Class Warfare Blog

November 25, 2019

No Respect for Goliath

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 10:11 am
Tags: , ,

I was watching an NBA game the other day, one involving the Dallas Mavericks, specifically so I could watch their new star, 20-year old Luka Dončić from Slovenia. I was not disappointed. He is not only really, really good but he is a likable young man also.

He doesn’t, however bear any responsibility for the comments of those broadcasting the game. They used visuals to show that only three players had averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds in their first seasons. None of the three was Wilt Chamberlain.

For the record—in Wilt’s Rookie season, 1959-60 he averaged 37.6 points per game and 27 rebounds per game. To show that was not a fluke Wilt averaged 38.4 points and 27.2 rebounds per game the next season and then in 1961-62 he averaged 50.4 points and grabbed 25.7 rebounds per game. Many of these are still all-time records, as is the 55 rebounds he grabbed in one game. (Bill Russell claims he had the best seat in the house to observe this performance, so this wasn’t some stat put up against a lame opponent.) Now a great many people will say that that was a different era, which is was, but along with the positive attributes there were negatives. In that incredible 1961-62 season it wasn’t as if they weren’t trying to stop Wilt—he lead the league in free throws shot. As just one example consider this quote “Half the fouls against him were hard fouls … he took the most brutal pounding of any player ever.” That was from Boston Celtic Tom Heinsohn, one of Wilt’s most fierce competitors, with regard to an NBA Finals series.

So, why the disrespect? Chamberlain said himself, that “no one roots for Goliath” even though he was not the largest player in the league by any measure (but was most likely the strongest ever to play).

Dončić is a 6´ 7ʺ guard-forward and his numbers are quite extraordinary, but commentators should know better than to claim that only three people had better numbers for some stretch without mentioning Wilt.

Nobody had better numbers than Wilt, except for free throw percentage. Wilt even led the league in assists one year. Wilt had 30.1 points per game, 22.9 rebounds per game and played 45.8 minutes (out of 48) per game for his entire 15-year career! No other player could come close to his endurance, nor could they even try out of fear of breaking down (load management my ass).

If you are going to quote US professional basketball statistics, always, always, always start with the most prolific player in NBA history. Have some respect.

October 30, 2019

WTF? (World Series Version)

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 8:42 pm
Tags: , ,

I have been listening to, watching, or following in the news the World Series of Major League Baseball (MLB) for about 65 years. Setting aside the misnomer of calling an American national tournament the “World” Series, there are basic views of these contests currently being shredded.

Most obviously, the concept of “home field advantage” is being ridiculed. The so-called home field advantage is that the team playing in their home stadium has an advantage. The advantage is substantial. The “home team” bats last and the team with the most runs after nine innings (five minimally but rain sometimes truncates games) wins. So, no matter what the visiting team does, the home team has “last licks” and a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. If the home team is ahead after eight and a half innings, they don’t even have to play the bottom of the ninth inning; they just win.

In addition, the home team is more intimately aware of the quirks of their ball field (all MLB fields are unique and all have quirks for which there are lists of official “ground rules” that only apply at those stadia), players and coaches get to sleep and eat at home. The home team’s locker room is often quite lavish and the visiting team’s room is often a dump. And the home team isn’t jet-lagged from travel or getting kinked up from sleeping on poor beds or eating poor food or. . . .

The home field advantage is so substantial that teams struggle mightily to acquire it through the quality of their record. MLB, to great uproar, thought that giving the league that won the All-Star Game the home team status in that year’s World Series. Purists were outraged, that such a valuable thing, such as home field advantage, would be awarded based upon the outcome of an exhibition game, and not upon the records of the teams playing in the Series. The practice of alternating years between leagues to receive the advantage was considered more fair in assigning home field advantage, than that travesty.

So, explain to me why in this year’s World Series, between the Washington, D.C. Nationals and the Houston Astros, the home team has lost every game of the six played so far. WTF?

I can remember chatter between series announcers discussing what happened to the home field advantage as the series advanced. If the home team lost a game, the advantage switched to the other team as a majority of the remaining games were played on the other team’s field or at least those games were played first. The usual pattern was 2-3-2, although others were tried, with the team with the advantage getting the first two games and the last two games at their field. If the team with the advantage lost either of the first two games, then the other team could win the series (it takes four wins) at their home stadium by winning all of those “home” games. So, the minimal goal for the visiting team was to win one of the first two games and “steal” the home field advantage. If this were to happen the team which had lost the advantage then had a goal of winning at least one of the next games and “stealing” the advantage back. This was a tried and true discussion topic for every World Series I can remember . . . until lately.

So, when the Nationals beat the Astros on their field . . . twice to start the Series, some commenters said “This Series is over.” implying that their advantage was now too great to overcome. Then the Nationals lost all three of their home games. Amazing.

Currently there seems to be no discussion of home field advantage at all. I wonder what has changed. Have modern athletes with modern training and modern diets overcome this basic advantage? I don’t think so, statistics still show the better teams win more games “at home” than they do “on the road.” That is the basic manifestation of the home field advantage. If I had the energy I could do a study to see if home and away records of teams have changed much over the years.

This is one of the joys of baseball, that there are statistics available going back centuries. This is one of the pains of baseball, that there are statistics available going back centuries.

Thus ends my annual baseball post.

~30~

June 9, 2019

There Is Just One Way Out

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 1:34 pm
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Welcome to the Sunday Baseball Sermon! It is baseball season and I just can’t help myself, but I will hold in my enthusiasm to just one or two posts.

A Crisis in Popularity
You are probably aware that baseball used to be called “America’s Pastime” because it was by far the most popular sport in the land. Not any more. In fact, baseball’s TV ratings have been dropping for a number of years now. A major problem identified by Major League Baseball (MLB) as a cause of this is that games are longer than ever before. I remember games in my youth which involved pitchers who worked fast and pitched the whole game that lasted an hour and a half. An average game back then involved two hours and a bit. Now an average game lasts almost four hours.

MLB is considering a number of innovations to deal with this. One is a pitch clock, with a restrictions on how many seconds a pitcher has to make a pitch. (Damned dawdling pitchers.) One is to require batters to stay in the batters box. (Damned hitters are stepping out after each pitch and fiddle with their batting gloves. ban the damned gloves!) Another involves extra inning games with one suggestion being to have each team be given a runner on second base in each half inning, to act as an icebreaker.

The problem with all of these “innovations” is that they disrupt the basic structure of the game. Baseball is an intellectual spectator sport tat has been around for over a century and there are records (oh, my there are records) that are discussed ad nauseum. I can wax poetic about all of the things going on defensively in any inning. There are nuances galore, like first basemen who chat up base runners in the hope that it will disrupt their concentration, and various forms of trash talk. There is a great deal of things to focus on between pitches, there are just too many damned pitches.

Here is What I Think has Happened
The bloated games we see today are a result of the number of pitches thrown, in effect the length of any game seems directly proportional to the number of pitches thrown. (Technically, if a pitcher through a single pitch to each batter that they hit a feeble popup or ground ball on, they could get the 27 outs need to make an ordinary game in just 27 pitches. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen.) Batters are walking and striking out at unprecedented rates and walks and strikeouts require a great many pitches to be thrown. In the old days, pitchers threw the ball over the plate (or close enough) and if the batter didn’t swing at those pitches he would be “grabbing some pine” very quickly (baseball slang for returning to the bench, even though they are no longer made of wood). So, why don’t pitchers throw more strikes?

It all started to come apart with the Steroid Era. Granted the home run title competition between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa in 1998 saved baseball from a self-imposed perdition (strikes/lockouts/lost seasons aka labor disputes) but we now know that many of these performers were performing under the influence of anabolic steroids, a performance enhance drug not banned by baseball but illegal to self-administer. No pitcher likes to see his pitches crushed out of the ball park, so pitchers got cautious and a number of them started taking steroids themselves. When this issue was eventually sleuthed out and dealt with there was a bit of a power vacuum for a while. Not as many home runs were being hit and not as many pitchers were “unhittable.”

The next phase involved “swing path” changes by the hitters. Seeing a salary premium placed upon power hitting, hitters did a few things. First they changed the angles of their swings to a more upward path. (We were taught in my youth to swing “level.”) The other part was to swing for the fences, no matter the situation. (We were taught to swing away, but when you got two strikes, you were to choke up on the bat and try to put the ball “in play.”) The problem with this approach was that swinging really hard all of the time resulted in more home runs, yes, but more swings and misses, too. So, strikeouts, which used to be problematic (too many of which shamed a batter) became more frequent. Home runs became more frequent, so pitchers became more cautious and walks, aka “bases on balls,” became more frequent, too.

Pitchers didn’t stand pat in the post Steroid Era, however, they actually upped the ante and threw harder. There are more pitchers now capable of throwing 100 mph pitches than ever before. But if you are going to throw that fast, accuracy suffers and walks increase again.

Managers wouldn’t be left out of this, either. Since every damned batter in the lineup was capable of hitting the ball out of the park, starting pitches got pulled earlier and earlier. The constraints are that a pitcher has to complete five innings to qualify as a winning pitcher (and few would want to play for a manager who would not allow them to win games by pulling them earlier in the games) and by about the sixth inning, pitchers will have pitched to each batter at least twice. (At three outs per inning, batters are guaranteed one “at bat” through the first three innings and two at bats through the sixth. But, the effectiveness of most pitchers dips significantly the “third time through the batting order,” so managers are inclined to forestall any problems by bringing in a new pitcher for the seventh inning. We now have specialist pitchers for the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings, for Pete’s sake. (The first specialist “relief pitcher” was in 1948 if I remember right. Prior to that point, all pitchers were “starters,” and if one faltered, they were replaced by one of the others, one not scheduled to start for the next three days any way.)

Specialist relief pitchers have become beasts. Unlike starting pitchers who have to be able to throw pitches for five innings (more is better, of course). These relievers are out there for just one inning, and sometimes just for one batter. This means they can hump up and use all of their energy on just a few pitches. In the old days, pitchers got tired in the later innings and you might be able to “get to them” if you hadn’t before. Pitchers often threw 150-200 pitches in a game, but now when they hit the 100 pitch mark, the manager’s hook comes out and they are soon to exit the game. (Have I mentioned that pitching changes take time?)

So, what to do about this? There have been various “tweaks” made. When the pitchers got the upper hand in the 1960’s, they lowered the pitchers mound. They had “adjusted” the size of the strike zone a number of times, etc. These things worked, somewhat, but obviously not enough.

There is One Way out of this Mess, However

Deaden the ball.

If the ball was just a bit harder to hit far, there would be fewer home runs hit, pitchers would throw over the plate more, etc.

Now some purists will argue that it would change the game, invalidate records, etc. I remind them there is something in MLB called the “Dead Ball Era.” Baseballs were “livened up” considerably, thus changing the game and making Babe Ruth possible. Also, what about all of the records set in the Steroid Era? Are those valid?

I think deadening the baseball . . . just a bit . . . makes more sense than reducing the number of strikes need for a strike out to two (and balls for a walk to three) or having a pitch clock (Baseball is the only major sport with no game clock!), or requiring relief pitchers to throw to at least three batters, or any of the other “innovations” that have been proposed.

And . . . for those you who think I have beaten this subject to death, consider that the upper part of the strike zone had ceased being called for strikes, causing batters to become low ball hitters, which requires an upward swing path and . . . this is now bringing back the high strike. . . .  Oh, and did I mention how modern sports technology is helping batters and pitchers to do these things with video analysis, bat speed indicators, radar guns for pitchers, etc?

July 31, 2018

Respect the Football!

A question came up on Quora recently that is indicative of a great many similar questions and discussions. Here it is:

Why do some liberals think it’s okay for black athletes to disrespect the flag (think about the soldiers that died fighting for our country)? Yes, I get that racism still exists, but a (American) football game is not the time.

So, the points being made here are … uh, umm … well that soldiers fight for the flag? WTF! That’s not true. Most combat soldiers fight for one of two reasons: to protect their buddies in arms or they fight for “their country.” I have never heard of any soldier who fought for the flag, either literally or figuratively.

Kneeling, what the players were doing, is disrespect? Is this true in church? If so, the Catholics, for one, are going to be in deep doo doo. Imagine disrespecting god … in a church! As a research project, I would like to know who was the first person to rule that civilians needed to stand and take their hats off during the playing of the national anthem. Soldiers I can see, civilians … I wonder.

And the football players are not kneeling for the flag. The flag is flying before they kneel and after. They are kneeling during the anthem and the anthem is a song.

And, whoaaaaa, an American football game is not the place or the time to discuss or address racism. Really? Hmmm, 70% of the players are Black or Hispanic, 100% of the owners are wealthy and White. Seems like the perfect place to discuss racism.

Look, I can resolve this whole issue simply.

Before the playing of the national anthem, post the following message on the message board and have it read over the loudspeakers. Ahem … “The NFL, <team owner’s name>, and the <team name> bring you to your attention that Black Americans face police brutality and prejudice and racism almost every day. We urge you to work in your community to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly and without prejudice by their community’s police.”

Then play the anthem. Not a single player will kneel.

Ta da!

Note That was all the players were trying to do with their “protest.” What they received from it was a face full more of racism and authority deliberate mischaracterization of their motives and not a single ounce f understanding and acknowledgement. Can anyone tell me what disrespecting “the flag” or “the troops” means or would be motivated by? The mischaracterization is easily seen as being motivated by racism and politics and little else.

April 26, 2018

Consequences of 24 Hour “News” Cycles

Filed under: Politics,Sports,The News — Steve Ruis @ 8:28 am
Tags: , , ,

I will start with a comment about sports reporting. Yesterday, the Cleveland Cavaliers won a game in dramatic fashion over the Indiana Pacers in the NBA playoffs (basketball). The Cavaliers now have a 3-2 advantage in a best of seven series. One more win and they move on to the second round of playoffs. The other team goes home with a “better luck next year” wreath. All of the yada, yada, yada surrounding the game, though, shows a lack of appreciation for the basic situation.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were supposed to win that game and should be described as being very lucky that they did not lose it. At the end of the “regular” season, the top eight teams are placed onto a playoff grid based upon their won-lost records. Then the first ranked team plays the eighth-ranked team, the second-ranked and the seventh-ranked teams play, etc. So, an advantage is built in for the better teams in that they are given weaker opponents (at least initially). Additional advantages are given to the higher ranked team in that four of the seven games are scheduled to be played in their home stadiums, with the first two games being played on their home turf, giving them the ability to get a “good start” to the series. This is the basis of what is called the “home field advantage” or “home court advantage.”

The team with the advantage gets to play at a site in which they get to sleep in their own beds, eat home-cooked meals, drive their own cars, practice in their own practice facility and compete on a field/court with which they are more familiar than anyone else. (The Boston Celtics old home court, the infamous Boston Gardens, was so irregular that a ball dribbled from one end to the other would not make the same sound on any two bounces. The floor had dead spots, live spots, unlevel spots, you name it. It was never repaired because the Celtics players knew what to expect everywhere on that court, but their opponents did not. Why give away such an advantage?)

The “visiting” team had none of those advantages. They sleep in hotel beds, eat restaurant food, practice in unfamiliar surroundings and compete at a disadvantage on the opponent’s favorite court.

And then there are the fans. The word “fan” is short for fanatic and there are stories that would curl your hair about what fans will do to give their team a further advantage. I leave that topic up to your own research.

In a seven game series in basketball or baseball, the home field advantage is significant. Teams are compared on their records “home” v. “away.” Good teams almost always have a better record at home rather than in other venues. This is due to the “home court advantage.”

So, the “home team” is supposed to win! Cleveland was supposed to win that game last night as it was in their home arena and had every advantage in doing so. Cleveland is the higher-ranked team. Cleveland is supposed to win their series. That they had to struggle so heroically on their home court to win a game they were supposed to win is not a good sign. Instead the focus is on how brilliant their star was, how well he performed, how he won the game for them.

So, why are these things not emphasized as they were in my youth?

I think it is a consequence of the 24-hour news cycle. If you turn on a TV at any hour, you can find sports programming. When I was young, that was not the case. (When I was young, there was nothing on TV from 12 midnight to 6 AM; all you would get was “snow,” the visual noise of your TV trying to process no signal at all.) The sheer volume of reportage has increased many fold. For example, the first NFL Super Bowl had a 15-minute introductory show. Currently, every NFL game during the ordinary season has two to three hours of introductory material, provided by multiple channels! The Super Bowl is hyped for two weeks, almost nonstop. This is typical of modern sports reporting.

And with that much time to fill, you cannot just repeat the basic parameters of a series. So, those basic “truths” get diluted, diluted, and diluted some more. And what do they get diluted with? Necessarily, they are diluted with less important details. For example, human interest stories abound … now. What impact do these have upon the outcome of the game being covered? Answer: none.

The “basic truths” of sports competitions are being buried in oceans of irrelevancies.

We can also fault the shallowness of the reporting. Whenever the Olympics comes around, we are inundated with stories of Olympians, of how at a young age they decided to “go for the gold” and then we are shown “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” in all of its drama. Why, at no point, do these reports put things in perspectives? Why do they not point out that a huge majority of those with “Olympic Dreams” did not even make their teams and are nowhere to be seen? Why do they not point out the unfairness of the competitions staged to make the teams and the myriad of other political issues surrounding those sports. They will point out Olympic organizing committee corruption because it is now part of the genre, but little else of what goes on behind the scenes is shown. Oh, and cheating gets reported, somewhat.

So, this is a bit of the impact of the 24-hour news cycle on sports reporting.

My whole purpose in laying this out is to ask: “What is the impact of the 24-hour news cycle on political reporting?” Instead of sports reporting in which nothing is really at stake, in politics lives and livelihoods are at stake. There are real consequences in the political arena. What basic truths are being buried in irrelevant details? Could a politician, latch onto this as a modus operandi, and bury us in irrelevant details to hide what is really going on? Deliberately feed “The Beast” (the reporting media) what they like to eat and to hell with the public’s need to know. The salacious sells, so the heck with in-depth economics reporting or business reporting.

Could somebody do this?

Yes, his name is Donald Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

April 9, 2018

Patrick Reed: Master’s Champion … From a Broken Home … WTF?

A professional golfer by the name of Patrick Reed won the prestigious Masters Golf Tournament yesterday, a major breakthrough in his career. To celebrate this achievement a number of “news” sources decided to run stories about how Mr. Reed is estranged from his immediate family. Apparently he and his wife and wife’s family are quite at odds with Mr. Reed’s family.

And I have to ask: what the fuck does that have to do with Reed winning the most important golf tournament of his professional career? None of these stories was looking for the motivation that drives Patrick Reed to professional excellence. In fact neither of the stories explained the rift in his family. This is a huge invasion of privacy. What if there was a family betrayal of Mr. Reed? Would anyone be served by making that public? What if Mr. Reed is an atheist and has been disowned by his Christian family (or vice versa)? Is anyone one served by such a revelation?

One article even brought up allegations of him cheating while playing college golf, of course none of these allegations were proved.

What are these articles but cheap gossip, possibly published to tar Mr. Reed’s accomplishment. As I read these pieces with a growing sense of outrage, I kept looking for the point of these articles, something other than an interest in the salacious details of someone’s private life. I found none.

Just because someone is celebrated for athletic achievements, doesn’t mean we are allowed access to their private lives. This does not come under the public’s right to know that is so bandied about. This might have been different if Mr. Reed took some sort of political stance involving family values or its ilk, but I have seen no evidence of that.

I think hit pieces run like this need right next to the “Like” button a “Fuck You, Asshole, Mind Your Own Business” button.

November 2, 2017

Probably of Interest Only to Chicago Sports Fans

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 9:47 am
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Newsflash The 49ers just traded a second round draft pick in next year’s draft to get the New England Patriots back-up quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. You know Jimmy Garoppolo, who last season posted a stellar 117.0 rating while completing 70 percent of his passes and throwing four touchdowns without a single interception. He led New England to an opening night win over Arizona on the road before pushing the team to a 24-3 halftime lead against Miami. He exited that game with a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder.

The Chicago Bears last year cashed in their third overall (First Round!) pick and the Bears’ third- and fourth-round selections, Nos. 67 and 111, and a third-round pick next year (aka this year) in order to acquire rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who has started four games for the Bears this year and has played like a rookie. How much value Mr. Trubisky will have is still quite debatable because he played just one year in college for a notable basketball school.

Mr. Garoppolo has been tutored by the Patriots and been able to observe and learn from Tom Brady, who is probably the best quarterback of a generation, if not of all time.

The Bears paid a first round pick, two thirds, and a fourth for Mr. Trubisky. The 49ers paid one second round pick for Mr. Garoppolo.

At what point does the quality of the Bear’s management come into question?

October 26, 2017

Okay, People, Listen Up

Filed under: Sports,The News — Steve Ruis @ 10:32 am
Tags:

I am more than a little sick of the round the clock hyping of sporting events. Every damned Monday Night Football game has a longer pre-game show than the first forty Super Bowls did, for example

I wakened this morning to this sports headline:

World Series: Astros save season in wildly dramatic Game 2 win over Dodgers!

Save season …, WTF?!

Idiots, I am surrounded by idiots.

The World Series is just that, a series of games. The team which entered the playoffs with the better won-loss record has what is called home field advantage. In this case, the Dodgers had the home field advantage because four of the possible seven games were scheduled to be played at their stadium and only three of the seven scheduled for the Astros home stadium.

It is called the home field advantage because the team that plays half of their games in that stadium during the regular season, the home team, the team which considers that stadium their home, tends to win those games more often than not. This is because: they get to sleep in their own beds, eat home cooking rather than restaurant cooking, they don’t have to sit in an airplane seat for five hours the day before a game, they get to play on a field they are more familiar with than any other field (they know all of the subtleties, quirks, and oddities about “their” field). Not only that but American League pitchers don’t normally hit in their lineup; National League pitchers do, so every ninth batter on the American League team has had virtually no practice hitting major league pitching. That is part of the home field advantage for National League teams. (In American League parks and games, the National League looks at the ability to basically pinch hit for their pitcher, using the same pinch hitter over and over, to be a major benefit, so that lessens the home field advantage for the American League teams.)

The home team has the advantage over the other team when the games are played on their home field. (That’s why it is called the …) Get it?

In the previous series, the Astros lead off winning the first two games … at home. Then the games switched to the Yankees’ home stadium and the Yankees won the next three games … at home. Then the Astros won the next two games, becoming American League Champions and winning the right to go to the World Series … at home.

Get it? It is called home field advantage for many, many reasons.

Every school boy when I was growing up knew that a series couldn’t end until Game 7 or at least the “away team” won a game in the other guy’s park.

Every school boy when I was growing up knew that the team without the home field advantage had the goal of winning one of the first two games because … wait for it … wait for it … then they would have the home field advantage. The current series is tied 1-1, but now the Astros have three games scheduled to be played in their home park, but the Dodgers only have two of such games left (they played two of their four already).

So, now the Astros are “in control,” or “in the catbird’s set,” or “one up on the Dodgers,” but if they had lost Game 2 in Dodger’s Park, well, that would have been normal, just like it was in the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

So, “Astros Save Season?” WTF?

Could these news companies please get some headline writers who understand baseball … please? At least get someone who is over 25 and didn’t grow up playing video games all of the time. They don’t have to have played baseball, but at least understand it … that would be nice.

 

October 13, 2017

Just Sayin’ (This Time It is Post-season Baseball … Again)

Filed under: Sports — Steve Ruis @ 1:09 pm
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This post-season we have both Jose Altuve (5 feet 6 inches tall) the shortest MLB player and Aaron Judge (6 feet 7 inches tall) the next to the tallest MLB player and their ghosted in strike zones on the TV are roughly the same size (all such zones having a fixed width but height adjusted to the height of the batter). I still think that on their best days this service appears to be run by an intern touching a light pen on a tablet display near where he thinks the ball crossed the plate and on their worst days, it appears they replaced the intern with a chimpanzee. I wish they would just turn off the distracting, inaccurate thing!

And while I am grousing here, they need to find some directors who love baseball. They frequently show a sequence of the pitcher’s face, then the batter’s, then the pitcher’s face again, then the batter and then snap out to a “normal” centerfield shot which shows the pitcher, batter, catcher, and umpire (then they cut to someone in the dugout, well their face anyway, and …). Why they are doing this I do not know. Do they believe the eyes of the pitcher and batter are windows into their souls? It is strange and they are missing the game at the same time. The infield has shifted to match the batter’s “spray pattern;” do they show that? No. The first baseman is inching in suspecting a possible bunt; do they show that? No. The pitcher throws to the first baseman while the runner is standing on the base; do they explain that? No. “The pitcher throws to first” is the comment. Hey, television is a visual medium, we can see that …. it …. just …. happened! This is not radio in which the action needs to be described. Why did the pitcher throw over when there was no chance in hell of “picking off” the base runner? There are reasons. He might have just been checking his pick off throw. If he hadn’t made one from that mound, or made one in quite a while, it is best to try an easy one, a rehearsal, before trying a harder one. He may have been lulling the base runner into thinking that weak ass throw was his “A Move” to first base, when he actually has a much quicker and better move in his repertoire. And there are other reasons.

Baseball is a sport declining in popularity … on TV, but with still strong attendance in ball parks. When are they going to wake up to the fact that their incredibly lame TV coverage might be due part of the blame.

September 14, 2017

Racism is as American as Baseball

Filed under: Culture,Race,Sports — Steve Ruis @ 10:53 am
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Some baseball fans unfurled a banner with the above printed on it at last night’s Red Sox baseball game. Of course they were ejected … for telling the truth. (Actually there is a team policy forbidding “signs of any kind to be hung or affixed to the ballpark,” but I was feeling snarky writing this.)

Actually I believe this statement is true but baseball may show us the way forward. Baseball had a racist past. Early on, people of color played but soon enough, Backs and Hispanics were banned from the professional game. (There were still plenty of “colored” baseball players, but they usually were relegated to playing on and against teams made up of just Black and Brown players in front of Black and Brown audiences.)

In 1942, as almost everyone knows, the “color barrier” in white, major league baseball was broken by Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey. Robinson, the player, took the abuse on the field while Rickey, the schemer behind the effort, took the abuse from other baseball executives and from fans in his mail.

Many brave actions were taken by players supporting members of their own team and many despicable actions were taken by players not supporting members of their own team but eventually everything was sorted out. I saw my first major league professional game in 1958 and by then there were quite a number of Black and Brown players. What I did not know was that even my team, the S.F. Giants, had a self-segregated clubhouse. The Blacks kept to themselves, the Hispanic players kept to themselves, and the whites kept to themselves, mostly.

Fast forward to now and you see major league teams in which Black, Brown, and White players mingle, enjoy each other’s company off of the field, support one another when they have family issues, etc. It isn’t a perfect world, but it is far, far better than where it began.

Sports teams, in general, have embraced Rodney King’s plea of “Can’t we all just get along?”

The U.S. is not the last bastion of racism. Racism is a live and well elsewhere around the world. But racism is a smear on a facade of a country claiming to be a better place, an exceptional place. It is time we address our racist past and our racist present and make ourselves an exception, rather than a manifestation of the rule.

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