The Historic Dateline of Baseball in the first half of the Twenty-First Century

By Larry Teren

Dateline- November, 2020 – Major League Baseball Owners vote to no longer charge ticket admission to the games. Two teams- the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox- are the only ones to oppose. The reason for the decision is that attendance has been shrinking every year to a league-wide average of 8,000 per game.

One anonymous official in the Commissioner’s office said, “few Blacks and Muslims have any interest in the game. The Indian immigrants who fled to the US after Pakistan invaded India and took over are only interested in Cricket. The White population has been shrinking ever since the 2012 Presidential Elections. Hispanics are ardent followers of the sport but cannot afford the typical $100 per game cost of a ticket.”

The owners are hoping that giving away the tickets will get people to come to the game and make it look like the players are not playing just for a television audience. Owners hope to make up the difference in the lost revenue by selling higher priced concessions. Beer will now cost $10 a ten ounce cup, hot dogs- $7 a pup. Fans will not be allowed to bring any food or drink into the ballparks and will be thoroughly checked.

Some of the athletes have been complaining that when playing in front of near empty ballparks, it is hard to tell if they are the home or visiting team. Rocky Peterson is quoted as saying, “hey as long as they pay me my $25 million a year contract, they can do whatever they want. If it means having more fans in the stands- great!” Alberto Zapata, a Cuban defector and recently signed to a three year, $47 million contract said, “Espero que un día encontrar mi certificado de nacimiento y obtener mi tarjeta verde.”

January, 2030- Now that the new Congress is in place, the majority Green Party members of the House of Representatives rush through a bill that outlaws the cutting down of trees for anything unessential. On the list are baseball bats. MLB immediately approves the use of aluminum bats for the first time.

November, 2030- The commissioner’s office is assessing the changes that will be needed to offset the effects of the use of aluminum bats the season that just passed. Seven pitchers are hit by line drives with five dying from the results. One expires immediately on the mound although the batter is ruled out because the ball stayed lodged in the pitcher’s teeth even as he lay limp on the ground.

January, 2030- A consensus of MLB owner’s have agreed to allow pitchers to be replaced by pitching machines, the very type used by kids all over America taking batting practice. In order to placate the players’ union from the loss of up to a dozen men on a squad, teams may now rotate offensive and defensive players during the game at will. Rosters will stay at 25.

The pitching coach will control the pitching machine. He will be able to select from a choice of curve ball, fast ball, slider, screwball and ‘surprise’ while also programming the device to vary the speed and to take into account whether the batter is a lefty or right-handed.

In a related vote, the Cy Young Award will now go the player with the most hits in each league.

November, 2031- After assessing play with the use of the pitching machine, MLB owners have now decided to outlaw bunts as there is no one on the mound to come rushing in to pick up a dribbler. Some owners argue to allow a ninth human to stand next to the machine as the designated fielder but are overruled.

November, 2035- MLB owners vote to point a laser decoder to home plate to determine if the pitch is in the strike zone. Balls will be sprayed with a special phosphorous substance to aid in detection by the laser beam. The home plate umpire will signal the call after reading the display on his hand-held device. Umpires will still decide if a runner is safe at home or if a pitch is batted fair or foul, both subject to instant replay overrule.

December, 2040 – MLB owners vote to put all teams into the playoffs regardless of record. When asked why, the commissioner points out that they did a marketing study and found out that fans care about only two things- statistics and if their team gets into the post season. By playing a full season and being eligible for the post season regardless of record, this satisfies everyone. Fans can keep on comparing batting statistics of players against each other and be comfortably aware that their team makes the playoffs.

All teams with losing records play one game runoffs against each other in each league until there is only one team left. That team will play the wild card winner with the worst winning record among the three wild card winners. None of the regular best-of-five post season matches will begin until one below-.500 team winner is determined. There is a possibility that the regular playoff matches will not start until the third week of October, weather permitting.

December, 2042- After two years of postponing several playoff games due to bad weather, MLB owners have voted to play all post-season games in domed stadiums. It will mean that most participants will not have their fan base show up in person to watch their heroes. To make it fair, if a team has a domed stadium, they must play their opponents in a third-party location.

February, 2045- Due to its scarcity, the congressional majority Green Party has outlawed the use of aluminum in all but essential products. MLB owners immediately lock out all ballplayers from showing up to Spring Training pending how to resolve the bat issue.

February, 2050- Now that the Republican coalition of the White minority along with the newly chartered 51st and 52nd states of Cuba and the Dominican Republic have taken back control of the House of Representatives, they immediately remove the ban on tree cutting for recreational purposes. MLB owners are contemplating ending the lockout and are now scouting Japan for pitchers.

Do I look Like I Speak Spanish?

By Larry Teren

What a great country! Well, maybe. No seriously. Okay, maybe it is when we are all on the same page speaking the same language. But you will say that this country is known for being a melting pot. The Statue of Liberty proclaims, “bring us your tired, your poor….” Yeah, but the idea is that the terrestrial aliens are supposed to be kind of like trying to learn to speak English so they can melt in quicker, no?       Continue reading “Do I look Like I Speak Spanish?”

A Star Isn’t Born

By Larry Teren

My buddy Tony has a vivid imagination. At least, that’s what I think. He is the guy who should have been sitting in the back seat of that car with Rod Steiger instead of Marlon Brando in the movie, “On The Waterfront”, and speak those immortal words- “I coulda been a contender!”     Continue reading “A Star Isn’t Born”

A Business Opportunity

By Larry Teren

It’s not every day that a solid business opportunity comes into the in-box of my email program. That is, one that has not already been placed into the spam folder before I have a chance to decide if it is legitimate or not. After all, it is not some influential businessman from Nigeria who is contacting me. No, this guy has it all worked out, carefully avoiding the scheme that asks me to cash his check and keep a certain percentage for doing him such a big favor.

And his salutation is so simplistic but eloquently put. Aw, what the heck- read the letter:

Continue reading “A Business Opportunity”

Red Dots

By Larry Teren

I see red dots everywhere. No, I don’t hallucinate about the chewy candy eaten while watching a movie at a theater. Nor do I dream of playing in a fast pitch 12 inch softball tournament that uses red dot tightly wound balls.
reddotsoftball In fact, until I was about 20, I thought small softballs were for girls and sissies. Real men played 16 inch softball without gloves in Chicago. A couple of broken fingers later, I resolved who were the true idiots. No, these red dots are the ubiquitous LED lights that glow in the dark. Continue reading “Red Dots”

“Hello, My name is Vishnu- Do You Mind Taking a Survey?…….”

By Larry Teren

 

The phone rang and woke me out of a dream while taking an afternoon nap. (The nap, not the dream is one of the perks of working at home. In the interest of fair reporting, I split up the day so that a good portion of the work I do is in the evening hours when it is convenient to remote in to clients’ computers without interfering with their processing.)

I picked up the phone on the nightstand to the left of the bed and answered the call.

Me: “Hello?”

Caller: “Hello, this is Vishnu. I am calling on behalf your health insurance company. They want to know if you are willing to take a three to four minute survey on the quality of the customer service they recently provided to you.”

Me: “Sure, if it is not going to take more than three or four minutes.” Like I was otherwise busy, huh?

Caller: “Yes, it will not take more than three of four minutes. Let us begin…” Continue reading ““Hello, My name is Vishnu- Do You Mind Taking a Survey?…….””

Absolutely

While driving, I heard a newsradio report about someone who committed a heinous action but was given absolution. That last word struck me as sounding very much similar to the word “absolute.” So, I checked out a dictionary definition of “absolute” and it read “free from imperfection, complete, perfect.” Now, wait a minute! How can someone who did a no-no in the eyes of the law (and maybe even a higher jurisdiction) be free from being imperfect”? Huh?

In mathematics, they talk of the absolute value of a number. That refers to its core value regardless of the sign. Doesn’t make a difference if it is a 1 or a -1, the absolute value is still 1. But, -1 is less than a 1, so how can that be a perfect solution to a value? Hey, if I can get away with this logic, maybe I can convince the bank that a
-100.00 balance in my checking account is absolutely 100.00 and to lay off the fines and penalties and bad credit ratings.

Of course, there are mathematicians who will explain that it really means to indicate the distance of the number from zero. I will kindly suggest to those geniuses that they ought to go out in 30 degrees below zero weather as opposed to 30 degrees above and still try convincing themselves that it is all absolutely relative to zero and it makes no difference.

In philosophy, they say that absolute is an objective reality that replaces the concept of there being a Deity. Well, you try saying ‘absolute damn it’ several times when you bump your knee into a chair.

I understand that astronomers use the expression “absolute magnitude” when measuring the radiance of a star. Why can’t they just say the “brightness”?

Linguists talk of absolute construction of phrases. Don’t ask me what that means but I understand that using the expression, “all things considered”, or “this being the case” are prime examples. Absolutely. Trust me.

Untitled

Like everyone else, I dream of my 15 minutes of fame and can’t figure out what’s taking so long. I already have picked out the title to my autobiography. After all, everyone wants to read about the famous, right?

Actually, there are several titles in play. I’m still deciding. I’ll pass along a few examples:

Confessions of a Cassanova– I thought this would be a good intro about my life as a cad, womanizer, ladie’s man, hunk, whatever. But then I found out that in some languages, it can also mean “new house”. So, well… I can write about remodeling my condo apartment.

The Meek Do Not Inherit The Earth– Over the years, I’ve learned that one must stand up for himself, unless the cop tells you to stay in the car after he pulls you over for going through a red light.

If I Make Sense, Give Me The Change– This one is my favorite because it makes no sense. Okay, maybe it is stating the obvious- that not everyone understands my brand of humor, which comes in many flavors.

Self-Hero Worship– Hey, If I’m not gonna tote my whistle, who is? Patting oneself on the back is a form of good exercise. It works the forearm muscles into shape.

The Life of a Pulitzer Prize Winner– Hey, we can all dream, right?

The Pride of Austin– I figured I’d get all the Texans to spend money on a book about one of their native sons until they found out I was referring to a neighborhood in Chicago of which the last time I stepped foot on a sidewalk there was August 28, 1968.

You Can’t Keep a Good Man Up or Last Man Standing– I like to sit or better yet, lay down and keep my legs lifted. It helps the edema. Or maybe, more apropos- Here’s to a Swell Guy.

Normal, Stupid or Jerk?

Ask me to use “normal”, “stupid”, and “jerk” all in one sentence and I’ll say, “normally, I come across at least one stupid jerk a day.” This past Friday, I had the “pleasure” of experiencing more than the usual quota. Permit me to explain:

I live in a 96-unit condo building alongside a major thoroughfare that derives its traffic from the off ramp of the expressway two blocks west of my building. One block east of me is another, much larger
condo complex. My co-owners are the poor cousins and those to the east are the enviable rich ones. They not only have 24 hour doorman service but apparently enough clout so that when the building was built, a stop light was put at the driveway to the complex to make it convenient for the snobs to be able to make a left turn onto the street and go west.

On the other hand, my building has two entrance/exits to the street spanning both sides of the north-side outdoor parking lot and smaller eastern parking area. Our village would never allow for too many stoplights so close to each other, so for those of us trying to get out of the lot and make a left turn onto the busy street, it is pot luck. We have to wait for traffic to subside and sometimes be daring. Those of use, such as yours truly, who habitually use the east driveway to get onto the street have the comfort of taking advantage of a safety island for left turns. If traffic going west is too heavy while nothing is happening on the eastbound side, we can at least make half the effort and get onto the safety island and then wait for the westbound traffic to subside and merge in.

Anyway, Friday morning my car rolls up the indoor lower east garage ramp only to be greeted by eastbound traffic at a total standstill. After waiting a minute or two, I inch my way into it, content to forget about the desire to make a left turn and go westbound. I’m already resolved to the notion of having to go a mile out of my way to finally get my car turned into the intended direction. Even if I tried to just go the one block east to the entrance to our condo neighbors, make a u-turn and take advantage of the stoplight at their driveway, it would not have helped. Other frustrated drivers were not giving up an inch and were blocking any effort at an open path for those at the rich people’s building from making a legally mandate left turn.

As I got closer to ground zero of the cause of this traffic gridlock, it became quite apparent what was occurring. The State of Illinois hands out contracts using taxpayer money to repave streets that don’t need it. You ask how I know that it is a waste? Well, paving the same area three times in six years should be a clue. Worse, they pick the most devastating time of the day to do this work.

They refuse to schedule the work at night because they don’t want to pay a premium for night work as well as fear of their employees getting hit by bad drivers. There is no justification for the first excuse because there should never be a premium paid for working a late shift. In today’s economy, people should be glad to have work. The second excuse is debatable. At night, there is less traffic and it should be more manageable.

I’m not sure if the traffic control workers at the road construction sites are employed by the State or by the contractors who do the work. It doesn’t really matter. Most of the time, they are stupid jerks. (Aha! You were waiting for the tie-in to the title.) Which leads me to first make an observation about this expression:

There used to be a time when being a jerk was synonymous with being stupid. Then, the algorithm changed and one could be stupid or just be a jerk. Jerk became associated with conspiring to be stupid or nasty and not necessarily accidentally. So, if I called you stupid, I understood you could not help yourself. If I called you a jerk, I was confirming that I knew that what you did was intentional, well-thought out and that you would never amount to anything good. But, a stupid jerk! That put someone in a special class. That meant that we all knew that you intentionally did bad by us but you screwed it up and couldn’t even get your evilness accomplished smoothly.

You see, the main corner two blocks east of my building is a diagonal intersect. The road crew decided to repave the left turn lane at the stoplight. In doing so, they closed off the left turn and the left traffic lane, naturally, leaving just the right traffic lane open. However, the stupid jerk traffic control person was holding all cars from pushing into the right lane while the traffic light was green, but letting them inch ahead when it was red. Not only that, but when a dump trump got filled with torn-away pavement and needed to go move it to a landfill, she held up traffic once again while the light was green, instead of waiting until it was red. This kept all eastbound traffic sitting in essentially the same spot for more than ten minutes. And, as I mentioned earlier, this same left turn lane had been repaved twice earlier in recent memory. It did not need another facelift.

The other encounter with a stupid jerk that day also had to do with being behind the wheel. On my way back from visiting a client as well as taking care of a couple of errands, I decided to take a different route back home fearful of being exposed to more roadwork. As I approached the major intersection two blocks west of my building from the north, the car just ahead of me pulled into the left turn lane as I would do to be able to go east towards my building. The driver- at this point sex unknown- stopped in the left turn lane instead of moving up into the intersection to be ready to finish the turn as oncoming traffic cleared when the light changed. Sixteen year old kids just getting their first drivers license know this. But this stupid jerk sat there with a good thirty seconds more left on the green light and was content to wait until the next change to green. Obviously my honking did nothing to budge the driver, but it was a healthy outlet for me.

As soon as the next green light came along with the obligatory left turn accommodation, the car in front proceeded as well mine did after it. Since the street we were both now on was a two-lane road and the car ahead of mine was moving along slowly, I had two thoughts in my head- one was that the driver was ancient and to hold my tongue while the other was to quickly go into the other lane and beat a path around it. As I came along side the driver, I quickly noticed it was a woman probably in her thirties or forties, yakking away on a small phone she held to her ear. Stupid freaking jerk! There, I said it. Thank you.

By the way, the next day, as I was taking a long walk to a planned destination on the street around 7:30am, I saw that the road gang was back out, this time repainting white lines at the diagonal intersection two blocks east. Once again, surreptitiously, the traffic control person decided to stop cars while they had a green light. I smirked, continuing my eastbound walk. two blocks and at least five minutes later, I turned back to see that the easterly traffic was still at a standstill and thought I heard honking.

As Rodney King once said, “Can’t we all get along?” No!