MLB: The Struggle with Identity and Injury

It’s Spring Training and, once again, my beloved Texas Rangers are at risk of of starting off the season damaged and in a weakened state with the possibility of our expensive ace pitcher, Yu Darvish, in need of the dreaded Tommy John surgery. A surgery that can lay a pitcher out for anywhere from six months to a year. A trend that is seemingly unavoidable with pitchers nowadays with an average 18.6 pitchers per year going under the knife since 2000, has led to questions wide and far regarding player safety and health from pitch counts to inning limits even talk of lowering the mound to reduce strain on the elbow.

Simultaneously, Major League Baseball (MLB) has been struggling to retain a young audience with an average fan age of 55 (the only sport with an older fan base is golf) according to an April 2014 Bloomberg report. The MLB has been attempting to speed up the game to address the complaint that games are too long and too slow. In talking with some of my non-baseball-watching-friends, they have continually expressed how there are flat out too many games.

Which brings me to my thesis. Baseball needs to shorten the season to 81 games. Cut it in half. Play every other day. There is no need for back to back games and people get tired of watching baseball games by the All-Star break. Here is why a shortened and spread out season will help MLB’s players and draw in a younger crowd:

  1. Playing less games means less strain on the players who play during the hottest months of the year. Rest will keep your pitching arms fresh, batting back’s strong, catcher’s knees limber. With a healthy roster, each team will be able to field a better team which makes it more interesting to watch.
  2. With a spread out season, pitchers will get more rest than ever. This means we won’t need more than 4 or 5 starting pitchers. Each of the best pitchers throws once a week. It will always be a show down between good teams and their best pitchers. This also means a better bullpen, better closers, and all around better games.
  3. The emphasis will be on the week long series and making sure to win each one to insure a place in the playoffs. each series becomes a bigger event and a loss is much more devastating. The reasons football is so popular is because it only has one game a week. It’s easy keep up with when most of us are off on Sundays and have the overwhelming feeling that each game matters. If the MLB put emphasis on how important each series is and how few there are, it would make for a more intriguing event where young people will not get worn out like they do on 162 games.

With this basic layout of a plan, we can solve the identity crisis which would drive ratings, attendance, and player health all at once. It’s highly unlikely that this will ever be the case. So in the meantime, enjoy the injury talks and seeing AAA ballplayers taking ace roles when they aren’t ready. Enjoy seeing teams take years to rebuild, as the Rangers seem to be stuck doing. Enjoy the lack of urgent competition that keeps the young people from thinking that each game is important. I try to stay a romantic tradtionalist when it comes to baseball, but the times have come to show that baseball has to evolve of watch its fan base die off of old age.

Train Wreck Theory: Why I Love a Lil’ Bit of Trashy TV

Before we get into this, I want to say that I do have a degree in English. I am educated. I do read. In fact, I have a job that forces me to use my brain daily to hope that a foundation will give our programs money. With that being said, I am not the typical demographic for trashy reality TV, but it is an addiction.

I don’t go all out and watch Real Housewives of (Insert geographical region). It isn’t all that I watch, but I come from the generation that grew up watching Real World and saw Reality TV peak with the overly dramatic Jersey Shore. Now, I cannot turn away from the even more troublesome Party Down South.

I know how bad this is. The show is as awful as the people that star on it. They are misogynistic, under-educated, binge drinking, functioning alcoholics who treat each other like crap. The men treat women like objects to be conquered and they are encouraged by the females who encourage the disgusting behaviors. The women parade around in their underwear or bikinis, vomiting up an entire weeks worth of alcohol, fighting over guys, and sleeping with each other on camera. We could go on and on about how awful this show is (and all of the subsequent sequels that may come up), but that’s been done.

What I love about PDS and other shows like it is what some call would call the “Train Wreck Theory.” This theory is simple to follow, if something is so terrible, yet you can’t look away, it’s due to the Train Wreck Theory (AKA Rubbernecking Syndrome). I cannot stop watching these shows because, in my mind,  I cannot imagine it getting any worse, but somehow they find a way to impress me every single week and by impress, I mean completely lose all hope for humanity.

Watching immature narcissists binge drink their way into D list celebrity stardom is the only rational way to close out a long work week. Let’s face it. By Thursday night, all of our brains are mush. Picking up a book after getting chewed out by your boss for a looming deadline that is out of your control seems like a chore. Honestly, I just want to turn my brain off and watch something that helps remind me that I made some good choices in life.

I want to see them crash and burn. The TV knows what I want to see. I want to see drunken debauchery that I will never again experience. I want to see the drama that I left behind in college. That self-involved and self-destructive behavior that leaves a path of destruction in it’s wake. These TV shows are like a tornado that rips through a town and gives it a bad name. Furniture gets destroyed, people get injured, at some point everyone is in the bathroom crying for it all to end, and, of course, someone is there to videotape it all for my viewing pleasure.

It’s all bad, I know that. But so is the sun, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, red meat…you name it. That doesn’t stop people from doing those. Judge me all you want. This is some low quality, trashy television and I’m 100% OK with it.

It’s OK Leo, the Oscars Are For Losers

This Sunday, America will gather around the TV for yet another angering award show where the statues never go to the person who we think deserves it. While everyone will be shouting that Boyhood or American Sniper got shafted, I’ll be remembering all of the great movies that we all know and love that never got an Academy Award.

Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction (1994) both lost to Forest Gump. First, let’s take a moment to appreciate what a great year that was for movies. Second, let’s ask ourselves if getting snubbed by the Academy has changed our opinions of the classic films. It doesn’t. I would find it hard to believe that the number of awards a film receive has ever hindered someone’s opinion of a film. Does anyone think, “Well, Shawshank didn’t get the Best Picture, so it sucks.” My bet is in the short history of film, no one has ever thought that.

The Shining never even got a nod, yet it is still, by many experts, one of the best horror films. Hell, Stanley Kubrick was nominated for a Razzie for this movie, an award given to the worst in film.

We put so much weight on the Academy Awards for about a day and after it is over, we all throw up our hands and say, “Oh well.”

There is a long list of great actors that have never received an Academy Award. Leonardo DiCaprio, of course, is one of them, but so is Bill Murray. Does that make Ghostbusters any less funny? Does that mean that we aren’t going to watched Scrooged this Christmas season? Of course not.

These award shows mean next to nothing. They are there to remind us that we know nothing when it comes to film and cinema. At least, that’s what they want us to think.