Inspiration Comes in Manny Forms

By: Emma Baccellieri

Six years after he last played in the major leagues, Manny Ramirez is heading to Japan to try his hand at independent league ball—because he just misses the game that much, perhaps, but it likely doesn’t hurt that his contract reportedly offers a personal car and driver, unlimited sushi and practice that is only ever “optional.” It’s not immediately clear how such a sweet deal came from the Kochi Island Fighting Dogs, who play in a four-team indy league on the island of Shikoku and could not play night games at home until 2011 because they lacked lighting equipment, at least per Wikipedia. (It’s also not clear if there are any terms and conditions attached to “unlimited” or “optional” here.) But in honor of the deal, we now take a look at some other recently retired players and contract incentives they might receive if they decided to return to baseball at this point:

Ken Griffey, Jr.—unlimited access to a nap room, absent any performance-enhancing bedding or other aid that might be insulting to a naturally talented master of the craft.

Bobby Bonilla—$1.2 million to be paid on July 2 each year until 2036.

Curt Schilling—a campaign manager, joined by a social media intern and personal secretary of memes.

Derek Jeter—a gift basket containing a smaller gift basket containing its own gift basket which therein contains a baby stroller which only goes the right way.

Jose Molina—a framed frame framing another frame, framing a copy of a FRAA leaderboard.

Nick Swisher—a six-pack of Bud Light, a set of ping pong balls, a box set of Vince Vaughn films on Blu-Ray.

Grady Sizemore—bandages, a poster of a cocooned caterpillar with a cloying caption about how it’s never too late to become your best self, a personal tour with the Ghost of Careers Unravaged.

Frank Thomas—private access to a local Home Depot store after hours.

Hands Off the Eleventh Inning: A Manifesto

By: Matt Ellis

Any list of “greatest games” would be telling. Perhaps one would include Merkel’s Boner, Carlton Fisk willing his dinger fair, or the Bartman fiasco. I might argue for the inclusion of the final match of the 2016 World Series, but that’s just me. Regardless of these conclusions, it seems fascinating to even be able to posit that there is a *best* example of baseball, in which somehow, someway, the essence of the game itself is distilled into a nice, clean, three-and-one-half-hour window which would later be available on MLB’s At Bat app on your iPhone for a monthly fee of $9.99. Why even imagine that a cultural institution older than the federal income tax could still provide us meaning here in the year of our lord, 2017?

Why? Because it does, that’s why. Last Saturday, in the first round of the World Baseball Classic, Colombia played against the star-ridden lineup that is the Seattle Mariners Dominican Republic, and then they lost, horribly, violently, unjustly. Why? Well, because of this nonsense.

Oh, just wonderful. Let us now guess what happens in this particular situation: we start an inning with no outs and two runners on base…, imagine what the possibilities would be for managers which we are already annoyed with for being unimaginative conservative robots. Does the word start with ‘B’? Does it matter who is at bat as long as the runners can each advance a base, regardless of how they got there, especially if they got there because you wrote in the cheat codes to place them there free of responsibility whatsoever?

No, of course not. And with the caveat that no game in the World Baseball Classic would amount to one of the greatest games of all time, I think it’s very clear that each day could at least provide an incredible opportunity for something to deviate from the norm, to provide a temporary diversion from the day-to-day mediocrity that is baseball in June–which is what we always wanted in the first place. But instead, we have been given stakes on a silver platter and they have been neutered in favor of beer ads and boner pills.

Here’s the problem: the very possibility that there could be such a thing as “the greatest game of baseball ever played” begets the question of how there even could be such things as better or lesser games. This, of course, sounds like nonsense. Of course there are better games! You’ve watched Chone Figgins ground out to third in the seventh on August 12th too, and when you watched the Cubs mount their comeback last November you also, like me, were like HOLY MOLY BASEBALL IS THE BEST THING AMERICAN CULTURE HAS EVER PRODUCED. But we would be lying to ourselves if we pretended that this amazing thing isn’t a gift given to us, and that we have to fight to defend it.

Instead, what we get is bureaucrats deciding that people must wish extra innings to be shorter, effectively removing precisely the thing that makes baseball better than every other institutionalized major American sport and returning to commoditized commercial logic. Let’s not have instability! No aporias! It’s time to sell some T-shirts.

No, the real story is that the Colombian team earned their comeback with this home run from Jorge Alfaro, and then they were punished for just that fact: it would have been better had they just rolled over and lost in the first place. If there even was a possibility for this baseball game to transcend a scheduled Monday Night Event into an important moment in history–let’s not forget that Nelson Cruz felt his homer in Saturday’s game was the most important of his career–this could have been it. Instead, we were privy to the model of what Manfred and the rest of the MLB brass want to turn all this into: advertisements in between bunts. And don’t you dare forget who wanted any of these things to change in the first place, which begs the question: can there even be another great game of baseball waiting at all?

In short: let’s kill this 11th-inning rule right now and right here. It’s bad for baseball, it’s bad for history, and it’s also bad for TV. I wanted to turn it off as it was happening, and if we have to be beholden to the logic of advertising, then I’m the worst possible consumer. Who wants to join me?

Thank you for reading

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I feel as if Nick Swisher would also require a supply of Solo cups.