Friday, October 7, 2016

Cal Ripken Was Right, Oddly Enough



Last night's ALDS Game 1 between the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox featured a somewhat odd play. Cleveland's Lonnie Chisenhall slid into second base, beat the throw, and was called safe. The Red Sox challenged the play because they thought Chisenhall came off second base while Xander Bogaerts was still applying a tag. The play was overturned on review because the Red Sox were right -- Chisenhall popped off the base for a couple of seconds.

This led Ernie Johnson, TBS play-by-play man who is normally the guy sitting between Kenny Smith and Shaq, to discuss the role of replay in baseball (I can't find the video of this, unfortunately). He said that replay should not be used this situation because, in real time, the umpire could never have made the call that Chisenhall wasn't on the base. Ron Darling, Ernie's booth mate, agreed. But Cal Ripken, who plays the role of weird sideline reporter/color commentator, and says the most boring and obvious things all the time, vehemently disagreed. He said that runners should have to keep contact with the bag the entire way through, and that it was right for Chisenhall to be called out. They went back and forth for a surprising amount of time about this. MLB Network Radio even put out a Twitter poll asking which side people agreed with (Cal's side won 51% of 237 votes -- a tight one!).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

On Football and Falling Out of Love

We’ve long known football breaks bodies. We now know football breaks brains. The sport is violently athletic and viscerally fast, traits that have an unfortunate multiplier effect when combined with chemically altered behemoths smashing into one another dozens of times per game. The game is pure, uncut American id – soaring fighter jets overhead and handsome quarterbacks who break down the defense and get the girls, men being men like back in the days when men were men (only now with more slightly more dancing!). It’s the State of Nature goofily reflected through a game with an oblong ball and non-guaranteed contracts. Unfortunately, the career (and life) of a standard football player is equally Hobbesian – solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.