Tag Archives: Baseball

What? Men Are Hugging Each Other?

Jordan Spieth Hugs His Caddy

Jordan Spieth Hugs His Caddy After Winning The John Deere Classic

I used to love baseball. Truth to tell, I still do though I seldom watch any longer. I haven’t since the World Series was cancelled in 1994 because of a labor dispute. I considered that act a stinging slap in the face of the very people whose money the players and owners were fighting over. It was also a blow to all the small vendors whose livelihood depended on the games played in the ballparks in which they labored. It was incredibly selfish in my judgement and I have yet to truly forgive the sport.

This post, however, isn’t about labor vs. management. Nor is it a discussion of the value of sports and entertainment. It’s about something a bit less dramatic but, perhaps, of more general and long-lasting significance. I’ll let you be the judge. I just want to share my thoughts, which come about after this week’s MLB All-Star game (the only baseball I’ve watched all season) and were additive to some I had at the end of the John Deere Classic golf tournament last weekend.

It’s actually a very simple observation, though it may have (I hope it has) tremendous significance historically and culturally. When I was a young man, it was unheard of for men to hug each other (with, perhaps, the exception of the swarm at the mound after a World Series victory). For the most part, men shook hands or slapped each other on the back. Later on, there was the high five, the chest bump, fist bump, etc. All of these were “manly”.

Lately, however, I’ve seen men hug after a victory or, in the case of baseball, even after a particularly important play. The hugs aren’t exactly what I would characterize as warm—as there’s still usually a little backslapping that goes along with them that, in my mind, signify assurance one is not being intimate—but they’re more frequent and less self-conscious. I’m of the opinion this is a good thing.

I think this is important, as well as reflective of a growing acceptance of homosexuality in our culture. I say this because I believe the reason men haven’t been able to hug comes from a deep-seating, acculturated fear of physical intimacy among men; fear that enjoying the sensual pleasure of a good hug somehow puts their masculinity into question. I find this fear a bit ridiculous, but I also believe it’s pervasive. I say ridiculous because, just as being gay is not something one chooses, neither is being straight. Therefore, enjoying a good hug with someone you like and whose company you enjoy and, especially, after an accomplishment you admire, does not mean you are suddenly changing your sexual orientation.

So it’s good to see men becoming more comfortable with hugging each other. I think it signifies a maturity that will, ultimately, result in unthinking and unconscious acceptance of our gay brothers and sisters and is another step on the road to accepting all our fellow human beings, even us atheists.

Steeerike threeee! Yer Out!

Blind Umpire

Is This How You See The Ump?

Last month, during the third game of the 2012 World Series, there was a pitch that was called as a third strike. Seconds after the call, which ended the at-bat for whichever team was up for that inning, there was a graphic shown of the strike zone and the location of the ball as it passed the plate. It was clearly outside the strike zone and, therefore, should not have been called a strike.

It got me thinking. We use technology to help us with a lot of things and it seems to me calling balls and strikes ought to be one of the things we consider using it for. I have no doubt the technology not only exists, but that it’s currently being used during baseball games. They showed the graphic and, frankly, inasmuch as they’ve been able to obtain the speed of the ball using radar for years, I see no reason they can’t use it to ascertain the exact track of the ball.

Now, I no longer watch much baseball. Ever since the game showed their disdain for their fans by canceling the 1994 World Series through the inability of the players and owners to reach an agreement on how they would divvy up the enormous sums of money they garner each season, I have determined not to be a contributor. Amazingly enough, I have managed to make it through most every season without paying attention and my life has continued rather nicely. I have, on occasion, attended a game or two in all these years, but only because I was invited and did not wish to ignore the generosity of someone whom I respect.

I have also watched many of the games in the World Series over the years, though not much lately. The one I watched this year was – I believe – the third game of the series between San Francisco and Detroit. It was the first game I had seen all year. Frankly, I’d rather watch golf; I’d actually rather play golf, but that’s another story. Besides, it’s difficult to play golf in the dark. I’ve heard Stevie Wonder does it. 🙂

Since I began writing this particular post, I’ve spoken to several friends who are baseball fans and asked them what they thought about the concept of using technology to replace the home plate umpire. Not one of them thought it a good idea. I’m not surprised. There is something to be said about the human factor in games involving humans. After all, if we could replace the umpire with a near-infallible robot, why not seek to replace the batter/runner with a robot capable of calculating the trajectory of the ball when pitched? That would suggest the possibility of a home run each at bat, obviating the need for fielders. Oy! Now my head hurts thinking about this.

I’m sorry I brought it up.

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