Afternoon Baseball

Common-sense ruminations on baseball and culture.

Not so much resolutions, but things I think I've learned and maybe will apply:

1. Every baseball player is suspect.
That includes Cal Ripken Jr., the patron saint of the game. Honestly, should we really think his God-given fortitude got him through, alone, 2,632 consecutive games.

2. If we distrust all players, we're forced to choose one of two paths.
We can become disillusioned and abandon the game, or we can become slightly less disillusioned and accept the past for what it is. If we do that, we can move onto the real choice -- strict, no tolerance enforcement from now on or a free-for-all in which a non-substance user is simply cheating himself of his potential.

3. The writers strike is proving how much we don't necessarily need writers.
Hey, I know they are talented. But their heyday is past -- so much of TV is reruns or non-scripted programming that most people can adjust. And, with most programs running shorter seasons or canceled quickly because of lack of quality and/or viewership, there's just not as much new programming on as they'd like you to think.
Now, mind you, I'm not taking the side of the studios. I'm just saying that if they think the world is anything like 1988, the last major strike, they are tragically mistaken.

4. There's a lack of critical thinking in America today.
No one takes logic. No one takes philosophy. The list has other subjects not taken. Or, at least, taken seriously. Beyond abstractions and talk of dead white men, those topics show one how to apply past experiences to filter new ones, how to make judgments and intuitive leaps, and how to use the language properly, efficiently and powerfully.
There's two types of jobs in America (since manufacturing is dead): the rote mechanical duties of most service (such as learning which buttons to push and how to scoop fries) and the varied, ever-changing but built upon a solid foundation sector of creative work in all forms.
We're lacking in the second, and we're getting undercut financially in the first. Sometimes, the two areas merge, such as all the jobs involving technology, it's creation and editing and needs for customer service, being sent to India, among other places.
Is it young people's fault? Not necessarily. But there's something needing fixing in the education system, one where you needn't go to college -- and only certain ones -- in order to learn how to process one's mind in order to think critically about something.
And yes, I'm not showing much critical thinking in this thought above. But in my workplace, in my industry, I see the differences constantly. Maybe it's simply my line of work. But I'd be willing to bet it's not that simple.

5. Johan Santana has the pressure of the world upon him.
Whether he stays in Minnesota or goes somewhere, he is expected to be the best -- bar none -- in baseball for years to come. In an era where pitchers have no chance to dominate -- that is, unless they (allegedly) cheat or whiplash their bodies so much as to eventually destroy them (Pedro, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Roy Halladay, etc.) -- he's expected to be a throwback.
Good luck to him. No matter what he does, he'll probably be considered an expensive disappointment in some circles.

Just some thoughts.

1 Responses to “As the new year begins”

  1. # Anonymous bumfromjersey

    This certainly was an interesting post. Didn't know you wrote about topics outside of baseball and the occasional potpourri. Interesting.

    1. Lets widen the spectrum to beyond baseball. I think a lot of folks think most professional athletes have taken some sort of substance that was not allowed at some point in their career. In football, it would be more of a shock if they didn't than if they did.

    2. Two paths maybe but many different ways to travel along them and who is to say these paths do not intersect with each other from time to time? I distrust most baseball players, have become disillusioned but I won't be abandoning the game anytime soon. I am not accepting the past for what it was either. I am just not in that camp who wants to say, 'yeah it happened, lets move on.' Lets examine why it happened and how to prevent it from happening again. Sure a no tolerance policy should prevent it from happening but until we fully understand and appreciate why we need this policy in the first place, to institute new rules w/o an understanding of why we need to is a waste of time in my opinion.

    3. Yes, we need writers. Wait maybe we don't need writers but I need writers. Unless you are a fan of reality television, you miss quality programming like Heroes and Curb Your Enthusiasm. You do bring up some good points though especially about the shortened seasons. People really don't think they are missing much when there are only thirteen episodes in a season that are split over four months (and not even consecutive). You can't really miss something when you aren't given much to miss in the first place. I think it should also be mentioned that shows are much shorter than they were twenty years ago. There are too many ads. A thirty minute episode shouldn't have a third of the show dedicated to advertising. Lastly, overall viewership isn't down in my opinion. Rather there is a wider spectrum of media available to us. We can watch movies, tv, and listen to music online now. Most networks offer their programming online as well so we don't have to watch on a fix schedule anymore. Until Neilsen's can properly incorporate that data into their daily/weekly/seasonly/yearly reports I don't think we have a true accuracy of media viewership in this country.

    4.* Woah! Where did this come from? Anyway, I think this is more opinion than fact. I am not going to disagree with you that critical thinking skills are lacking in this country but I don't necessarily agree with you on how to critical think. Sure you can use logic and philosophy to analyze a piece of work but on the other side of the coin, one could say that isn't really critical thinking since you are using a predefined path to arrive at your answer. Nowhere have you used your own innate abilities to arrive at that answer, you used someone else's approach. Second, I would like to know how you are assessing this. For instance, I don't expect much critical thinking in the blogosphere because more often than not brevity and shock value are what most people want. To a lesser extent that can be said for print media as well. The reason why USA Today is one of the most popular papers in America is because their stories are brief and they try to incorporate graphics instead of words whenever they can. We live in a fast pace world and people want their news now. They don't want to take the time to read it, digest it, and then reflect on it.

    All that said, I would like to see a little more individualism in print media today. Everyone seems to take one or two stands on any given issue. The gray area does not seem to exist anymore. That is a shame.

    5. I definitely agree about Santana. All the discussion about him this winter has all been predicated on the expectation he will dominate for years to come. That is extremely hard for a pitcher to do these days.

    *Here is an after thought from point number 4. I don't expect formal rules of grammar to be enforced in the blogosphere either. I don't see much difference between a blog and an instant messaging conversation. Both take place in a laid back and informal setting so formality in any form is not necessary here. In print media though, formal rules should always be enforced.  

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