It’s Saturday. I feel lazy. I went to the Riverboat last night and didn’t get home till 4:30 AM. But here I am, blogging away.
It constantly amazes me how difficult it is to come up with new topics, new angles all the time to satisfy the voracious maw that is this blog. As readers know, I generally don’t make a habit of including the personal in this journal. But I think the following posts illustrate something universal about the human condition and relate to some of my favorite things in life.
“FORTUNE FAVORS THE FOOLISH” (James Tiberius Kirk, Star Trek II)
The other day, significant Otherhawk and I went to the store to pick up a few essentials; Oscar Mayer Bologna, Velveeta cheese, Hellman’s REAL mayonnaise, and Rosen’s Jewish Rye…all of which no self-respecting man in western civilization can live without.
On the way out the door, Otherhawk did something she NEVER does; she bought two instant scratch-off lottery tickets. We sat in the car scratching them. Mine was a bust, no winners. But Otherhawk matched one number on the card.
We were expecting no more than a $5 or $10 winner. So, imagine our surprise when she scratched off the space where the prize amount was revealed:
THE PRIZE AMOUNT WAS $100,000!!!
That’s right…$100,000. We. Just. Couldn’t. Believe. It. In fact, it still hasn’t sunk in. The odds of winning the grand prize were 1:672,544. Which just goes to show you…
“THE FORCE WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU” (Obi Wan Kenobi)
I suppose this event would be called a “life changing” experience. At the very least, it comes at an extremely opportune time with Otherhawk laid up since last February with a workers’ comp claim and I, a 50 year old unemployed fat man trying to recapture the magic of his youth when writing came so easily and turning a phrase such a goddamn joy. This journal was, in fact, started as a way to exercise long dormant skills…skills honed for politicians and advocacy groups more than 25 years ago. The “finger exercises” these posts represent are slowly beginning to rekindle a belief that I might have something unique to say about this country, our culture, and the wonderful and wondrous people who inhabit this “city on a hill.”
HOT STOVE LEAGUE
The Captain has an excellent post on the debate in Major League Baseball over the use of instant replay:
“Upon further review, baseball will hold off on taking a look at instant replay. After watching umpires reverse almost every missed call in the postseason, major league general managers split 15-15 Thursday on whether to keep exploring the subject.” (Fox News, 11/12)
The Capn’ points out the games are gettting longer and longer and that instant replay will only exacerbate that situation:
“Now they want to use instant replay? Putting that in place will make an average ball game last longer than the director’s cut of Lord of the Rings: The Return Of The King. If the experience of the NFL is any gauge, the extra time won’t result in significantly better calls, as most challenges seem to result inconclusively.”
Forget the fact that I LOVE LOTR…the Capn’ makes a good point. Replay, in addition to lengthening games, will I believe undermine that authority of umpires and significantly alter the game itself.
Anyone who follows baseball closely knows that the quality of umpiring has declined dramatically over the last 10 years. The easy explanation is the same for a decline in the quality of Major League pitching; expansion. The number of umpires has increased by 15% over the last ten years. And while this explanation deals superficially with the quality of umpiring, it doesn’t say anything to the sheer unprofessionalism of many of the newer umpires who, for some reason, seem to feel themselves anointed by God to inject themselves into games. Their biases for or against certain players are well known. Their short fuse when it comes to criticism by players and managers are, for long time observers of the game, both baffling and maddening.
The failure of umpires to enforce the rules already on the books especially with regards to the size of the strike zone, contributes in no small way to the length of games. Again, this relates to the hubris of many umpires today who don’t seem to feel bound by either tradition or the rules when it comes to trying to speed up the game.
At any rate, the Capn’ has some interesting comments about how to speed up the game starting with players should be unable to step out of the batters’ box once they step in. This is similar to a suggestion made by Bill James who says that players should have the ability to call a limited number of timeouts. Mr. James, who has both rabid admirers and fanatical detractors, also suggests limiting throws over to first base with runners on and limiting the number of times a manager can change pitchers within an inning. Both rules, I believe would radically alter the game. Mr. James doesn’t think so and believes that speeding up the game to make it more entertaining is what’s important.
I love baseball. I admit to not loving it as much since the onset of free agency, steroids, the designated hitter, the wild card, half-billion dollar contracts, and the ridiculous posturing, trash talking, and egomania of today’s players.
But, oh how I still love the game.
Baseball is still the national pastime. Football, you ask? Yes football is a more popular game …but there’s more to baseball than merely an athletic contest. Baseball is a state of mind, an existential rumination that, at its heart, is more reflective of America and Americans than any other institution we have today. Witness Terrence Mann’s speech (James Earl Jones) in “Field of Dreams”:
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Mann was talking about tourists coming to Iowa to watch “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the other greats of the past play the game. But, couldn’t he also be speaking to the current controversey about the length of the games? How much will baseball, the pastime change if we fiddle with the essence of the game?
“Caution, my dear Mr. Gildersleeves…lest our emotions get the better of our common sense…” (”Death Takes a Holiday“)