Posted in Sports by Richard Adams
Think of what it will be when they make distinct hitting and fielding teams. In the NFL some players used to play both offense and defense. George Will favors the designated hitter (AL rules); he's no conservative! See Men at Work.
The hero/statesman replaced by the bureaucrats/specialists: long relievers, middle relievers, left-handed short relivers, right-handed short relievers, etc.
I don't like the direction Ken suggests we're heading . . . (though it does lend support to the notion that baseball matches America's soul since we've all become so bureaucratized and specialized) but, then again, I've seen the problems over-use of a good pitcher can cause for that pitcher. And there's just something wrong about that, too. There ought to be a better balance between the good of the team and the good of the individual (whose good, after all, can't simply be separated from that of the team if rightly understood) . . .
There are competing interests at work on a baseball team between the good of the individual and the good of the team--but highlighting them and empowering the individual good apart from its relationship from the team seems to tend to point away from a good resolution between them. It shifts the argument to one of identity politics (another way baseball reflects the soul of America for good or ill). Hardening the rules governing these interactions tends to take the politics out of it --and this is no compliment to hard and fast rules (or the players they seek to protect)--as it infantilizes the participants and empowers the rule makers who, of course, tend generally to represent or work at the behest of some patron from one or another special interest. We never "take the politics" out of things when we try to do this . . . all we do is remove the politics from one set of hands to another and, in this case (as in American political life) the politics is removed from the ones it most directly affects.
There is an argument to be made that people cannot be self-governing (and, indeed, I think it is true that some can't) but when we remove the possibility of self-government (out of fear for what the weak-minded may do to themselves or others), we guarantee self-government can't take place and we change the character of the players and their would-be masters. I also dislike the designated hitter rule . . . another way of taking out some of the drama (and the politics) of the game and infatilizing the sport.
I think it has to do with the fact the players make so much more than in earlier era's. Now combined with the market baseball has where four or five teams compete and the other try to make money by fielding something like a AAAA minor league team. In other words they have too much invested in these guys to risk them in the often meaningless pursuit of winning a single game.
Or it could be that the ball players are like racehorses and just not bread the same way with all the training and "supplements" they can run faster and throw harder but lack the stamina to keep it up without injury....think the Belmont.
I don't think sports is like a government berueacracy, more like a corporation with expendable assets. The players are not heroes but assets to be exploited and protected depending on what the bottom line calls for.
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