Monday, January 11, 2010

Politically Charged Baseball Fail

Charles Pierce, a great writer and curmudgeon, has recently joined the land of the blog. I couldn't be happier about that.

I'm wary though, mainly because the delight he gets in exposing idiotic, overly long treatises on How Baseball is Super Great and Better Than Other Sports Because It is an Expression of Right-Wing America's American Fantasy. I have to read something when Pierce is destroying its concepts so beautifully, but the link does come with a price to pay. Mainly, slogging through shitty, shitty writing about how great baseball is. (Pierce warned his readers, but I don't know he warned them strongly enough)

Sample sentence, purple as an eggplant, and just as smart: "Other evidence of the unbounded character of human aspiration in baseball is that the foul lines are not absolute."

Seriously, the author (Ann Schaub) is arguing that baseball represents so much more than other sports, and is representational of human character because foul balls can be caught for outs. That all that sentence leads to. Foul balls, being caught. That's a symbol of (AMERICAN) HUMANITY'S GREATNESS!

Another phrase that Pierce highlights is this one: "soccer is never psychologically demanding or politically formative in the way that baseball is." What?

Pierce points out that countries have gone to war over soccer, which is certainly more politically formative than anything baseball has done. However, I'd like to point out that soccer has also stopped a few wars, or at least brought about some cease-fires.

At first, I was thinking my life would be none the poorer had I never learned about Diane Schaub's "At the Bat". And here it was big time journalist Charles Pierce's fault that I read that article. I was going to demand some sort of compensation for having this thing inflicted upon me.

But the more I read of it, the more tempted I am to think of it as very clever satire; a hilariously constructed essay full of such over-the-top simplifications ("Football is to baseball as heavy metal or rap is to classical or jazz.") and unqualified and unquantified suppositions ("My strong hunch is that the declining interest and involvement in baseball is a consequence of the absence of fathers in the black community.") that it must be meant to have been funny. This re-imagining that I've attempted is not for the faint of heart. It is a difficult trick to pull off, and if you can't pull it off, you are left slogging through one long, stupid examination of baseball.

But really--you can find room in your heart to find this funny:

"There is no taking turns in other ball sports. Kids will naturally feed the ball to the best players or their friends; in other words, they adopt either the aristocratic or the oligarchic principle. Baseball's batting order is salutary in that it insists upon and demonstrates just how difficult democracy is."

"Enjoy," if you dare.

1 comment:

Andrew Wice said...

I wipe my ass.