Class Warfare Blog

November 4, 2016

World Series Afterthoughts

Filed under: Philosophy,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 9:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

cubslogoI just finished watching the victory parade of the 2016 Chicago Cubs, who just two days ago won the “World Series” best of seven games mini-tournament. As a resident of the city of Chicago, I couldn’t be happier, but it wasn’t that long ago that I had basically given up on watching sports because, well, it was all so meaningless. Then an editor of the Atlantic magazine made a comment about sports, namely that they possessed a “magnificent meaninglessness.” At that point I realized that “meaning” was overrated in the first place and sports allowed one to pretend they were meaningful, they allowed us to be passionate and to root for our team, but not so that others would take mortal offense at our actions. I have yet to hear of a war being fought over a team or event and I hope never to. (Do you hear me, soccer fans?) So meaninglessness wasn’t a bug, it was a feature.

This World Series, I thought, was fabulous and it would be whether the Cubs had won or not. (I am a Giants fan and when the Cubs eliminated the Giants in the playoffs, I felt it was okay to root for the Cubs.) Here are some other thoughts:

  1. How can one not like the Cubs? They have quality players who are young and very talented and play the game right with a blend of humility and common sense. They have a nice blend of rookies and veterans and play intelligent baseball.
  2. It is a shame someone had to lose this series. Cleveland’s players played their hearts out and came within an eyelash of winning.
  3. Why does every baseball player when photographed in their dugout, chose that moment to spit?
  4. Apparently Fox Sports 1 is locked in as the network to cover the World Series for some years which is a shame. Their coverage was absolutely awful. Now, I understand that baseball games have had declining ratings for many years now and the networks covering them have been looking for ways to spice them up to draw more viewers, but sheesh. Fox started irritating me by injected commercials and interviews into innings (I could skip over the tedious and drawn out pre-game shows). Baseball has always been an advertiser’s delight because there is a natural break after every half inning of a nine inning game, but squeezing in more commercial shots between batters? C’mon man!

And the broadcast crew (not the pre-game or post game stuff, those can be avoided, but the in game announcers … would … not … shut … up. It was if they were broadcasting radio. Joe Buck would tell us who was up at bat and what the count was as a reminder and would call balls and strikes when the little box in the corner of the TV screen had all of that info on display continuously. Then they would be telling stories that were barely relevant when important things were happening on the field. Their cameramen would be taking close-ups of player’s faces in the dugout who were deep in conversations but the shot wasn’t wide enough to show who they were talking to, nor would they speculate on what the conversation was about.

The on screen “enhancements” were lousy, as usual. When a home run was hit they would show a colored line in a replay, supposedly showing the path of the ball into the stands, except you could see the ball in the same shot and it was clear the colored line was somewhat close to the ball but not on the path the ball was taking, making the line … what, another path the ball could have taken or … maybe just eye candy for the underage set?

And the strike zone graphic. The effective strike zone of most umpires is over the plate and from just under the batter’s knees to about their belt buckle (when standing straight up, not in their normal stance, otherwise Rickie Henderson would have drawn a walk every plate appearance). Some of the players were in the range of  6′ 7″ tall  and others closer to 5′ 9″ tall but the box never changed size and often it was clearly positioned too low for the player at the plate. Then, of course, on important pitch replays they used a graphic, with a swoosh line for the ball’s trajectory, leaving behind a circle where the ball crossed the plate. If the grid was in the wrong place, the graphic conclusion was incorrect and it often was. This was clearly shown a couple of times when a replay from an overhead camera showed a different path than the one described both verbally and graphically.

And the bullshit statistics they kept coming up with … argh! In baseball, statistics are used for myriad purposes, but the Fox Sports 1 statistics were typically bizarre, things like “the youngest player to hit a home run in a World Series Game, since year yada, yada.” At one point they breathlessly explained that in one game the #3 and #4 hitters in the Cubs lineup had combined for seven hits and that had never happened in a World Series game before. So … what? Particularly uninteresting were the “Cubs firsts” when they compared home runs with the team’s previous win, in 1908, which was in the “dead ball era” of baseball, an era in which almost no one hit home runs. In the dead ball era, baseballs were used so long in a game that they became so dirty they couldn’t be seen as light faded into evening. Now, if a ball touches the “dirt” (it is not really dirt, and I’m not sure there is any dirt in it) it is removed from play. Such comparisons were stupid to say the least. Now all of the games are played at night, then they played in sunshine, etc.

There is one comparison that seemed valid, though: there were more people attending the Cubs Victory Parade and Rally today than lived in the entire city of Chicago in 1908, the last time the Cubs won.

The best trivia question today was Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts asking the crowd: how many years has it been since the Cubs won the World Series? The crowd dutifully answered: “108 years,” and Ricketts responded “The correct answer is … zero years.” And so it is.

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8 Comments »

  1. Interesting stuff. I personally couldn’t stand Pete Rose during the pre- and postgame shows. He was kind of the comic relief, but really unnecessary.

    I had to work Game 7, building a front page celebrating the historic win, which was a thrill in and of itself.

    Here’s my story: https://jaredmcneillblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/04/world-champion-cubs/

    Comment by mcneilljared — November 4, 2016 @ 11:01 pm | Reply

    • Very cool! It is interesting that the “pre-game hype” associated with things like the Super Bowl has grown and grown and crossed over into other sports. Ordinary football games now have 1-2 hour pre-game shows. As a rule I tend to avoid them. When a network says “coverage begins at X o’clock” I look to see when first pitch or kick off is and just do not watch those shows. Because those shows have so much time to fill, “commenters” or “common taters” as my father used to say often are forced into saying things that are mundane, irrelevant, and nonsensical.

      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 5, 2016 @ 8:41 am | Reply

  2. The series came at a time when we needed it most – as a reprieve from this shitty election. And I agree with you. FOX sportscasting is the worst. Do they have their kids operating the cameras?

    Comment by lbwoodgate — November 5, 2016 @ 3:45 am | Reply

    • Unfortunately, this cinematographic approach to baseball has become the norm, . And I am quickly becoming the grumpy old man chasing kids off of his lawn.

      ;o)

      On Sat, Nov 5, 2016 at 3:45 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 5, 2016 @ 7:34 am | Reply

  3. I like it when sport is the winner.

    Comment by john zande — November 5, 2016 @ 4:50 am | Reply

  4. I grew up near Peoria, the Cubs were my childhood team. Which means I am elated the Cubbies won the series.

    re #3 above: Or scratch their crotch, or do the one finger nostril clear, I actually saw one guy sitting in the dugout, in this series, briefly stick his finger up his nose. Not that any of those things aren’t inherently human, just the timing for that 3 second shot can be incredible…

    Comment by shelldigger — November 5, 2016 @ 5:32 am | Reply

  5. Congrats to Chicago and to the Cubs! My solution for watching the games was to play Miles Davis and watch with no sound. Much better for mind and heart. I will say that having A-Rod and Rose anywhere near baseball is rather bleak. Nice rant, Steve.

    Comment by Zach — November 5, 2016 @ 2:49 pm | Reply

    • Cool Jazz with cool baseball … cool! We used to turn off the TV sound and turn on the radio … but we no longer own a radio, except the one in the car and it wouldn’t fit in the living room.

      S

      On Sat, Nov 5, 2016 at 2:49 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Comment by Steve Ruis — November 5, 2016 @ 10:04 pm | Reply


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