"Be honest, isn't watching a baseball game the second most tedious thing you can do with your clothes on?"
I tasked the Humor Gang at Gather Essentials: Writing/Humor Monday to wax funny on the theme of Summertime, now that we are officially there.
They don't usually pay any attention to me. But I do.
So, here's my first of two SUMMERTIME articles:
The Three B's of Summer: Baseball, Barbecue and Beer
Every year, as we approach summer, two B's bob up on the cultural horizon: baseball and barbecue. These phenomena are inextricably entwined, the Yin and the Yang of summer: one has the potential of boring you to death while the other could light your fire in a way you'd rather avoid.
There is a third B: beer, the lubricant for the other two.
Over time, as economic conditions improved, less and less of the American population tilled the fields. Winters became particularly dangerous lulls in a citizen's life. To counteract this trend, the ever-watchful government filled the winter with playoffs: football, hockey and basketball. Just enough adrenalin to keep the heart ticking until, once again, the weather warmed up and our Inner Farmer could return to the great outdoors.
When winter wanes, baseball begins — but baseball has political ramifications as well. The MLB postseason playoff schedule was extended in 1969, pushing the World Series to late October. This revised schedule may explain our presidential choices over the past twenty years. In the elections that followed the schedule change, tired from all that baseball, we re-elected Nixon, then chose Jimmy Carter followed by Clinton who was bracketed by a pair of Bushes.
Now, every four years, if the World Series ends in early November, politicians are assured that the average American voter will be too tired and hoarse to vote with any form of coherence. Should there be a seventh Series game this year, it will happen just before the election.
The downside to the playoff strategy is that people become addicted to sports. Baseball is the summer solution, though it's a counterproductive activity when your goal is to keep the mind stimulated. Baseball, even though it is our national pastime, is possibly the biggest snooze ever invented — second only to televised golf tournaments.
Yes, yes, I know there are ardent baseball fans reading this. I was one myself once. But, be honest, isn't watching a baseball game the second most tedious thing you can do with your clothes on? We ought to be able to come up with a better excuse for avoiding mowing the lawn, something that also goes well with beer and pretzels.
(HISTORICAL NOTE: Abner Doubleday invented baseball as a board game but sold it to George Steinbrenner after the Parker Brothers turned it down because it required too many couples to play.)
The 2008 baseball season is in full swing. It promises to deliver the usual: unresolved drug exposés, yelling managers and booing fans falling asleep on the couch. With football, every time the ball is hiked, something happens. In baseball, for the most part, when the ball is pitched everyone watches it go by the batter.
To offset baseball's sedative effect, the BBQ was invented to get some adrenalin back into summer, adding a little spank to the swelter, if you will. The chance your hair can catch on fire dramatically heightens one's sense of awareness — so much so that Man vs. Barbecue is really an unfair match. This is why men drink beer while they barbecue: to handicap their brain.
However, we still have a problem. In order to counteract the doldrums of summer we invented baseball.
Turns out baseball works fine if you're playing, not so good if you're watching. To get guys off the couch and spark up their lives, we invented the barbecue, which went too far on the alertness spectrum so we tempered it with beer. Now we're faced with a presidential election in the fall, for which, if the World Series goes the limit, we'll be lucky to get .5 percent of the male voters off the couch.
THE MORAL: The government should leave well enough alone. Whenever congressmen stick their noses in our business, whether it's price supports, military appropriations or hiring interns, something gets screwed up.