Back in the day I was a hell of a baseball fan.
I could tell you who platooned at catcher for the 1971 Washington Senators (Paul Casanova and Jim French). I could tell you who Moonlight Graham was before the excrable "Field of Dreams" fantasy made him a household word. I read Bill James and honestly cared who went into the Hall of Fame.
Well, I grew up, sort of, and moved away from baseball, developing a passion for soccer, a love-hate relationship with lacrosse (love the game, hate the "leagues" that play it) and a secret fascination with oddball, nonprofessional sports like curling and roller derby.
But there are moments when baseball rears up and slaps me in the head with why I stopped following the game.
The steroids had something to do with it; I knew...hell, everybody watching the game knew...that Sosa and McGwire didn't get those biceps drinking their Tiger's Milk. The cheap homers and the return of what Bill James called "sit-on-your-ass" baseball, where both teams and the fans sat around and waited to see whose pitcher would hang one in the other teams' slugger's wheelhouse, had something to do with it. The loathsome antics of the owners, a bunch of spoiled rich men who finally discovered that they didn't have to put up with some crotchety Commissioner telling them what they couldn't do by placing their own bobo in the Commissioner's chair, had a LOT to do with it.
But mostly it was stuff like this that killed my affection for the game.
This little bit of nonsense is a perfect illustration of the way I feel about professional baseball as a sport and am beginning to feel about my country as a nation.
Here's a perfectly simple situation; someone makes a mistake. Call it invading a foreign country that presented no threat to us. Call it letting a private company take charge of an environmental disaster of its own making. Call it letting the same charlatans who swindled each other and the public continue their monte games with the full and complete guarantee of the Federal Reserve. Call it blowing a call at first and fucking up a pitcher's perfect game.The solution is obvious; take charge. The "rules" and "traditions" of baseball are not sacred. The "free market" is not a religion. The "respect" and "dignity" of a nation, or a nation's leaders, are not worth a pint of pig piss when compared to human lives and individual rights.
So you, the leader, the "Commissioner", step in, reverse the call, make the official end of the game the out Jason Donald made, end of story.
Imagine if all those OTHER choices were so simple! That the destruction of the north Gulf of Mexico could simply be undone. That the tens of thousands of deaths and billions in damage and destruction could be just revived and reconstructed as if they'd never happened. That the jobs and wealth of all those of us fucked over by the moronic "Master of the Universe" could be redeposited into our IRAs and mortgages and bank accounts.
But this worm, this flyspeck, this insignificant, niddering, wretched simulacrum of a man, this Selig, this sock-puppet for his wealthy cronies, this echoing, empty tube of encrusted toilet tissue says "that Major League Baseball will look at expanded replay and umpiring, but (would not) specifically address umpire Jim Joyce's botched call Wednesday night."
In other words, the "rules", the arbitrary laws that we ourselves set up, are more important to Selig and men like him than taking action outside the "rules" to correct an obvious error and right a wrong done to real people in real places. Better than a real man should be denied than a powerful organization should be seen to be in - or admit to, and correct its - error.
Conformity trumps neccessity. Complacency trumps action. Image trumps reality.
And, yeah, I'm kind of done with that, too.
A vigorous, active, healthy society makes rules that make sense for its daily lives, actively question and live to those rules, and when those rules conflict with good sense, health, and vigor,, temporarily abrogates or even permanently changes those rules. When a society falls to blindly "following the rules", when the form of things matter more than the function, when rules becomre more important than human lives, or reality, or sense?That's a problem. That's a society with no outs, the bases loaded and the game tied, deep in the late innings, with a tired pitcher and a manager who is out of relievers.
I can't help but see this as a snapshot of a game, and a society, that are looking perilously close to walking off the field hung with an "L".