We Survived… A Wretched Use of American History In A Sport Column

photo courtesy of "A Little Bit of Change"
photo courtesy of “A Little Bit of Change”

Whether or not baseball goes to any expanded use of instant replay isn’t something that raises my ire one way or the other. What does raise my ire is when someone tosses out a bunch of nonsensical rhetoric based upon American history to make their muddled point.

The culprit in this abuse of American history was Charles Hurt.

The whole article haranguing MLB for expanding instant replay begins on a depressingly awful note. The title imagery cloaks itself in asinine Cold War era masculinity: THE NUCLEAR OPTION — America’s Tipping Point: The Impending Baseball Nanny State. This warmongering title is followed up by every Cold War warrior’s favorite masturbatory image… a fireball of nuclear war!

The Nuclear Option3That perspective that Hurt brings to his column is one of unrelenting savagery. But it’s unrelenting savagery that’s sugar-coated, unthinking bravado. As frightening as a fireball of nuclear war is, the aftermath is even more wretched and would make any sane person think twice (or a never) about callously and wantonly creating a recurring article called “The Nuclear Option.”

In reality, the Nuclear Option means death, destruction, cancer, suffering, and devastation. The opening photo to this here article is of Hiroshima after the Nuclear Option was visited upon that city. A Google image search of “Hiroshima after nuclear attack” reveals even more gut-wrenching photos of what a Nuclear Option actually means for humanity.

But moving beyond that horrific opening, there’s the actual substance, if you can call it that, of the article.

It’s filled with so much stereotypical “red-blooded American male” diatribe that I want to believe it’s a tongue-in-cheek post. But given its location in Andrew Breitbart’s orbit of nefarious rhetoric, we must trudge on to combat its vitriol point by despicable point…

We survived abhorrent British taxation. We survived savage attacks from Indians on the frontier. And we survived the Civil War. We survived all of that only to voluntarily give it all up in this, the easiest of times.

In addition to abhorrent taxes, colonists were also upset at the British Empire granting Catholic Quebec a modicum of self-government based on their Catholic beliefs and the restriction of settlers from squatting on Indian land. With the victorious Revolutionary War, American Europeans pushed ever deeper into American Indian land. The so-called “frontier” was the frontline of a hostile continent wide invasion, dislocation, and dismemberment of an entire race of people.

Aftermath of savage massacre by the US Army on unarmed Indians at Wounded Knee
Aftermath of savage massacre of Indians  by the US Army at Wounded Knee

Speaking of wholesale injustice against a whole race of people, amazing how Hurt can say “we survived the Civil War” without mentioning any actors in the bloody conflict. Indians are depicted as savages, the British as abhorrent, but the Civil War is brusquely mentioned as “survived.” Such quick treatment of the Civil War is typical of those who like to remember the conflict as an honorable and noble fight between honorable and noble men. To say that “we were freed by the Civil War” would point out the racist, slavery elephant in the room.

The savage Indian elephant has already been poached and mounted on the wall like an unfortunate buffalo.

No, I am not talking about making a mockery of our “nation of laws” by granting amnesty to 12 million illegal aliens, most of whom bravely risked their lives to come here precisely because we are a nation of laws.

This “nation of laws” made a mockery of itself with broken treaty after broken treaty with Indians. Whoops, I forgot, they were savage. Totally justified. But it’s also important to note that America, whatever the laws say, has almost always had an unquenchable thirst for cheap labor. Enslaved Indians and Africans, indentured European servants, Chinese railroad workers, imported Japanese field hands in Hawaii, Slavic foundry workers… you name the people, we’ve imported them to grease the wheels of our nation’s economy.

Nor am I talking about the staggering debts we have piled up so high that we have no realistic hope that even our grandchildren might one day pay them off.

And nor am I talking about this pernicious plot by the federal government to take over our healthcare system so that the last few Americans who can still afford to pay taxes will be on the hook for everybody else’s poor health choices and crappy eating habits.

Oh goody! The “Americans who pay taxes have to carry everyone else around” logic. Of course, it doesn’t hold much water. Just about the only people in the antebellum South who paid taxes were slave owners. Needless to say, they weren’t exactly the paragons of personal responsibility as they violently demanded other men and women do their work for no pay.

Taxpayer getting person whose made "poor life choices" back to work
Taxpayer getting person whose made “poor life choices” back to work

However, the idea that all health problems are a result of poor personal health choices has more merit. Former NBA star and health nut Brian Grant totally made all the wrong decisions in life to develop Parkinson’s disease. Hold on one second, my eyes just rolled out of my head, I gotta pick them up off the floor…

No, I am talking about Major League Baseball’s decision to invoke video replay on virtually all calls made during the game. This means close calls at first, disputed infield fly rules, and whether the outfielder catches the ball or not. By castrating the umpires on the field, the league is destroying the sport.

Finally, he gets to the topic at hand. Oh wait, we’re sidetracked again by the basest appeals to hyper-masculinity. A legitimate chance to discuss the merits/demerits of replay gets lost when the notion of chopping off testicles gets brought up.

Football has become all about the thuggery of human violence. Hockey is all about the fights among the Slavic snaggle-tooths. NASCAR has always been all about the fiery wrecks.

But baseball is the last of unspoiled American goodness on a large, popular scale. It is the final redoubt that remains free from the litigiousness, whining, and nanny hand-wringing that has sapped the joy and good out of just about everything else. I mean, the local rodeo clown cannot even pull off one little goofy stunt without launching a national outcry over invented racism.

Wait, this… just… doesn’t… jibe… how can he in one breath denounce replay as violent castration and then the next denounce it as whining nannyism? But more importantly how can he call baseball “unspoiled”? This is the game that brought us Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds’ surly swollen head, and a pipeline of human exploitation from the Dominican Republic that would make the creepiest plutocrat green with envy.

Baseball is still a game where players must play inside official rules, but also police themselves with a higher code of conduct. A plunk-for-a-plunk is some pretty Old Testament punishment these days.

It is not a game where official rules must be constantly tightened to combat “excessive celebration.” There is actual humility among the players that makes you think they really mean it when they cross themselves.

Yes, there is actual humility in baseball just like there’s humility in all the other sports mentioned. And just like all those other sports baseball has churlish characters. Again, I direct you to Barry Bonds’ surely swollen head as evidentiary material. Or perhaps Ken Griffey, Jr. if you’re so inclined:

There's party in Griffey's mouth and everyone's invited!
There’s party in Griffey’s mouth and everyone’s invited!

Currently, there is no whining in baseball. Sure, you get a bad call and you can kick up some dust and complain. And maybe in all your righteousness, you keep kicking dust until you get thrown out of the game. But usually, you shut up, settle down, take your hit, walk it off, and get back to the business of winning.

Yes, out of all the sports, baseball is the one known for players and managers keeping their composure in the face of disagreeable calls.

None of this exists without the peerless authority of the umpires on the field. Sure, they blow some calls, but those are just the unfairnesses in life that must be overcome, not fixated upon.

It is why learning about baseball teaches a child about so much more than baseball. If the child gets baseball and can see the larger good despite the little injustices, then the child will be just fine in this life.

Hold up, I believe I have a translation ready and handy…

None of this exists without the peerless authority of wealthy white males. Sure, they mess up sometimes and suffer no larger social consequences, but those are just the unfairnesses in America that must be overcome, not fixated upon.

If the downtrodden minority gets this lesson and can see the larger good that the Political-Corporatist-Industrial Complex brings, despite the little injustices, then the minority will be just fine in America.

I think that’s his larger point.

By infecting baseball with an official avenue for appealing an umpire’s call to some higher authority, the league institutionalizes the posture of grievance for all players and every manager. And the creepy fact that this higher authority will be huddled in some faraway office in New York City totally corrupts the sanctity of the stadium.

Call me crazy, but I doubt this man likes the 14th Amendment and its guarantees that Americans in the individual states can appeal to a higher authority (federal government) when their rights are violated. Frankly, it’s ridiculous to not believe that every grievance should be heard. Realizing that it’s not practical is one thing, to actively work against such an ideal is an unfortunate turn of logic.

And as for the sanctity of the stadium: ain’t nothing sanctified about Political-Corporatist-Industrial Complex Ballpark.

I feel sanctified, especially after the air conditioning kicks in
I feel sanctified, especially after the air conditioning kicks in

The game will pause and the crowd will wait for divine word from Oz while the shiftless eunuchs stand around savoring one more humiliation.

Aaaaaaaand for good measure we get one last reminder of the need for hypermasculinity. You’d think in an article (ostensibly) about decision-making and logic, the brain would be the most worried about organ. Nope, it turns out it’s those testicles that allow for men to make split-second mistakes that everyone must live with.

Actually, there may be a good unintended point there… but I’m done for now until the next person invokes American history and society in a woebegotten sports column.

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