Some profound lack of baseball history and a severe commitment to trolling from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which is urging pro baseball to drop the term bullpen because of a perceived link to bulls.
Now, there’s no better way to get attention in the Social Media era than to take an extreme position, double down on it, and then consider all attention to be good, even if it’s bad. And yes, we’re part of that echo chamber by publishing this story. But even by PETA standards their actions are pure trolling and deserve some level of ridicule.
First: in a tweet yesterday, PETA argued for baseball to replace the term bullpen with arm barn, arguing that bullpen is a speciest reference to where bulls are gathered before slaughter. But, alas, that reference is a bad assumption that has no basis in the history of the term, per MLB historian John Thorn:
This is exceedingly stupid. A bullpen was the name for an enclosure to rope off fans on field; it was also the name of a frontier ballgame (see below). The term bullpen, signifying the foul areas in back of first and third bases, was in use as early as 1877. pic.twitter.com/ufUZZ78eA7— John Thorn (@thorn_john) October 28, 2021
Yes, words matter. We know there’s a lot of bad folklore out there regarding bullpens–no, the term did not come about because of Bull Durham chewing tobacco ballpark marketing, for example. And it’s not wrong to challenge assumptions. In this case, though, we’ve moved from questioning assumptions to out-and-out trolling at worst, and bad history at best.