Over the weekend, my brother-in-law and I had a deep discussion regarding what Major League records, streaks and milestones would never again be reached. We volleyed, dipped and parried, throwing out memorized stats and tangible history: Joe Dimaggio’s 56 game hit streak. The 300 win plateu. 5000 career strikeouts. Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits.
On the surface, all of them seem insurmountable considering the modern game’s allegiance to softness, a result of the millions and millions and millions of dollars involved. We concluded that the game was going to evolve into something else, perhaps a realm where the magical achievements of the 20th century would never again be rivaled — that they simply couldn’t be, because the people and the philosophies and the technologies of the game had changed.
Considering what we know now about how the human body works, why would a team subject its star athlete to a 162 game season, every year, with no breaks and no rest periods at all? It just doesn’t make sense.
Which makes Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games played streak the holy grail of Major League records.
We consider the very real (and imminent) arrival of the Singularity era.
That’s right. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, consider Moore’s Law, which applies the exponential growth theory to the amount of transistors that can be aptly placed within an integrated circuit. The number doubles rather quickly (every two years or so), which is why 50 years ago the most basic of computers took up an entire wing of a building to do simple calculations and the iPhone or Droid you have in your pocket is able to take dictation, guide you from your home to the ballpark via GPS and give you the answers to any question at any time at speeds you never even dreamed possible (cue the Google Oracle music).
According to leading scientists, engineers and futurists, we are soon going to reach a point (within the next 30 – 50 years) where nanotechnology will be as common as laptops are today — that tiny yet powerful computers the size of blood cells will be programmed to reverse engineer the effects of aging, to fight off disease, to, in effect, provide superhuman powers.
Imagine having Albert Pujols, in the prime of his career, forever… or, at least for 40-50 solid years. Imagine Justin Verlander striking out 500 hitters each season with his 145 mph fastball. Imagine Carlos Zambrano murdering his entire —
Okay, so the Singularity era will also present some pretty controversial issues, like creating artificial intelligence that is able to out think us, which will blend the lines between what is real and what is not to the point where we could be opened up to an entirely new dimension, an entirely new worldview and/or perspective (like an ant suddenly realizing and being able to understand that there’s an entire world that exists above him).
But if we could see Albert in a Cardinals uni forever, tallying up as many career homeruns as there are trips around the sun and never getting hurt, I think all that sci-fi apocalypse shizz will be worth it.
So I retract my idea that some records will never be broken and confess: THEY ARE ALL GOING TO BE BROKEN. Believe it.
And don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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Jeff & Al
Jason Giambi and Babe Ruth wore the same uniform. Babe probably weighed a little more but they both played relatively the same role. Their job was to smack the hell out of a baseball. There’s no denying that Babe was much better at this job but you also wonder if Giambi were magically transported back in time, would he have had the same type of career.
The point here is that evolution makes comparison difficult. Jim Thorpe was a great running back. But would he even be competitive in today’s game? Technology, nutrition, education. All of these aspects contribute to the evolution of the game and I believe it’s safe to say that they contribute to our own personal evolution as well.
Sometimes evolution takes a scary turn, though. For instance, in football the evolution of the game has led to increased speed and power but our skulls haven’t gotten any thicker and our brains haven’t developed any more cushioning. Sure, helmet technology has mitigated some of the risk but the increased incidence of concussions and the NFL’s crackdown on hits to the head shows that sometimes evolution has downsides.
It’s also a little scary when evolution decides to use the fundamental building blocks at hand and go in a totally different direction. There are more benign instances like the devolving paths taken by baseball and cricket. But there are also truly frightening paths like when organisms decide to incorporate previously deadly substances into a new recipe for survival.
I’m not saying that this is the end of life as we know it any more than a pitcher throwing the ball 105 MPH is the end of baseball as we know it. Evolution and adaptation require a long-term view, not some sort of immediate, knee-jerk reaction. But I sure hope the arsenic monsters don’t come after me.
One of the most peculiar realms of science is understanding what exactly goes on inside of a black hole (and no, folks, we ain’t talkin’ about the vile emitting from Milton Bradley’s mouth). Widely understood as a “deformation of spacetime caused by a very compact mass” — an area from which nothing can escape the immense gravitational pull of its center — black holes are like the underground club scene of the cosmos: all kinds of weird s*** can happen… and does!
To me, the most interesting aspect of a black hole lies at its very center, past the event horizon, down the rabbit hole, settling on an infinitesimal point known as the singularity. If you were unfortunate enough to be sucked into a black hole and lucky enough to survive the trip down its core, by the time you reached the singularity you would surely be a shredded mess, the result of being filleted by the strongest forces theorized by the human mind.
But boy would it be an exciting death!
The oddest thing about the singularity is that once we start working in and around that point, we realize that the laws of physics become completely erroneous and unnecessary. That’s right, dear readers, when you get to the singularity, Einstein’s theory of general relativity makes no sense at all.
And while black holes and their singularities may be intangible to us from our terrestrial vantage point, if you look around you today you will see all sorts of things that could cause one to think we may be close to such a singularity — a place where what we see is so shocking, so odd, so perplexing that it just doesn’t make sense…
The Good Guys Win: Joe Mauer
Twins fans were so afraid they would lose their hometown hero to the evil chops of the Yankees and the Yankees 2.0 that doomsday scenarios and flat-out decrees of apostasy had already been accepted as fact. But in the end, the Twins had to sign Joe — for the sake of their new stadium and for the sake of their fans. And they did, for a very reasonable price. Oh, and by the way, the Twins are not a small-market team, so this situation is getting even more black-holish by the minute!
Liberal US Americans Actually Accomplish Something
After eight long years of maddening sound bytes, phantom wars against phantom enemies for phantom purposes and an all-out assault on reason, the liberal majority in the House got together and passed a health care bill that might actually work. Oh yeah, sure, not everyone is happy about it and the most concerning aspect is how we’re going to pay for it; but, in my opinion, the sheer fact that you won’t be financially punished for being sick anymore indicates a huge step forward. And besides, since when do US Americans care about national debt? Here, in the great state of Illinois, for as long as I can remember, the political machine has been borrowing money from the FUTURE to pay for current projects. I hear that Illinois is rich in the future, so I’m gonna see if I can get in on that too. I need a Lamborghini.
Exciting News Out of Cincinnati Reds Camp
You have to go back quite a few years to find anything worth anticipating from the Reds in March, but this year is different. Under the wise hand of former Cardinal front office legend Walt Jocketty, Cincinnati signed Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman during the offseason, hoping he would live up to his international hype. And boy does he! Thought by many to be an ace-caliber pitcher going into this season, Reds fans have a whole lot to be excited about for a change… of course, that is… until Dusty Baker blows out his arm and ruins his career.
Hate me ‘cuz I test the limits of physics, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
While you and I spend our time wondering when the Phillies bullpen will
next self destruct or why there aren’t as many green M&Ms as there
are brown, or how long it will take Glenn Beck to realize we’re laughing at him, not with him, there are some people in the world (scientists and such as) who pass the time by making ground breaking discoveries, actually furthering the intellect of the human mind.
Move over Lucy. Make way for Ardi.
That’s right. Australopithecus afarensis,
an extinct hominid (most commonly known as Lucy), who was once thought
to be our oldest common ancestor, now must take a backseat to the most
recently proclaimed elder of bipedalism: Ardipithecus (or Ardi for short).
Like it or not, this is a big deal because Ardi is a million years older than Lucy! Consider her the
cougar of the archaeological bar scene. And with her discovery, the
entire evolutionary map of modern day humans and just exactly where we came
from, how we evolved, what we once were, has been totally rewritten.
It is no longer safe to say we share a common ancestor with
chimpanzees. More likely than not, we came from Ardi and whoever (or
whatever) came before her. Her construction is rare, odd, striking: a
bipedal creature with an opposable big toe; an animal that walks
upright on land but acts as a quadruped in its arboreal environment,
Ardi is the corner border in a 5 gazillion trillion piece puzzle that
is the evolutionary road to modern day humans.
We’re starting to know where we came from.
Yet the only plausible explanation science can come up with for where the
ugly flop-sweat of a man known as Vicente Padilla came from is this
thing from the Clash of the Titans:
Hate me ‘cuz I don’t pull punches, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
**Special thanks to Jason Russell for the pic and assist. You can follow him on Twitter at @JasonrussellUT