Friday, April 9, 2010

Of Bart and baseball


A couple of quick hitters on a Friday afternoon:

After being the center of an abortion-funding controversy during debate on the new health-care reform law, Rep. Bart Stupak has decided to call it quits. The Michigan Democrat was being targeted by teabaggers who were spending plenty of time and money in an effort to oust him come November. The AP reports that three little-known Republicans are on the ballot for Stupak’s seat, along with an anti-abortion Democrat who planned to challenge the congressman in the Democratic primary. Stupak said the teabaggers had nothing to do with his decision. He says he's just tired of the travel involved with the job. The funny thing is, the whole abortion hysteria that Stupak was at the center of was really a non-issue that was whipped up by health-care reform opponents. It was much like the non-existent “death panels” that a certain village idiot screeched about. I don't think Stupak's retirement is any great loss for our country, but you never know what the people of his district might get in his place. Could be a great statesman or stateswoman. Chances are it won’t be.

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Major league umpire Joe West was probably out of line for doing what he did, but baseball fans everywhere most likely agreed with his statement that the length of baseball games is ridiculous. In an interview with the Bergen Record in New Jersey, West ripped into the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox over the slow pace of play in their season-opening series. He called it a “disgrace to baseball.” And he’s right. Anyone who watches baseball regularly has to be frustrated by pitchers who wander around the mound licking their fingers and then wiping them on their trousers repeatedly, adjusting their caps six or eight times and then shaking off their catcher until said catcher has to come out and have a personal conversation with the hurler. And sometimes that's just to get one pitch thrown. The batters are no better. After almost every pitch, they step out of the batter’s box and adjust their protective cups, their helmets, their batting gloves, their shoes, their uniform shirts, their pants, etc., etc., etc. The powers that be in baseball have said they want to shorten games, but they apparently won't give the umpires the backing to crack down on these delays, or they're not demanding that the umpires do so. As retired player Curt Schilling noted, the umps also could go a long way in helping to shorten games if they'd just simply call more strikes. If you know what the rules say about the strike zone, you also know that not a single umpire in Major League Baseball adheres to it. Every ump seems to have his own personal conception of what a strike zone entails. Some won't call "high strikes." Some won't call "low strikes." Others won't call an "inside strike" but will give the pitcher a strike call on a ball that remains six inches off the outside part of home plate. If the umpires started calling strikes in the zone laid out in the rule book, there would be a lot more swinging of bats and a lot fewer full counts. And a lot faster games.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the current raft of politicos who, rather than face up to defending what they've stood for all these years, opt to bow out of the upcoming elections. Great example for all of us.

April 12, 2010 at 5:06 PM  
Anonymous Joe Tuscano said...

Stepping out of the batter's box takes up a lot of unnecessary time. Pitchers stare in for days trying to get a sign or freezing a batter. It drives me crazy that World Series games not only start late at night but normally don't end until midnight.

Joe West is right.

April 12, 2010 at 9:39 PM  

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