When the Toronto Blue Jays open the 2016 season against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida on Sunday, many fans will follow the game on Twitter, where pithy commentators such as Emily Martin (@JaysGirlEmily) spice up the action. We spoke to the 22-year-old baseball blogger and student from Oshawa, where she attends the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
Given that you describe yourself online as a baseball nerd valiantly trying to not get overly excited, what's your morale like?
I feel we have a better team now than we did at the start of last year. That's pretty obvious. But there's still this irrational worry of "what if something bad happens?" Last year, before the season even started, Michael Saunders was hurt and Marcus Stroman was hurt, and we thought that was the end of the world. But it turned out okay.
And, speaking from your baseball nerdiness, what's your opinion on the big decision to move young pitcher Aaron Sanchez from the bullpen to the starting rotation?
I'm happy for him. From listening to him, you got a sense of how hard he worked and how much he really wanted to be a starter. I feel like it would be a huge disappointment for him as a person, and for a lot of us who believe that he's better than a one-inning guy, if he was stuck in the bullpen again.
I'm interested in the way you answered that question, not just addressing the baseball strategy but also considering the player as a person. In general, do you think female fans and observers look at the game with a more well-rounded, empathetic and human point of view?
I don't think it's necessarily a gender divide in terms of empathy. With some of the woman I follow on Twitter, it's more of the analytical side. And some of the men are empathetic. But I think if you see the players more like people as well as athletes, you're going to be happier for the team when they succeed.
Do you follow and read Stacey May Fowles on baseball and the Jays?
I think she's great. She's very much about the emotional side of the game, which is why I like her so much. People can get really cynical and really harsh. I wouldn't want to be an athlete and have to read some of the critical things on Twitter.
Is any of the cynicism directed toward you on Twitter? Are you a victim of mansplaining?
I've had a couple like that. If it's from somebody I follow or someone I'm familiar with, it tends to feel helpful, or just a conversation about baseball. If it's a random person who comes at me with tweet that begins with "Well, actually," then it can come off as condescending. It's all in the phrasing.
A lot of terrible things were said online about incoming team president Mark Shapiro, and there's the perception that he pushed general manager Alex Anthopoulos out the door. Any thoughts on that?
I feel people who get the most angry at Shapiro now are probably the same people who wanted to fire Anthopoulos when he first started. Or the same ones who want to fire manager John Gibbons. I honestly feel bad for Shapiro. Where else do you come into a job and suddenly the public just detests you without learning a single thing about you? I mean, we haven't even played a game yet.
This interview has been edited and condensed.