Monday, July 28, 2008

Something Old

I've been meaning for a while to post some of the pieces I wrote as a commentator for college radio. This one was written in April of 2007. It has some references to it being April of 2007, but don't let that distract you. Anyway, it's pretty silly.

T-Ball? More like Commie Ball

Well, it’s April (once again, that's 2007 - author), and spring is here, and that can only mean one thing – yes, TV shows are new again until the end of the season! Lost, The Office, Gilmore Girls, a bunch of shows I don’t watch – all back until the middle of May. I can’t wait to see what happens on the island, at Dunder-Mifflin, in Stars Hollow. However, this piece doesn’t have anything to do with that, because spring is also baseball season. The MLB is in full swing, my friends. I’m sure Moises Alou, Reggie Jackson, Ted Williams and the whole gang are having a swell time hitting balls, shagging flies and running bases.

However, I’m not here to talk about them either, or even about the MLB. At a lower level, kids all across the country are getting ready for summer baseball, which should start up shortly after the season finale of Lost. There’s an organization for boys of every age – Legion for high schoolers, named after a team of DC Comics superheroes; Babe Ruth for junior high boys, named after that guy Benny Rodriguez dreams about in The Sandlot; and Little League for upper elementary kids, named after Little Luth, the mascot of the National Lutheran Youth Convention.

Well, based on the fact that I’m turning their names into terrible pop-culture references, it’s probably obvious by now that I’m not actually too interested in any of these levels of baseball. What I am interested in, however, is the lowest level of organized baseball play – Tee ball, for ages 6 through 8. T-ball isn’t regular baseball, of course, as it modifies the game in a number of ways, theoretically to make it easier for young children to play. Unfortunately, it has a much more negative effect in practice. Easier? Maybe, but certainly far more Soviet-esque.

Yes, friends – tee ball mirrors the threat of international communism in a number of ways, starting with the title figure – the “tee” itself. Similar to a golf tee, but much larger, it allows every player to hit the ball with little or no effort. Much like Stalin’s infamous Five-Year-Plan, this gives the appearance that everyone is skilled and productive. Even the bad kids can hit the ball nearly every time. This, of course, gives them a sense of false confidence, allowing them to think they’ll be able to beat the US to the moon. When they find out later in life that this isn’t true, they’ll only be disappointed.

This spread-the-wealth mentality continues in the structure of every inning. Rather than having three outs per team per inning (or four, or seven or any other number), tee ball allows every player on both teams to bat every single inning. On the surface, of course, this also appears to give everyone an equal chance. Each boy gets a chance and everyone is happy. In reality, of course, it just puts the teams at the mercy of the governmental structure. Like the Berlin Wall, the much-bally-hooed “Laaaaast Batterrrrr!” signals a split between innings that can not be moved.

Finally, at the end of every tee ball game, both teams are always told that they won, and well. In the history of the sport, no team has ever scored less than 30 runs and no opponent has scored more than 5. Just as Stalin told the people of Russia that they were leading the world in every conceivable area, these kids are told that they are unstoppable. This serves no purpose other than to tear them down when they lose at life, but this doesn’t matter to short-sighted Bolshevik coaches. They have only their immediate concerns in mind.

All I really mean to say is this – tee ball might seem like innocent fun, but every kid who plays it is going to grow up someday. They’ll remember the lessons they learned in tee ball, much better than the baseball skills. They’ll grow up to idolize Vladimir Lenin, not Vladimir Guerrero.

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