would expect them to do nothing less in their quest. Some people, of course, took to social media to mock the idea while some relief pitchers did embrace it by finding images such as a blue barn and inserting it into Dodgers Stadium or showing a man on horseback riding in to save the day.
Knowing baseball, and sports in general, I bet you that by next spring there will be a team who sells their naming rights to their “Arm Barn” or whatever else a sponsor wants to call the place where relief pitchers warmup next season.
Because, why the hell not?
It only takes one person to embrace an idea before sharing it and it being embraced by others; so why shouldn’t one team take this suggestion to heart and run with it in 2022? Who knows, maybe there will be a day when terms like “bullpen” and “trading block” are only used where they should be, in history books and sports will follow the lead of society and drop the words and phrases that offend people, or even cows in the name of making it a better place for everyone to live.
While I can’t endorse “Arm Barn” as a phrase that will catch on, let’s give PETA credit for trying to find a name close to the current one when bringing an alternative idea to the table. And those who are willing to fight for an idea should not be mocked, so I hope that next season broadcasters and those in the baseball media won’t use “arm barn” as a punchline for a joke, because that would be like picking low-hanging fruit, and everyone should be held to a higher standard than that.