PC Propaganda Drills Another Tunnel Into Popular Culture

Every four yeas, baseball attempts to stage its own Olympics.  The display is grandiosely advertised as the World Baseball Classic.  The WBC is now gearing up for its fourth (I think) tiresome go-round.  The sense of a creepy PC mind-game so strongly pervades its packaging that I can never liberate myself to enjoy what’s happening on the field.

To begin with, this bizarre theatrical event is no more a classic than Kwanza is an African holiday.  What meaning of the word is applicable here?  Do the participants wear woolen uniforms and stirrup sox?  Do the gloves resemble oven mitts and the hats a British sportsman’s cap?  Can marketers simply wave their magic wand and turn something “classic”, dribbling gilded nostalgia-dust over the smoking transformation?
And why the pretense that all the nations of the world are participating equally?  Does the MLB send its All Stars to play, or the team that prevails in its World Series (admittedly a presumptuous name, as well)?  Doesn’t American baseball, rather, send its players all over the world to represent Venezuela or Italy or Australia?

And are these expatriate stars, then, no longer American citizens during their month or so of participation?  Some of them, indeed, have never become legal citizens—a very, very few.  Most are living out a fantasy of belonging to the land from which their fathers were happy to escape.  Is Francisco (not Francesco) Cervelli of the Pittsburgh Pirates really an Italian for a few weeks just because his father emigrated from Italy? Would Honus “The Flying Dutchman” Wagner have played for Germany… or would he have smacked you for slurring his American citizenship?

Are you in some sense more Irish than American because your great-grandpa set sail from Valencia Island?  By the same reasoning, I suppose quondam Cincinnati player Cesar Geronimo would have been eligible to play for China since the progenitors of Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait.

Is this yet another occasion for members of the American entertainment fraternity to remind themselves—or the rest of us—that nobody actually came from here, and that even our baseball wouldn’t amount to squat if it weren’t for immigration?

But if that’s the message, then why are black ballplayers like Didi Gregorius playing for European nations like the Netherlands?  To be sure, Gregorius was born in that pocket-nation and even speaks Dutch; but he’s of African extraction by way of Curaçao.  If the merely geographical accident of residence cannot trump tribal ties to nation of ethnic origin, then why not take the next little step and demand racial purity of the teams based on settlement patterns of the past millennium?

What a wonderful “feel good” moment for the world that would be: Nordic whites against Sub-Saharan blacks, Mongol against Han Chinese, Native American battling Spanish conquistador, Japanese versus Slav… just what we need at this delicate moment in world history!

With all the incoherence typical of postmodernism, the WBC is apparently striving to promote “inclusion”—and the only way it can do so is by reiterating division.  After all, we have to be made aware of our differences in order that loftier minds may persuade us to put them aside.

This is all bunk, garbage, folderol, inanity, nannyist manipulation, and vapid bombast.  Yes, there’s a place for international baseball. I have argued for years that the MLB should hold out the lucrative prospect of a Major League franchise to Juarez, just to see if the Mexican government might clean up that killing field and try producing some good jobs for its citizens on its own turf for a change.  And the Olympic idea has some small degree of merit (though less all the time, with all the money and corruption involved). It’s probably good that the world’s bickering populations should engage in sports: the rivalry relieves tensions that might otherwise erupt into war.  But I don’t understand what’s to be gained by dismantling the teams of the nation that created baseball—and continues to play it at much the highest level—so that said nation may be ritually humiliated at regular intervals in its own game by the likes of Japan and South Korea.  If this isn’t yet another exercise in self-hatred, what is it?

Maybe the MLB elite should just content themselves with forcing all players to wear the transgender bathroom logo on the sleeve of their uni.

The Seventies: Little Determination, No Focus

Perhaps the second most famous World Series homerun of all time (after Bobby Thompson’s Shot Heard Round the World) is Carlton Fisk’s extra-inning walk-off in Game 6 of the 1975 match between the Red Sox and the Reds. I gave my son a DVD collection containing all seven games several years ago. (The Red Sox, of course, found a way to blow the series.) He never watched any of it. His generation doesn’t particularly care about the past, in regard to baseball or anything else. We live in a time of instant irrelevance, when the latest gismo is outdated before the paint dries on it. What the heck—who even watches DVD’s any more!

So, with his having escaped us to attend college a thousand miles away, I finally decided to watch my son’s collection surreptitiously all by myself. It proved interesting in numerous ways that rather surprised me. Never mind that the intricate camera angles and immediate rerunning of every play so routine to us now are absent: I’m ignoring the technical angles here. I don’t even really want to dwell on the umpiring, which was incredibly poor at moments. (It always is, even today. At least then, umpires appeared to put up with a lot of guff without tossing guys out. Our modern prima donnas would have suspended and fined everybody on both sides by the end of the second game, even though—with replay and almost routine appeals—they murder fewer calls.) What I have in mind is the quality of actual play. Atavist that I am, I’d like to testify that those boys of yesteryear would have tied today’s ripped, tattooed, arrogant studs into granny knots on the field… but I just can’t get there. It’s not true. I will hasten to add that Cobb and Speaker and Collins—or Mays and Mantle and Williams—probably could send our boys home whimpering with their tails between their legs. In other words, I do not find it plausible to say categorically that we have gotten better and better. What I’m saying is that the players of the Seventies were disturbingly weak in skills, taken as a whole. The ’75 Series was supposed to have been one of the best ever staged… but it was a close affair largely because two matching mediocrities had a hard time getting and keeping the upper hand one over the other.

Now, Pete Rose was what ballplayers call a professional hitter. I’d pause to watch one of his at-bats if I were running from a tornado. Same for Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench. It’s fun to watch guys like that make adjustments and respond to situations. But most of the others… the Red Sox, in particular, were unhinged whirlybirds (speaking of tornadoes). Carl Yastrzemski must have gotten most of his 3,000 hits by sucking the ball into the vacuum created behind his furious barrel. Fred Lynn couldn’t keep his foot out of the bucket or his helmet out of the on-deck circle… and Cecil Cooper should carry an R rating: unsuitable for impressionable young boys to watch. Fisk—he of the Homerun—seemed the most in control of his AB’s, along with no-names Denny Doyle and Rick Burleson.

I grew curious, and went to the record books. How were other guys making out in the mid-Seventies? Pretty much the same. Up and down the standings, teams might have ONE hitter at .295 or above and ONE slugger with 25 or more homeruns. Otherwise… definitive mediocrity. In the American League, the second-place Orioles boasted of a single starter (Ken Singleton) who reached .300, and another loner (Don Baylor) who landed exactly upon 25 four-baggers. Cellar-dwelling teams Milwaukee and Detroit had no everyday players batting in the .290’s and one a piece reaching 25 homers—Willie Horton on the button and George Scott sailing past the mark to lead the league with 36.

The Scott achievement is indicative of another trend. Even abysmal teams tended to have perhaps one standout. Rod Carew was a batting champ for the miserable Twins with a celestial .359 average. The National League’s top hitter was Bill Madlock at .354—but the Cubs were next-to-last in their division, and only one other Chicago teammate with regular at-bats managed to squeak above .300. The three worst teams in the Western Division featured just one starter above .300: Bob Watson, who was comfortably above at .324. They could claim not a single slugger who had topped 25 homers. An aging Willie McCovey had struggled to 23.

If the pitching in 1975 had been overpowering, then the crop of outliers would have been much thinner. A superstar like Mike Schmidt would raise no brows after homering 38 times… but a gigantic strikeout machine like Dave Kingman would never have been allowed to log 36. Carew and Madlock collected multiple batting crowns at astronomical percentages… but how does Ed Kranepool hit .323 if the Year of the Pitcher had returned?

What I’m seeing in the stats is what I saw everywhere in life as I came of age in the Seventies. Most people were goofing off, phoning it in—having their own version of a good time without putting too much thought into it. The few who had survived the Sixties with an intact work ethic proceeded to sparkle like the Evening Star. For others, the overhang of their shaggy hair and the flair in their low-waisted trousers were of as much importance as anything else in life. Visions were narrow and hampered by blunt hedonism. Egos were large and unfed by real accomplishment. If you were paid big bucks, it was because you swaggered along the sidewalk like John Travolta looking for action on Saturday night and had a garish chain flaming from your three-inch, wide-open collar: it wasn’t because you had to produce any labor beyond being your cosmofabulous self.

If this sounds like our own time in many respects… well, say hello to the parents of today’s thirty-somethings. We’ve used up all the more conventional varieties of drugs and sex, however, and are looking with famished pants for something with a stronger buzz. We’re less namby-pamby and more into blood sport. As athletes, we play warthog-crazy rather than poppy-field high (like Bernie Carbo, who was wasted wacky when he clubbed the game-tying homer that set the stage for Fisk’s clout). I certainly won’t say that we’re any better morally. But, you know… at least we seem to crave something out of life. Something that the next twenty-four hours can’t satisfy.

I didn’t see much of that in the Seventies.