America has become an unequal place. Yes, there’s the enforced salary cap equality of sports like football that has led to a more competitive game. But in general, the haves and the have-nots of baseball more accurately reflect what’s really happening in our society. Sure, money doesn’t always ensure that you’ll win it all but there’s a reason why the New York Yankees are the winningest team in MLB history while teams like Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Oakland and Denver have flourished in the NFL.
Inequality in sports is bad enough but the inequality between people matters even more. What does it say about a country when a Congressional committee hearing on contraception has exactly zero female invitees? I think it’s safe to say that even Kenny Powers respects women more than Darrell Issa.
Inequality also appears to be rearing its ugly head among the Republican presidential contenders, although at least one of them doesn’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that Santorum was trying to throw the race by saying the most patently offensive things possible. And yet, he’s not only still in the running, he’s also somehow leading Mitt Romney in polling for upcoming important contests. This continued surge of Santorum (…ahem) seems to prove not only that a portion of the country supports his worldview, it also shows us that quite a few Americans really are batshit insane.
Inequality tends to right itself eventually. The conspicuous consumption of the 1920’s and the ensuing Depression led to a recalibration in the 30’s and 40’s. Today, a similar series of events has left a recession that seems to tenaciously hold back growth outside of a fraction of the population, while a small-scale revolt against income equality has risen up in areas of the country. Are we seeing another recalibration? Me, I’d say there’s hope because there’s one place where we are all still equal.
Considering it’s the off-season, there’s sure a lot going on. Ok, maybe not so much in the world of baseball where the AL’s Prince Fielder hangover is finally starting to wear off, but everywhere else, it’s pandemonium.
Of course there was the Superbowl, which, once again, was a phenomenal game. If you’re not American, there’s a good chance you’re following either the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament or tuning in for the ongoing rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona. And somehow people care about basketball again. But, that’s just sports.
In the non-athletic domains, the action is even more intense. Syria is descending into civil war and threatens to take the rest of the Middle East with it. Mitt and Newt, both of whom should be excluded from presidential consideration based solely on their first names, continue to slug it out in the race to the Republican nomination. If that’s not enough for you, we also have Iran’s war-mongering which seems to consist mainly of vaguely Monty Python-esque threats.
There’s another Iran note that truly caught my attention, though. It seems that they’re hedging their bets on the whole nuclear program by creating an unconventional back-up plan:[youtube http://youtu.be/MJjpFYVvwBo]
I’ll tell you what, you can laugh off Iran saying they’re going to close the Straits of Hormuz. But ninjas? No one laughs at ninjas. Except maybe Chuck Norris.
One of the best parts of election years is watching the candidates say things that you know are going to come back and bit them in the ass. The classic example is George Bush Sr’s famous “Read my lips: No new taxes” quote. It’s kind of like guaranteeing a victory in the NFL playoffs or calling your shot in baseball. If you make good on it, you look like a genius. And if you don’t, well, you just look like an ass.
The thing about GB Sr., though, is that his promise was rather benign. No new taxes. Sure, that sounds good even if it isn’t really all that realistic. And compared to what the candidates are saying this time around, well, it also sounds rather sane.
Consider Newt Gingrich’s recent promise to colonize the moon by 2020. Now aside from the fact that there is really no good reason to establish a permanent base on the moon nor any feasible way of doing so, it also seems like maybe we should focus the immense resources needed for such a mission on infrastructure projects or the like, things with tangible benefits that can not only be shared by all citizens but also put the those same citizens to work. Call me crazy but that’s just how I look at things.
When it comes to crazy, though, the moon base is only one of Gingrich’s many issues. In fact, the more you look at what the guy says and does, the more you realize that he probably is legitimately mentally ill. Megalomania, irrationality, wild mood swings. It’s all there on the public record and in the numerous articles written about the former Speaker.
I don’t know, though. Even though it’s terrible for the country and would turn the general election into a joke, there’s a part of me that wouldn’t mind seeing Newt get the nomination. Who knows what other gems might be uncovered as he reaches for the highest office in the land? More than that, at least his crazy is kind of fun. It’s much better than the kind of crazy that says rape victims should “Make the best out of a bad situation.” That, my friends, is truly insane.
To say I have resentments over Major League Baseball’s long-standing tradition of being completely out of touch with its fans is like saying I’m not worried about the future of the Republican party: IT’S EXTREMELY UNDERSTATED!!!
After all, we the FANS are what make professional baseball work. WE are the ones who pay $30 for a nosebleed, who dish out $8.50 for a crappy beer. WE are the ones who have to see therapists when our favorite superstars go wherever the money takes them and WE are the ones who, despite what happens in the offseason, can’t wait to get back to the ballpark and throw our hard earned money around. So when we get dissed by the governing hands of the sport we love so much, IT HURTS.
The NBA set up its own network in 1999. The NFL perfected the craft in 2003. And the NHL (yes, that’s the one where they play hockey) started its own network in 2007.
It wasn’t until 2009 — a good TEN YEARS after the NBA set the precedent — that MLB finally gave the fans the opportunity to experience baseballgasms 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I can hardly remember life before MLBN, and I don’t want to.
But there has been something missing in its programming. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the lineup of shows they’ve been rolling out. Brian Kenny’s new Clubhouse Confidential is fantastic. Prime 9 is a classic. And nothing beats MLB Tonight. Yet the very nature of baseball fandom — getting lost in the numbers playground and tooling around for hours — seems to open itself up to a… TRIVIA SHOW!
Enter Matt Vasgersian and Baseball IQ, which premiered on the Network last night. Vasgersian’s cool. Baseball trivia is cool. How can this possibly not be a kick @$$ show?
Quite easily actually. Rather than having real fans as contestants — y’know, the type of Joe Plumber uberdork (me?) who will argue and bet stats in a bar ’til the beast looks beautiful — they instead use MLB employees:
“It will be a 32-person bracket with one participant representing MLB.com, each of the 30 clubs and the National Baseball Hall of Fame — featuring everyone from front-office personnel to equipment managers to scoreboard operators and museum curators.”
Um… (channel Eddie Murphy Delirious voice) dat’s not iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
MLB employees?!?!?!? Would you watch Jeopardy if the contestants were limited to the authors of the Encyclopedia Britannica?!?!?!
Okay, so the “prize” money is donated to charity. Whoop-dee-doo. If I wanted to watch a charity event I’d go to a golf course. Or a walk-a-thon.
The MLB Network had a great opportunity to connect with its fans — the very people who keep the Network going — by allowing everyday folks who live/eat/breathe baseball but don’t get paid for it to shine.
Instead, they produced the equivalent of an Alfonso Soriano swing at a ball in the dirt, low and away.
Don’t hate me. ‘Cuz you know I’m right.
I told myself that I wasn’t going to write about politics today. Yes, this blog is all about baseball and politics but with the Republican primaries going on, it seems like all I can do is mock the ridiculousness of the candidates. So, today, I wasn’t going to do this. Then I read about “the incident that almost was” yesterday at Tommy’s Country Ham House in South Carolina.
Yes, I know, the zaniness of Newt and Mitt both scheduling events for the same time at Tommy’s Country Ham House is almost unfathomable. It’s like a British farce without the intelligence. Or the British. Actually, I guess it’s just kind of a farce. I particularly like the fact that Newt seems to be intent on making the contest as high school as possible. The exact quote is, “I have a question. Where’s Mitt? I don’t think they have New England clam chowder on the menu.”
This guy is seriously being considered as the next president of the United States? It’s only a matter of time before he resorts to yo’ momma jokes. “Hey Mitt, yo’ momma’s so stupid, she named you Mitt.” To which Romney will of course reply, “Your name is Newt.” I ask again, these guys are seriously being considered as the next president of the United States?
Anyway, so much for not writing about politics today. I blame the Ham House. And South Carolina.
Ty Cobb was a great baseball player but not a very nice person. Actually, he wasn’t a very nice baseball player either, regularly trying to hurt the competition. The thing about Cobb, though, is that he never pretended to care about other people. Love him or hate him, you could never say that he was a hypocrite. He did everything balls out and that included his racism.
That’s the difference between Cobb and two of the remaining candidates for the Republican presidential nomination. When Cobb said something, he owned it. He was an awful person but he didn’t try to hide behind obfuscations and pseudo-intellectual drivel in an attempt to prove that he actually meant something else.
What is truly amazing is that 50 years after Cobb’s death, Rick Santorum can say he doesn’t want to “make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money” and Newt Gingrich can regularly call Barack Obama “the food-stamp President.” And then both men try to claim that they’re just trying to help black people. I have a feeling that Newt’s phrase “I know among the politically correct you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable…” has a good chance of becoming the new “I’m not a racist but…”
The only thing black that Santorum and Gingrich should be talking about is the space inside their respective heads. Come to think of it, there was an article written about that recently, too. “Abyssal yawns 10 times the size of our universe.” Yep, that sounds about right.
That guy in the pointy hat made another statement on gay marriage recently, saying it is “one of the most serious threats to the traditional family unit” and that it undermines “the very future of humanity.”
Hmm. I can think of a bazillion things that are a far greater danger to the very future of humanity, like, protecting monsters who rape children, making it illegal for someone to marry whom he/she loves, and not challenging a discourse that is solely based on bronze age delusions “encouraged” by an invisible sky daddy.
Two More Years of Bud Selig
Ugh. Really? If only MTV could rock the MLB owners’ vote. No more King Bud! Things have gotten better recently, yes, but there are at least three egregious errors committed during his reign that demand a new king: 1) Not addressing the PED issue until it was too late 2) the ongoing All-Star Game yields World Series home field advantage fiasco and 3) being the last of the big four to launch its own network (seriously, it’s sad when the NHL beats you, at anything).
Also, I can think of at least three perfect candidates for the commissioner’s job: Joe Torre, Bob Costas and ME!!!
Between Mitt, Santorum and a bevy of derailed crazy trains, I can only shake my head as I watch the Republican party fall deeper and deeper into delirium. If only our political leaders would take a page out of Aussie PM Bob Hawke’s book:
Now THAT, my friends, is a dear leader.