Thursday, January 21, 2021

"It's not a matter of life or death..."

 Filed on behalf of HoraceClarke66, whose computer was stolen and sold to Russia...

“…What is, what is?”


Well, actually a lot of stuff, much of which is being debated right now.  But let’s not go there.


Instead, I want to talk about something trivial:  The proposals to make the 2020 Abomination Rules—7-inning games in doubleheaders, starting every extra inning with a runner on second-base—a permanent disfigurement of the game we all love.


“Who cares, who cares?”


The words above were penned by the great Elvis Costello in 1980, part of a song called, “Hoover Factory.”  It’s about an old Hoover vacuum factory outside of London that was about to be torn down, like several other abandoned Art Deco buildings from the 1930s.


As you can see, it was drop-dead gorgeous:



But hey, what would be the big deal if it was reduced to rubble?


“It’s not a matter of life or death…”


Neither are these moronic new rules for pandemic baseball.  Installing them will just be one more example of chipping away at the great game for no discernible reason.


Baseball isn’t overrun by extra-inning games, especially not those that go on and on, inning after inning.  The owners long ago all but eliminated doubleheaders, so that they’re only played in the case of monsoon-level rainouts.


Nor do the lords of MLB have any interest in actually shortening the games.  Or addressing  the real problem, which is that the game today is more one-dimensional—and boring—than it has ever been.


What they are after is making the game more predictable.  Squeezing it into reliable, three-hour boxes.  This way it can be turned all the more easily into one of the timed games that baseball envies so much, football and basketball, where advertisers can be assured that the action will always take place within certain time slots.  


It’s all for the money, of course, like everything else, and if it mutilates the game some of us love so much, well, is that really so bad? 


And will it really be so bad when, not long from now, MLB puts ads on the outfield grass?  Then on the infield grass, the bases, and the uniforms? 


When all teams, as well as their stadiums, are named after their corporate sponsors?  When our favorite team becomes the My Pillow Yankees?


“Who cares…?”


The Hoover Factory, incidentally, was saved.  It was converted into a supermarket and apartments, with all of its salient elements preserved and it looks great. 


Just another beautiful thing.  Just something to make people feel better as they go into it or drive past it on another working day.  Just the way we think of baseball. 


If only somebody would save our favorite thing.




Anonymous said...

First off, beautifully presented.

There are a number of issues here and are all deserving of attention thank you for bringing them up.

The easiest one for me is the guy on second for extra inning games.

Yes, they are trying to fit games into a three hour box and it does destroy a part of the open endedness of baseball that I find appealing.

Unfortunately, I also understand that baseball, particularly broadcast baseball, is an entertainment product and the networks know that more people will watch "What's on next" than the 15th inning of a baseball game.

I'm not talking about stations like YES where "What's on next" is probably a rebroadcast of what was on before. I'm talking about where the league money comes from FOX and ESPN. It's time for Sports Center or Animation Domination damnit!

It makes sense for them to impose new rules to gain a measure of control over their broadcast schedule. The real question becomes, does it matter?

The rules of sports change from time to time. The 24 second clock in basketball made the game about scoring as opposed to "keep away" A round in boxing used to end on a knockdown. Football keeps dicking around with the the kicking game.

This is more an accommodation to the big networks as opposed to an improvement. To be fair, it does make extra innings more exciting. But it's about control and as such, I'm not so much a purist that it matters to me.

Some one here suggested a while back that they play a couple of innings the normal way and then do the man on second thing. I'd be good with that. Most extra inning games go ten or eleven and by the twelfth everyone wants to go home or to bed anyway so let's wrap this thing up.

Games change and sometimes so must we.

Doug K.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

"She's filing her nails while they're dragging the lake"

HoraceClarke66 said...

All good arguments, Doug—and let me say what a pleasure it is to actually argue with somebody, instead of exchanging insults.

I still say the above events—very long extra-inning games and, now, doubleheaders—are so rare that not even the MLB money machine will be seriously disrupted by such things.

And again, I feel that they're looking at the wrong things if they really want to pile up the gilders. Make baseball baseball again, with quick and varied play. (Did you know that Whitman called baseball America's game because it was so fast? Different time—but it was!)

But I get what you say, Doug. For instance, I've always liked the DH rule, though I know some find it an abomination. And as terrific a baseball historian and writer as John Thorn, for instance, wishes that we played "the Massachusetts Game" instead of what started as "the New York game."

Different strokes for different folks (Except of course for Giancarlo, who has the exact same swing no matter what the situation or where the ball is.).

What I don't like about the 2020 Abomination Rules, though, is that they are done purely for money and without regard to tradition, consistency, or...let's call it "peculiarity," one of those weird little quirks that still exist in our standardized, monetized world. Extra-inning games are peculiar.

And maybe it's just that the first full game I ever saw was the 15-inning, 1967 All-Star Game (which was truly bad—but still enchanting to an 8-year-old kid), but I miss that sort of peculiarity. Or that of a full doubleheader. Or someone who cares enough to make a vacuum factory look like a palace.

It seems we're always trying to make beautiful things into money-makers. Just let them be beautiful—and more often than not, the money will come.

HoraceClarke66 said...

And yes, Rufus—"Watching the Detectives," yet another masterpiece. And:

"'Don't get smart or sarcastic,'
She snaps back just elastic
'Spare us the theatrics
And the verbal gymnastics
We break wise guys just like matchsticks..."

I can still remember those lyrics by heart after almost 40 years!

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Pure poetry.

Mr. Joe Jackson springs to mind for some reason. Another underappreciated poet. "Did you hear about the bishop and the actress?"

God I hope there's a real season soon.

Toast Patterson said...

Too bad we did not send the Arizona "London Bridge" back to England for the Hoover factory and cash.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Love me some Joe Jackson:

"We are young but getting old before our time
We'll leave the TV and the radio behind
Don't you wonder what we'll find?
Steppin' out tonight..."

That music always makes me think of New York in the seventies, for better and for worse.

HoraceClarke66 said...

He was, incidentally, "Well-Shod" Joe Jackson.