When umpiring goes wrong in baseball, it’s hard to accept. When it goes really wrong, when power is abused, helmets thrown and expensive beer senselessly wasted, the fans demand robots. But robots will not make you feel better.
They might make the right calls. It won’t matter. Not when the right call goes against you.
Yesterday, Brian McNamee took the stand to testify against Roger Clemens. I know this because it was reported by literally every news outlet on the series of tubes invented by Al Gore known as the Internet.
It was news, it happened, it should be reported on. I’m not going to try and downplay the magnitude of this story. Actually, no, scratch that. I’m absolutely going to try and downplay the magnitude of this story.
Yeah, Roger Clemens probably cheated on baseball (what does innocent until proven guilty mean again?) but how deep into the legal system do we need to go with this? I mean, maybe I’m looking at it with Canadian eyes and if this was a case of Sidney Crosby lying to the House of Representatives things would look different (they wouldn’t, but whatever, I’m making a point).
My problem isn’t that Clemens is on trial; my problem is that the media has looked to this as a story to end all stories. I say a story to end all stories because there’s a new one every week, it’s just the nature of the 24-hour news cycle. And that’s all well and good (kind of) but the problem starts when we look at just what that never-ending news cycle decides to focus on.
Editorial Note: If there is one thing that all of humanity can agree on, no matter our class, colour, creed or race, it’s that power rankings are ridiculous. I’m convinced that the sole purpose of such exercises in subjective silliness is to give people on certain baseball podcasts something to talk about for ten minutes. They add little and are, generally speaking, a colossal waste of time.
If one is interested in taking stock of where the different teams in baseball are, I suggest one look to the standings. If one is interested in gleaning something beyond the mere outcomes of the games, and increase one’s understanding of the soul of each baseball team, without the hindrance of accuracy, I recommend one read the following piece commissioned from Ryan Oakley.
Ryan is the author of the science fiction novel Technicolor Ultra Mall. His Twitter feed and blog are perfect examples of the types of opinions that you wish you had: informed, witty and slightly acerbic. He’s pretty rad. -D.P.
The American League East
New York Yankees
The Yankees story is always the same.
“We’re professional baseball players. We’ll take it from here. Just hand over the division and no one will get hurt. Have sex with our shortstop for your chance to win a free gift-basket.”
For all but four teams, tomorrow and the day after mark the opening of another season of baseball. For many of us, tonight is reminiscent of Christmas Eve, but not just any Christmas Eve, the Christmas Eves that we experienced as children and have sadly become incapable of recreating in our adulthood.
Somehow, the game of baseball is able to bridge a gap between childhood and adulthood in a fashion for which not even the Western World’s favourite holiday is capable.
And so, may I present to you, a special late night treat:
As the bench coach for the best team in baseball, Pete Mackanin has every reason to be a happy man. “This is the heyday of the Phillies right now. I’m so happy to be a part of it.”
Mackanin is aware what a special club the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies are shaping up to be. “I was speaking with the coaches in the clubhouse the other day,” he said from the visitor’s clubhouse last weekend at Nationals Park. “This club is the best team I’ve been associated with record wise in my 43 plus years in baseball.”
It’s much tougher to wield an adequate glove while playing shortstop or center field than it is first base or left field – imagine Mark McGwire trying to do what Ozzie Smith did for 19 years. It’s a blatantly obvious point that somehow gets missed when voting time rolls around.
Alan Trammell excels with the bat and in the field, but he can’t get a whiff of support because he hit 197 fewer homers than Jim Rice. At least Trammell’s still on the ballot. Players with solid Hall of Fame cases like Bobby Grich and Lou Whitaker couldn’t even garner the necessary 5% support to warrant consideration, because voters can’t figure out how to value well-rounded second basemen.
You Had To Be There
It’s after 5 pm here on the West Coast, and I’m watching the sunset at the beach. The sun drops, drops, drops…and it’s gone! Into the ocean! Miraculously, a brand new sun will appear, fully formed, 13 hours from now. This is roughly how Hall of Fame voters justify ignoring numbers in making their case for or against certain players.
Jack Morris is a Hall of Fame pitcher because…well…you had to be there. Here’s the thing about us humans: We’re terrible at observing reality. As in the case of the setting sun, our eyes can only take us so far. Our minds are even more unreliable. We remember Jack Morris’ dominant Game 7 in the 1991 World Series, but conveniently forget his miserable playoff performance the very next year. This is known as confirmation bias, where we collect observations that prove our argument, and throw out the ones that disprove it. This is why science exists, people. Without hard data, our observations can be nearly useless – or worse than useless.