Intentional violence does not inhere in baseball, though you could be fooled by, you know, watching a major-league game and seeing the not-insignificant amount of actual and threatened violence regularly on view. I apologize for the hot take because those are not this forum’s métier, but life would be better if fact matched theory in this situation.
Maybe I’m sensitive because I’m the guy whose coach forced him to run laps for the remainder of practice after I declined to execute a takeout slide on my teammate. (I had a lot of reasons: (1) I didn’t want to rip up my poor skin sliding on our horrible dirt; (2) I wasn’t fast enough to actually get to the bag in time to interfere with the throw; (3) high school baseball does not offer enough opportunities to affect a game with a takeout slide—the defense was going to screw up the double play even without us. (To be fair to my coach, I was really required to run because he yelled at me for not doing the slide and I responded by chucking my helmet into the outfield in frustration. I won the Coach’s Award at the end of the season.)
But I’d like to think that my high school experience was effect, not cause, because I am opposed as a matter of morality and aesthetics to takeout slides and all other optional forms of violence in baseball. I think perpetrators of beanballs, forearm shivers on the basepaths, takeout slides, and obviously extracurricular shoving or mound-charging should be shunned by their teammates, which would be a far more effective punishment than being bopped in the ribs by an opposing pitcher. Enforcement has to come from within the community to be just, legitimate, and effective. A better, more beautiful, more accessible game of baseball could be played if the only thing that mattered was the test of skill and luck at the heart of it, not the test of manhood and virility that it tends to become.
Now watch this hilarious skirmish complete with artillery fire:
You’ve probably seen the footage of Rougned Odor’s slide into Andrelton Simmons on Friday, as well as the benches clearing in response. Discussion since then has followed a predictable model: parsing of what constitutes a “bona fide slide” and the subpoints of Rule 6.01, the usual handwringing over “playing hard” and “playing the right way” and “the way baseball used to be.” All of this, however, ignores the most fascinating part of the incident: that Andrelton Simmons was “seemingly unperturbed,” eating gelato during a post-game interview—not only gelato, but a “part-strawberry, part-mango gelato.” This is, in fact, part of a crucial revelation, a key to parsing baseball moods through postgame frozen desserts.
Seemingly Unperturbed: Part-Strawberry, Part-Mango Gelato
The “seemingly” is important. You are, of course, quite perturbed—perturbed enough to get gelato, that denser, more European confection, rather than ice cream, because you deserve a treat for putting up with this and taking the high road—and distracted by the emotional taxation of appearing otherwise—distracted enough enough to have no spare capacity to really choose a flavor.
Frankly Miffed: Magnum Double Cherry Truffle Bar
This is really about having something to bite, and the double has two different chocolate layers that will snap under your teeth. Also, this is a premium ice cream bar. You appreciate you, even if no one else does.
Most Wroth: Peanut Butter Milkshake
Peanut butter has protein in it, so it’s basically a recovery shake, and the straw is something you can grind into plasticky oblivion instead of throwing a chair across the room. The brain-freeze you get from mainlining it as fast as possible will give you a good excuse to let fly with the words you’re not supposed to say during the post-game interview.
Morose: Chocolate Ice Cream
It’s a cliché, obviously, but it’s a safe bet to taste pretty good. It’s not like it matters anyway. You’ll blow the next save, too, just like you blew this chance to pick something interesting.
Plucky and Undeterred: Blue Raspberry Snowball
The snowball is the best of both worlds: shaved ice and marshmallow and another layer of shaved ice and something awesome on top, like gummi bears. It’s got layers—like a parfait, but way more fun. You understand that baseball’s got layers; it’s a long season; the team will start clicking soon, you know it. And you know this melty, hybrid thing is going to turn your tongue blue. You can’t feel too bad about anything if your tongue is blue.
There is plenty of baseball to analyze in The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!, so much that we could have run a Long Relief post just about the ten minutes or so of the movie that takes place at Dodger Stadium (yes, it claims to be Angel Stadium, but is not). Instead, I’m going to focus on one singular thing that happens during the brawl that transpires when Detective Frank Drebin, acting as home plate umpire, tackles Angels star Reggie Jackson.
Ten seconds after the Mariners clear their bench, one of their players (#41, Granderson) breaks a wooden chair over the back of an Angels player. It’s meant to be a funny visual. Strike that. It IS a funny visual. However, I have questions. Where was the chair? How did he get it?
These are some of the potential ways that said player, who we’ll refer to as “Not Curtis” for the rest of this “analysis,” could have ended up with that chair at that spot on the field in time to use it in the fight. We’ll also assign percentages for the options.
It was a coach’s chair in the dugout (75.4%)
Pros: Not Curtis could have pretty easily grabbed a chair from the corner of the dugout even if he wasn’t hustling the way some of his teammates were. The angle at which he strikes the Angels player strongly suggests he’s running in from the direction of the visitors’ dugout. No need to overthink this, Bret.
Cons: When the cameras focus on the dugouts throughout the movie, there are no wooden chairs, but they never pan out to show the whole space. Even if there is a portable seat for a coach, it’s more likely to be a stool.
It was a chair in the bullpen (17.8%)
Pros: The bullpen is the most likely place on the field of play to have a wooden chair. Not Curtis looks like “generic old reliever” from a casting perspective. Could have been sitting on it when the fight started. Could have even been holding it in an aggressive manner, ready to run. Also, visitors’ bullpen is in left field, making the angle more realistic.
Cons: It’s a good 300 feet from the bullpen door to the mound, and Not Curtis doesn’t appear to be in that great of shape. Adrenaline does spike when in dire situations though, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It was the ball boy/girl’s chair (4.8%)
Pros: It’s the second-most likely place on the field of play to have that kind of chair. The ball boy/girl is unlikely to put up a fight.
Cons: While there is mathematically a much better chance that Not Curtis started the scene in the Mariners’ dugout, it would have been more difficult to run the 125-150 feet from the dugout to the ball girl/boy seat, stop, pick up the seat, turn around and sprint the last 175-200 feet to the mound, while curving around the pile to form the right angle. Also more likely to be a stool.
Both Not Curtis and the chair were in the visitors locker room (1.9%)
Pros: This is the most likely place in the stadium to find a wooden chair like the one used in the brawl.
Cons: It’s also the least likely place for Not Curtis to be. Even if the footpath from the locker room to the field is only about 225 feet (150 feet to the dugout, up the stairs, and then another 75 feet to the landing spot of the blow), he’d have to be watching the game at that moment near that chair in order to be able to book it onto the field.
The chair was in the locker room and Not Curtis ran to get it (0.1%)
Pros: There was probably a chair there, as we’ve established.
Cons: Don’t be ridiculous. That’s too far for even Carl Lewis to have run in that time.
The greatest films, as with all storytelling, forces the audience to answer its own questions. So too with Naked Gun. Also, the chair is a metaphor, and you’ll have to figure that part out yourself.