PETA is pitching Major League Baseball to retire the term “bullpen” and use “arm barn” instead. The animal rights group says “bullpen” mocks the misery of animals and devalues players.
In baseball, a bullpen refers to both the group of relief pitchers and the physical area where the pitchers warm up.
“Bullpen” refers to the area of a “bull’s pen” where bulls are held before they are slaughtered—it’s a word with speciesist roots & we can do better than that.
Switching to “arm barn” would be a home run for baseball fans, players, and animals 💪⚾️ pic.twitter.com/2FzSpDG9mQ
— Arm Barn (@peta) October 28, 2021
To make the point, PETA Twitter account has at least temporarily changed its name to Arm Barn.
PETA says that cows and bulls are typically held in bullpens before they are “hung upside down and their throats are slit in the meat industry” and “tormented into kicking and bucking by being electro-shocked or prodded.”
“Words matter, and baseball ‘bullpens’ devalue talented players and mock the misery of sensitive animals,” PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a news release. “PETA encourages Major League Baseball coaches, announcers, players, and fans to changeup their language and embrace the ‘arm barn’ instead.”
This is happening as the World Series is being played and MLB is facing continuing controversy over Atlanta Braves’ fans doing the “Tomahawk chop,” which has received criticism from Native American tribes.
PETA’s suggestion draws mixed reactions
New York Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier jokingly advocated for the switch of terms on Twitter, saying “please name it this!!!”
“now warming up in the arm barn”
“who is that warming up in the arm barn?”
please name it this!!! 🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/h4OOcCkBzB
— Clint Frazier (@clintfrazier) October 28, 2021
The Tampa Bay Rays joined in and suggested their own term: Ray Tank.
Tired: Arm Barn
Wired: Ray Tank
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 28, 2021
One fan said they’d only agree to “arm barn” on one condition.
Only way I’m calling it “arm barn” is if it looks like this next year pic.twitter.com/EOGGW2eXBL
— Dave (@DoyersDave) October 28, 2021
Nicholas Williams of the NFL’s Detroit Lions, chimed in as well, tweeting, “lol I talked to the cows they said they don’t care.”
Please @MLB don’t change the term “Bullpen” to “Arm Barn…” lol I talked to the cows they said they don’t care.
— Nicholas Williams (@NickWilliams_98) October 29, 2021
The origins of baseball’s “bullpen” are hazy
There are many hypotheses about where “bullpen” as a baseball term originated, but it’s thought to be have first been used to describe where pitchers warm up in the December 1915 issue of Baseball Magazine.
At the turn of the century, almost every ballpark had a large bull-shaped Bull Durham tobacco billboard on the outfield wall. Relief pitchers would warm up in the shadow of the bull, and the area eventually became known as the bullpen.
Tien Le is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.