Yesterday our own Bradley Woodrum posted an article at The Hardball Times titled “The Physical Obstacle for Women in Baseball.” If you haven’t read it, you should, if only because I get $5 for each referral, plus a Woodrum Tote Bag for every 10. But here’s the larger point: I hereby submit that Woodrum’s piece is totally sexist! Why? Because it completely ignores the physical obstacles we men have faced in our pursuit of baseball greatness.
What follows is a partial list:
Adam: You know what the gospel says, right? – that he visited the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? But what the apocrypha says that he also visited the Tree of Knowledge of the Strike Zone. (One Old Testament observer put it this way: “He really knoweth the strike zone.”) That knowledge was put to the test one day when Eve, though tiring, continued to fire the ol’ apple just off the edge of the plate. Pitch after pitch, Adam refused to swing. He’d heard the adage – that you can’t walk your way out of Eden – but still he wouldn’t take the bat off his shoulder. Eventually his hit tool atrophied, and he was ashamed. Later, his plan to become a defensive specialist ended when he took a one-hopper to the fig leaf.
Plato: Smart guy, right? – mathematician, philosopher, inventor of a modeling compound used by children for art projects. But he sure wasn’t smart enough to overcome his Theory of Forms, by which he posited that the material world is not reality but only an image of reality, and which caused him to stand nonchalantly while taking a career-ending fastball to the ribs.
Marcus Aurelius, i.e., Marcvs Avrelivs: Another smart guy, right? – Stoic philosopher, Roman emperor, probably an ancestor of future college grad Rich Aurilia, i.e., Rich Avrilia. But he sure wasn’t smart enough to avoid being born in 121 B.C., a time when the Romans tried to reinvent everything – the wheel, the aqueduct, even “yourself,” the latter with positive Roman thinking and fresh Roman fruits – and when Abner Dovbleday was still hitting spherical sticks with cylindrical rocks and making puns about the “Roman Vmpire.”
Giordano Bruno: As much as anyone in the Dark Ages, the astronomer understood the movement of spheres – spheres such as planets, and stars, and probably desk globes, but also baseballs. An early proponent of both heliocentrism and pitch recognition, Bruno ran afoul of the Church when he proposed that a split-finger fastball actually has a downward rotation, this in contrast to the established doctrine that the air rotates around the ball. For his heresy he was burned at the stake, which caused him to miss a bunt sign.
Shakespeare: Have you ever tried to turn a double play while writing Othello? Me neither. But I have tried to go 4-6-3 while reminding myself to shoplift the Cliffs Notes. And I can tell you this: It is really quite difficult.
Napoleon: In efforts to prevent sign stealing, the French catcher developed the hand-in-waistcoat technique for which he later became famous. At first effective, the technique eventually caused his battery mates to throw only fastballs, seeing as how they couldn’t actually see the damn signs. Perhaps equally devastating, the Emperor also had difficulty throwing out base stealers.
Piet Mondrian: A pioneer of heat maps (pitcher’s viewpoint), the right-handed artist eventually grew too fond of middle-in fastballs. Like the future Alfonso Soriano, Mondrian would soon become susceptible to the low and outside slider.
Albert Einstein: Famed for both his haircut and his theory of general relativity, the scientist remained steadfast in a hitting approach that emphasized the fundamental curvature of spacetime. And thus did he swing, time after time, eight inches beneath the four-seamer.
John Paschal: Once a top prospect, Paschal got arrested for shoplifting.
He also got kicked by a mule.
John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.