Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Nothing Means Anything, I

A few years ago, I was having a conversation with an executive at a major publishing house.  We were talking about, of all things, the limited series remake of "Twin Peaks."  (Hey, it was a slow news day.)

Anyway, I was saying that I could no longer watch it, not so much because of all the pretentious nonsense—hey, this is TV—as because of the fact that the show repeatedly violated its own, internal logic.  (This goes on a lot in modern storytelling—see "Game of Thrones," last season.  Or better yet, don't see it.)

I felt that this made it unwatchable.  "If you can do such-and-such," I reasoned, "then you can do anything.  Nothing means anything."

To my surprise, said executive's eyes lit up.

"Yes," she breathed.  "Nothing means anything.  That's what I want in a story!"

Well, it's little moments like these that reveal the creeping nihilism now devouring our society at a rate far faster and more deadly than that Chinese lizard virus.  When someone in charge of the storytelling can tell you that random sensation is the way to go, you know you're in trouble.

Which brings me to baseball (of course).

I know it's a small thing, in the great, cosmological whirl of the universe today.  But hey, as the great Elvis Costello once sang, "It's not a matter of life and death/ What is, what is?"  

The decision by MLB to have every extra inning start with a man already on second base is an abomination.

You can't just go out and change a basic rule like that—especially when there's no need for it.  There has not been some flood of extra-inning games, or extra-inning games that go on and on and on, even longer than this piece.

This is just the idiots who run MLB acting like pretty much everyone else in charge in the USA right now, pretending to deal with a problem, while not really dealing with it.

The problem—one of the major problems that are rapidly killing our favorite sport—is that games today are too slow, and too long.  Putting a man on second in extra innings won't deal with that.  If there is any purpose to it at all—and never, ever count on the lords of MLB having a purpose—it's that they don't want to really shorten games (and thus restrict ad revenues) but only to make sure all games are pretty much the same length, the better to package them for TV.

But it is a fundamental disruption of the game as it has always been played, and one foisted upon us fans overnight, without the least consultation.

What about the designated hitter? I hear you say.  (My hearing is excellent.)

Well, the DH was first proposed sometime around the turn into the 20th century, I believe, meaning that it was weighed in the balance, gnawed over, and duly considered for nearly 75 years before the American League went ahead with—during which time pitchers became less and less able to hit.

The DH, I think, is a good innovation, because it means that pitchers don't have to do something they can't do, which is not what you want to see in any sport.  It addresses the unique hinge of baseball, which is an individual's game within a team game.  

But even with the DH, the game remains the same.  The batter hits, and runs the bases, if necessary.  It's just like having a permanent pinch-hitter.  No one is stuck on a base without earning his way there—not even through the patented, Jacoby Ellsbury "catcher's interference."

As far as I can tell, sticking a runner on a base to start an inning is something that has never, ever been part of professional baseball, in any form whatsoever.  It's as if you suddenly decided to have football plays begin with a receiver already 20 yards downfield.

This is a fundamental departure from what baseball is, and has always been, foisted upon us by men who will not make the changes to the game that fans really want, because that might cost them some money.  It is a shameful change, and it was shameful for the players to go along with it.

Mark my words:  it will open the door to any number of other shameful, greedy "innovations"until the game we know and love is unrecognizable.

Nothing means anything...


Anonymous said...

"creeping nihilism"

Amen, Hoss. An apt term for what is happening now throughout the entire fabric of society.

Yeah, as long as they wanted to put a runner on base to start extra innings, why only on second, why not load the bases? I don't get it. It's not just an abomination, it is the MOST STUPID thing that I have ever heard of. It will destroy the game.

BTW, does anyone know if this stupid rule will continue in the playoffs, or is it only for the 60 game regular season?

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