Shortly before my father died, and a little more than a year before she did, my mother made a series of jaw-dropping statements in a conversation with me and Dad. “You mean to tell me that I could wake up one morning, feeling fine, and then just drop dead later that same day?”
My father actually did a Danny Thomas spit-take with his coke.
“What??” said my father, who saw this occur to a lot of people during the war. “Of course! We’re over 80! It can happen any second! It always can happen any second! People die, every day, for no reason, suddenly, stupidly all the time!”
“Well, I just refuse to accept that!” said my mother, who really did think that she had a right to live forever.
For some reason Mom came to mind when I read that the National Baseball Congress had decided that it will not use bat boys or bat girls for the remainder of its World Series games in Wichita following the death of 9-year-old Kaiser Carlile. The bat boy for the Liberal (Kansas) Bee Jays died Sunday, a day after a freak accident in which the boy was struck in the head by the swing of a player warming up near the on-deck circle. Though he was wearing a helmet and was immediately treated by home plate umpire Mark Goldfeder, a paramedic, the injuries inflicted by the bat proved fatal.
Some baseball ethics musings on the night of the All-Star Game:
1. Why is MLB going ahead with letting Pete Rose take a bow at the All-Star Game? This made sense–barely–when it was announced, since Pete is a hometown hero despite being a rest-of-the-world slime-ball. But after that announcement, it was revealed that Rose had bet on baseball as a player, thus rendering all of his statements to the contrary the lies they were. He should have been banned from the game just to make sure this latest revelation of his sliminess adds something to his punishment.
2. The best ethics controversy of the 2015 season’s first half? This: Washington National pitcher Max Scherzer was one strike away from a perfect game, leading the Pirates in a 6-0 win, but hit Jose Tabata with a pitch to make it “only” an-hitter. A perfect game is 27 consecutive, outs, and the most difficult feat in baseball. Tabata had fouled off four pitches, before he was hit on the elbow. Many believed that he that Tabata allowed the ball to hit him intentionally, just to wreck the masterpiece. This violates one of the “unwritten rules” of baseball, which are ethics rules. After all, any perfect game could be ruined the same way, and the pitcher is powerless to stop it. This is correctly deemed to be unfair to the pitcher, the fans, and the game.
Real rules also are involved. A batter hit by a pitch is supposed to be awarded first base only if he attempts to avoid a pitch or doesn’t have an opportunity to avoid it. If the ball is in the strike zone when it hits the batter, it should be called a strike, according to the Rule Book: “If the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.” (Rule 6.08(b).)
Thus home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski could have awarded Tabata a ball to make it a 3-2 count if he felt Tabata should have gotten out of the way.
Sports Illustrated tweeted out the above image and message that linked to a story by “Extra Mustard.” That masterpiece noted that
Senator John McCain attended Tuesday night’s Dodgers–Diamondbacks game and had a chance to grab a souvenir in the seventh inning.Dodgers’ shortstop Jimmy Rollins fouled a ball over the backstop that went bouncing into the lap of the senior senator from Arizona, but McCain couldn’t get his hands on the ball. But McCain deserves a break from critics: As you can see the ball was approaching from a very awkward angle. Still, this photo from Dodgers photographer Jon SooHoo does not make the former presidential candidate look particularly athletic.
Apparently neither the reporter nor any of his/her/its editors were aware that McCain has extremely limited use of his arms as a result of being tortured as a North Vietnam prisoner of war. Both arms were broken by his captors and left untreated for so long that he was permanently handicapped, as anyone who watched even a little bit of his 2008 campaign for President could hardly fail to notice. McCain is also 78 years old, not that respect for seniors who have spent their lives in public service could be expected to be a factor in SI’s commentary.
Would any of the magazine’s staff attending a game dare to openly mock a disabled serviceman who didn’t catch a foul ball? Probably not, since the likelihood of some fans of the National Pastime taking offense and throwing a beer in their smug, ignorant faces would be a real risk. Ah, but from the safety of an office in New York City and hiding behind a pseudonym—of course, Extra Mustard might be the jerk’s real name, I suppose—it’s easy to insult an elderly U.S. Senator, military veteran and war hero for the consequences of the wounds he sustained in the service of his nation.
Eventually SI was tipped off to its error, and it quietly removed the last sentence. No apology, of course. Such is the historical, cultural, political and ethical ignorance of a substantial portion of our national media.
The one-handed foul ball catch made by Chicago Cubs fan Keith Hartley was all over the web and cable TV yesterday. If you missed it, here it is:
Nice catch. Of course, it interfered with the ball in play, keeping Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from making the catch. In most circumstances, Hartley would have been thrown out of the game.
That’s the least that should have been done to him. He endangered his son—twice.
How quickly people forget that a fan in Boston is still recovering from a near fatal encounter with a shard from a broken bat that sailed into the stands during a game at Fenway Park, causing many baseball-hating pundits to call for netting to protect fans at field level. (This is how the Barn Door Fallacy works, after all.) I hate the idea of the netting, but there is no question that the seats near the action can be perilous. I once had access to season tickets by the visiting team on-deck circle at Baltimore’s old Memorial Stadium, and foul balls were whizzing by my head several times a game. I’m talking about line drives, not pop-ups, like the one Hartley caught.
To be blunt, his baby could have been killed. Continue reading
The story is here.
To summarize for those new to this story and its various issues:
Because the 1919 World Series fixing scandal nearly toppled the sport, any player, manager or coach who bets on baseball games will be automatically banned from the game for life and from the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame for perpetuity. Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader as a player and a certain Hall of Fame admittee under normal circumstances, was shown to have bet on baseball while a manager, after his playing career. For many years he lied, denying that this was true, then came clean in time to hawk his autobiography.
Rose has always had a lot of sympathy from fans and players, in part because he was such an exciting player, in part because he played with the innocent enthusiasm of a child and he is a child, at least emotionally, and mostly because it was believed, since Rose insisted that it was true—yes, I know that sounds strange, given Rose’s record of serial dishonesty—that he never gambled on baseball while he was a player.
This season, public sentiment had been building to finally pronounce Rose forgiven. He had even progressed to the stage that some advertisers were using him in TV commercials. Baseball has a new Commissioner, and he had signaled that he would give Rose’s long-standing and ignored petition for reinstatement due consideration.
All of that is gone now, presumably forever.
Some last thoughts on Rose, as with any luck this is the last occasion I will have to write about him: Continue reading
The newspaper is the East Oregonian of Pendleton, Oregon. The subject of the headline was not, in fact, an amphibious pitcher, nor, as the photo above was labeled in its file, an amphibian pitcher, which really would have been a story. No, it referred to ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, who was brought up from the minors by the Oakland Athletics last week, and who, while pitching against the Boston Red Sox (I saw the game on TV) made baseball history by becoming the first big league pitcher to record an out as a left-handed pitcher and a right-handed pitcher in the same inning. In case you are wondering, the age-old question of what happens if a switch-hitter faces a switch-pitcher was answered quickly. Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart, came up to bat right-handed, then switched to batting left-handed because Venditte was then pitching right-handed. Venditte responded by switching his glove (it has two thumbs) from his left hand to his right to throw left-handed, and that’s how the situation stayed. Both batter and pitcher can switch once before the at bat is underway.
But I digress.
As for the headline, I won’t blame the reporter (he used the correct word in the story), but the headline writer, editor and anyone else on staff who saw the page before it was printed and distributed needs to find a line of work that doesn’t require English, writing, the conveyance of information, or common sense.
Pointer: The Sporting News