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“Comedy” gone bad - baseball writer edition

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A stupid premise executed poorly

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Folks, I’ll be straight with you. I have a nine and a half hour drive early tomorrow and I don’t want to do any serious baseball analysis that will keep up me up, so I’m going to do something a little different. You see, there was an article published on something called the Albany Herald written by an old man who traveled through time from 1975. Carlton - an old man name if there ever was one - wanted to “answer ladies questions about baseball.” Not a great start with the headline here.

I have not read the article yet. I saw the uproar and didn’t see any value in reading it. Until now. So I can trash it. I assume this is “for comedy” and am fully expecting jokes that were outdated when The Dick Van Dyke Show aired. I’m not sure how long it is, so I’m not necessarily going word-for-word but I’m definitely including the relevant parts. I’m not going to give this site page clicks beyond my own, so you’ll have to find the article on your own if you’re that invested. Hopefully, you don’t feel the need and you’ll get the gist from this.

Having not read the article yet, it’s hilarious that it begins with a long paragraph from the editor, with the editor evidently being Carlton himself. The opening paragraph is unobjectionable, talking about how you get so caught up in wins and losses, you forget to appreciate the little nuances that make the game special.

“For those folks, here’s a suggestion: Watch it with a female person who either doesn’t particularly care about the game or, better yet, watch it with a female person who not only doesn’t particularly care about the game but also knows nothing about it.”

Regarding saying female person instead of, you know, women, it is addressed in the editor’s note: “which is not a swipe at women, incidentally, but an attempt to poke fun at the care with which we refer to gender these days.” Well, an attempt is the accurate phrase for that “joke.” Watching the game with someone - man or woman - who knows nothing about the game but is actually interested can be funny, although it does get annoying real fast if you’re not prepared to answer 500 questions.

(By the way, if that female person is willing to sit through a game that she cares and/or knows little or nothing about — without complaining, mind you — she might just be a keeper. And, guys, it wouldn’t hurt you to repay the favor by watching some kind of Chick Flick or dumb reality show with her, either of which might put you off your dinner. Just a friendly suggestion from a guy who understands the fairer sex about as well as quantum physics.)

Jesus. Alright. If you gave me the premise of this piece, told me to write my best parody of it, and I wrote that paragraph, I’d erase it because I was going too over the top. And again, I’m sure he’s attempting humor here, but this wasn’t funny in 1970. Probably. I’m not that old. So he presents some questions that women, sorry “female persons,” (which just gets more cringeworthy and unfunny every time I read it and he wrote that A LOT) might ask a man about the game.

QUESTION: Eww ... why are the players always spitting?

While I’m skeptical this is a common thing he is asked, my answer would be “just cause they can.” And hilariously in an article meant to “educate” women, he has this gem of a paragraph following his answer.

(Side note for ladies who want to impress their dude: Ask him if he knows about the “spitball.” Players don’t utilize the nasty tactic these days (why, I don’t know), but there was a time when pitchers would saliva up the ball before every pitch to make it do things that would avoid hitters’ bats. It was fun watching umpires try to catch them at the unsavory tactic.)

That time was 1920, when they officially banned the spitball. Though Gaylord Perry famously avoided detection for years en route to a Hall of Fame career. Anyway, nobody throws the spitball because it’s very illegal and with modern technology, it would be impossible to hide it for more than a game.

QUESTION: Why do players pat each other on the butt all the time? Is there some kind of homo-erotic element of the game that we don’t know about?

As Sir Mix-a-Lot so aptly told us back in the day, guys like butts. (Sir Mix, big ones, but that’s his thing.) Since it is not, though, a good idea to express that sentiment or, worse yet, act on it in the everyday workplace, especially if your co-worker happens to be a female, guys just settle for a lesser thrill and do this with other guys on the ball field. For some reason, women don’t appreciate a good butt-pat and “good job” when they close an account or complete a delicate operation successfully. So guys just pat each others’ butts and move on.

This is a strange answer. It’s not that deep. You don’t need to go Sigmund Freud and psychoanalyze this. Players aren’t slapping other players’ butts “because they like butts,” it’s just like a high five or a fist bump.

QUESTION: Is that a wad of chewing tobacco in that guy’s mouth?

A woman as supposedly clueless as this fictional woman would not say this. “What’s in his mouth?” or “What’s he chewing?” Maybe chewing tobacco is more popular than I’m giving it credit for, but I’m not sure my first assumption would be “chewing tobacco” if it was my first time watching baseball.

QUESTION: Who are all those non-athletic-looking little dudes in street clothes who walk out to the mound with managers and coaches or talk with reporters after the game?

DON’T YOU DARE TALK ABOUT EUGENE LIKE THAT, YOU SON OF A BITCH. NON-ATHLETIC HAVE YOU LOOKED IN THE MIR- Sorry got carried away. But seriously, this is the first question that someone has actually asked me, though not in a few years. And the Eugene I’m referencing - it’s always better to have to explain a joke I know - was reliever Seung Hwan Oh’s translator while he was a Cardinals. I’m not sure of his whereabouts now. I hope he’s doing good.

QUESTIONS: Why are the players always adjusting their junk?

Again, I’m really skeptical these are common questions here. I’m sure this woman can put two and two together and figure out why he’s adjusting his junk. He’s uncomfortable and wants it in a more comfortable position. Obviously.

So, there you go, ladies. You now know the answer to all the questions about baseball you’ve wondered about but have avoided asking your man. You’re welcome. And, as an answer to your final question: No, neither I, your guy nor any other fan can get you Dansby Swanson’s or Freddie Freeman’s phone numbers.

Yeesh. Alright for starters, nobody knows more about baseball after having read this than they did before, so I don’t know why you’re saying “you’re welcome.” Congrats, you answered some of the least essential things to know about baseball in order to enjoy and understand the sport.

My sister doesn’t follow baseball and gets the basics of the sport but occasionally will bombard me with questions, but most of them amount to “Who’s this guy” and “Is he good?” She’ll ask about a stat if they post it. She’ll comment that Michael Wacha is gross now, I’ll say he’s not having a good season, and she’ll blame that. She’s more familiar with Jim Edmonds the tabloid fixture than Jim Edmonds the player and she’s not a fan. Look, my sister isn’t breaking any stereotypes here, but she’s still asking smarter questions than the ones posed by this writer.

Who is the target audience here? It’s not for women. To quote fellow VEB writer Heather on a post two years ago “Yet, despite our love for the game, despite the financial incentive to include us, women are constantly treated like outsiders. And that is a shame.” And that’s what this post is doing.