- - Tuesday, August 20, 2013


It was a good run. But for America, it is now officially over.

We survived abhorrent British taxation. We survived savage attacks from Indians on the frontier. And we survived the Civil War. We survived all of that only to voluntarily give it all up in this, the easiest of times.

No, I am not talking about making a mockery of our “nation of laws” by granting amnesty to 12 million illegal immigrants, most of whom bravely risked their lives to come here precisely because we are a nation of laws.

Nor am I talking about the staggering debts we have piled up so high that we have no realistic hope that even our grandchildren might one day pay them off.

Nor am I talking about this pernicious plot by the federal government to take over our health care system so that the last few Americans who can still afford to pay taxes will be on the hook for everybody else’s poor health choices and crappy eating habits.

No, I am talking about Major League Baseball’s decision to invoke video replay on virtually all calls made during the game. This means close calls at first, disputed infield fly rules and whether the outfielder catches the ball or not. By castrating the umpires on the field, the league is destroying the sport.

Football has become all about the thuggery of human violence. Hockey is all about the fights among the Slavic snaggle-tooths. NASCAR has always been all about the fiery wrecks.

But baseball is the last of unspoiled American goodness on a large, popular scale. It is the final redoubt that remains free from the litigiousness, whining and nanny hand-wringing that has sapped the joy and good out of just about everything else. I mean, the local rodeo clown cannot even pull off one little goofy stunt without launching a national outcry over invented racism.

Baseball is still a game where players must play inside official rules, but also police themselves with a higher code of conduct. A plunk-for-a-plunk is some pretty Old Testament punishment these days.

It is not a game where official rules must be constantly tightened to combat “excessive celebration.” There is actual humility among the players that makes you think they really mean it when they cross themselves.

Currently, there is no whining in baseball. Sure, you get a bad call and you can kick up some dust and complain. And maybe in all your righteousness, you keep kicking dust until you get thrown out of the game. But usually, you shut up, settle down, take your hit, walk it off and get back to the business of winning.

None of this exists without the peerless authority of the umpires on the field. Sure they blow some calls but those are just the unfairnesses in life that must be overcome, not fixated upon.

It is why learning about baseball teaches a child about so much more than baseball. If the child gets baseball and can see the larger good despite the little injustices, then the child will be just fine in this life.

By infecting the baseball with an official avenue for appealing an umpire’s call to some higher authority, the league institutionalizes the posture of grievance for all players and every manager. And the creepy fact that this higher authority will be huddled in some faraway office in New York City totally corrupts the sanctity of the stadium.

The game will pause and the crowd will wait for divine word from Oz while the shiftless eunuchs stand around savoring one more humiliation.

Charles Hurt can be reached at charleshurt@live.com or on Twitter @charleshurt.

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