Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Take Me Out

Take Me Out
by Rob Cottignies



            Unfortunately, baseball season has started once again. Another half-year of going to bars and seeing the same boring game in various uniform colors on ten screens. I’ve often wished baseball a slow, wretched death but I fear that would take even longer because it is such a slow, wretched game.
            To get onto a non-baseball issue first, before the game everyone is asked to stand and remove their hats while the Star-Spangled Banner is performed. Standing supposedly displays respect and patriotism but therein lies a contradiction: How can something be patriotic if not everybody can do it? Are people without legs or who are wheelchair-bound not patriotic? I would think that if something was to be widely considered patriotic, whoever made up the tradition (yes, it was simply made up one day) would have chosen something that everyone can do. Like what? I don't know but I don't have to know because I didn't invent this meaningless ritual. And the whole standing/sitting debate that's come around is ridiculous. It doesn't matter whether someone stands, sits, kneels, lies down, or does jumping-jacks during a song. If love for your country is in your heart, that's good enough. Stop criticizing athletes for not standing during the Anthem. If you want to stand, do so. If not, don't. Stop putting so much emphasis on something that really doesn't matter.
            The hat-removal topic is even more inane but I won't go into it because George Carlin did a much better job discussing it than I ever could.
            Anyway, onto baseball…
            My main gripe with baseball is that action is seldom, thus making the game seemingly go on for eons:
            Batter steps up to the plate...
            He stretches for a bit...

            He demands everyone waits for him…
            He adjusts his batting glove…
            He digs into the dirt...
            He's finally ready to bat...
            The pitcher stamps his feet on the ground...
            He bends over...
            He looks at the catcher's crotch...
            He shrugs off one signal...
            Shrugs off another...
            He glances at the guy on first base because he moved an inch…

            He wonders what the guy on third is up to. Better have a look...
            He looks back at the catcher's crotch...
            He shrugs off another signal...
            Shakes his head yes...
            Stands up fully...
            Looks at the guy on third, again...
            Finally…THE PITCH!!!!!!
            Ball one.
            And it repeats...


            This mind-numbing routine could be cured simply by each batter getting one pitch. If the pitcher is good, he'll throw a strike. If the batter is better, he'll get a hit. One strike, you're out; one ball, you walk; swing and miss and you're out for the game. Also, allow each team one pitcher per game. No more relief or closers. If his arm gets injured or tired, he can throw with the other one, which just might lead to hits. Running! Things happening! Excitement! This would also potentially prevent a horrible pitchers’ duel. I cannot think of anything less interesting, except…
             Our batter is still at the plate and the count is now 2 balls, 1 strike. We missed two instances of crotch-looking and who really cares? While the batter removes then replaces his batting glove for no reason, I’ll take this time to note how lovely the weather is. Oh, it’s always lovely weather during baseball? Right, they don’t play in the rain because their obnoxious uniforms may get a tad muddy or, worse yet, someone might develop a wittle itty bitty case of the sniffles. But if that happens, he can go on the disabled list along with players who’ve sprained pinky knuckles or didn’t get their diapers changed before nap time.
            A little more crotch-looking and we’re at 3 balls, 2 strikes. Wait, is something about to happen? The count is full so something must happen. And it’s a hit! The ball goes foul. But a foul ball is a strike so this guy is out, right? Nope. This can only end one of three ways: 1) There will be a real strike and the batter will get angry and sit down after wasting ten minutes of everyone’s time; 2) He will hit the ball and people will have to move; or 3) The pitch will be outside of the strike zone and this bonehead will get to WALK the ninety feet to first base. Whatever happens will not be exciting but at least it won’t be an *intentional walk*. Please don’t make me describe that scenario.
            What bothered me about the whole steroids debate is that if I were to watch baseball, I’d want to see home runs. I do not care if Curveball Carlos can throw a ball with such a spin that it dips at the right time, thus resulting in a swing and/or miss. That fella should go into Physics and invent something useful with his skill. What I want to see is the insides of a ball smashed out. I want balls to fly out of the stadium and shatter people's windshields. I WANT A FINAL SCORE OF BREWERS 53, CARDINALS 45! Let's see some action, people!
            Also, I hate how only one team can score per half-inning. In real sports, one team generally possesses the ball or puck but at any moment the other team can steal it to score for themselves. That's exciting! Baseball, however, is not exciting. How can you watch a team only play defense?  It's like watching one side of a dodgeball game. I propose the team in the field earns a point for pegging a base runner with the ball. Two points for a face shot. That would surely make Mister Five-O’clock-Shadow rethink stealing second. Or, once per inning, the catcher can body-slam the batter to the ground and take his bat, hitting his own team’s pitch and scoring based on distance. But the batter can fight back- with the bat! And his cleats! The catcher has all that equipment on anyway; why not use it!?
            Alright, one more- there’s only one umpire! And it’s a one-eyed four-year-old from Uzbekistan who doesn’t move from shallow left field!
            Are my suggestions practical? I don’t care. I just think baseball should be as exciting as ESPN’s mindlessly eternal coverage pretends it is…