We’re maybe a little more in need than usual of some counterprogramming to American disaster this week. It’s been necessary but tough reading about House oversight committee hearing farces, the President’s ill will trip across the globe and the slow tightening of Mueller’s noose around the Trump administration’s neck. So let’s talk a bit about America’s resurgent Favorite Pastime (with interest in the National Football League sinking like a stone) – baseball!
After the conclusion of this weekend’s Major League Baseball games, the 2018 season will be officially half over. That means it’s time for the All-Star break, featuring the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday night, followed by Tuesday’s battle between the best players from the American and National Leagues. Other than the rotating Derby sponsors (I still hear my father’s voice in my head, shouting about blatant marketing ruining “the integrity of the game” as if our beloved Chicago Cubs haven’t played in a park named after a chewing gum since 1927), there are a few other notable changes that have the potential to make news beyond sports talk radio.
This year’s festivities will be held at National Park in Washington D.C., amidst political tensions running perhaps higher than at any time since the 1970s. As Philip Wallach wrote in his April 26 article for LegBranch.com, When Congress won the American people’s respect: Watergate:
“…the main lesson of Watergate is that Congress gradually learned to assert itself against the President, with historic consequences for our institutional development. (Perhaps not nearly historic enough—I do not consider here what missed opportunities there may have been in 1970s.) I submit that this could happen again.”
So unlike last year’s All-Star events, which occurred in Miami, far from the center of a gathering Constitutional crisis, this year’s players and fans will have no physical or metaphorical space. An annual celebration of diversity and winning will neighbor the epicenter of our nation’s chaos and regression. And because this is Washington D.C., home of lobbying, outsourcing and taxpayer screw jobs, there’s a bit of controversy surrounding public transportation that has the potential to generate headlines. From writer Max Smith of WTOP:
“The Nationals have refused in the past to pay the deposit Metro requires for extended hours for regular season or playoff games, instead having a sponsor cover the costs. For the All-Star Game, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game sponsor MasterCard has agreed to cover the costs of additional service.
Metro is again announcing this as a ‘partnership’ with MasterCard and MLB that includes Metro promotions tied to the ‘All-Star FanFest,’ so the exact amount of money changing hands if any is not yet clear.”
If my husband and I carry discarded furniture from our third-floor walkup unit to the dumpster in the alley together, we are partners. If Bob does all the lifting, and I slap my website logo on his back, I am a lazy benefactor.
Of course not all of the press coverage around the 2018 All-Star Game will surround toxic political air and infrastructure debates. There’s always plenty for sports pundits and fans to grumble about related to the NL and AL team lineups. This year is no exception. Rucker Haringey writes of Blake Snell and the 5 Biggest 2018 All-Star Game Snubs. His list includes the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher as well as the Washington Nationals’ own starting shortstop Trea Turner.
Certain Chicago Cub fans, who might also happen to be Contemptor contributors, are miffed at the absence of rock star outfielder Albert Almora Jr. from the NL roster. Among all National League batters, Almora sits in third place with a current average of .317. However, Almora is a victim here, not of subjective fan voting, but rather mismanagement by Windy City favorite son Joe Maddon (Yes. I said it. Come at me, Internet).
Next week offers mid-summer breaks of several sorts. Although President Trump will be overseas potentially signing over what’s left of our national dignity to Vladimir Putin, he will at least be out of American airspace. This era of deregulation notwithstanding, the oxygen always smells a bit sweeter when the Very Stable Genius decamps. And on the lighter side of U.S. life and continuity, baseball fans can enjoy a couple of days with stakes no higher than selecting game time snacks (no more of this World Series home advantage stuff). We deserve the psychological reprieve.