Memo Pad: Batter Up

Members of the so-called New York media elite have been accused of many things, but excessive athletic fervor - or skill - is rarely one of them.

BATTER UP!: Members of the so-called New York media elite have been accused of many things, but excessive athletic fervor — or skill — is rarely one of them. However, anyone willing to leave the cubicle for the ballpark can pick up enough celebrity cameo anecdotes for a season of cocktail parties. There was the year Chuck D manned first base for the Air America team, the time Tom Hanks came out to cheer for his daughter, a Vanity Fair intern, and this year, The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas has played a few games for the Rolling Stone team.

For true media junkies, there's the, well, inside baseball; for example, upon assuming the editorship of The Paris Review, New Yorker writer Philip Gourevitch pitched for both teams in a Review-New Yorker match. And, as befits media teams, games have been assiduously chronicled everywhere from Gawker to The New Yorker's Talk of the Town to company Web sites. GQ even devoted a page of its August issue to "The 10 Rules of Company Softball," acknowledging two of its own: "sneak out of work as early as possible, and, for the love of God, beat The New Yorker."

Now comes a development that promises to formalize what typically has been a rather haphazard process dependent on New York City Parks permits and proactive volunteer coaches: the formation of the New York Media Softball League. This year, charter league members BusinessWeek, DC Comics, High Times, Trader Monthly, The Wall Street Journal and WNYC radio have instituted regulations that include the use of an umpire and a mandate of one woman for every five men.

"It was a constant sore point between us and other teams that did not bring women out on a regular basis," said former High Times editor and coach, and current "commissioner" of the media league, Steve Bloom. (Sometimes the problem is reversed; Trader Monthly editor in chief and president Randall Lane recalls playing for the Cosmopolitan team when they lacked for men.) Bloom said Vanity Fair and The New Yorker were invited to join the league, but declined. "No knock on those guys, but they don't want to play on the same level, apparently," he said.
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