CULTURE

Baseball is Back

Editor’s Note: The following is Michael Huling’s weekly Highlight.

I don’t want to get too bogged down on rank political punditry this week, and I’ll explain why later in this column if the title isn’t obvious enough. In any case, this has been a bit of a weird week with regard to the news cycle. It feels like it was a slow news week, although quite a lot did happen.

President Trump made yet another cabinet change, selecting Physician to the President and U.S. Navy rear admiral Ronny Jackson as the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In light of the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer and British spy Sergei Skripal, the United States, Britain, and dozens of other nations have said they will expel Russian diplomats. In response, Russia has brought 60 diplomats back from the United States. North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un left his home nation for the first time, visiting China to engage in diplomatic negotiations. The discussions seemingly went well, with China President Xi Jinping claiming that North Korea has pledged to commit to a denuclearization plan. These two leaders have not proven to be very trustworthy during their respective reigns, but this could very well be a promising development. A fatal police shooting of unarmed suspect Stephon Clark took place in Sacramento, resulting in protests blocking highways, streets, and the Sacramento Kings stadium throughout the rest of the week. Some of the Parkland student activists continue to make waves, but lately it seems to have much less to do with gun policy than simply attacking anyone who dares to belittle their cause.

There are several other big stories along with all of these, but the point is that a lot certainly did happen this week. It just doesn’t feel like it since everyday seems to have a million different breaking news stories. Maybe that’s just the way it is nowadays, with mass media and a president who is a spectacle in and of himself. Maybe being a little out of the loop while on spring break just made it seem like a slightly less hectic week, which I suppose is the point of a “break.” Whatever the case may be, we’ve become so used to a news cycle that incessantly features one “BREAKING NEWS”™ story after another.

As I previously mentioned, I don’t care to go any further into politicking in this week’s Highlight. Something far more important and interesting has captivated my mind all week, finally peaking yesterday afternoon.

The Fun Stuff:

BASEBALL. IS. BACK.

The greatest sport in the history of mankind. Yes, mankind. Despite Justin Trudeau’s best efforts, saying “peoplekind” is just too desperate and depressing for any self-respecting person. America’s pastime has fascinated people all over the world for nearly a century and a half. In many ways, baseball is as unique as America. The players come from all backgrounds and in all sizes, with goliaths like Aaron Judge, and much smaller players like Jose Altuve. Judge stands at 6’7″ and weighs 282 pounds, dwarfing Altuve who is a mere 5’6″ and weighs 165 pounds. Interestingly enough, Altuve and Judge finished first and second respectively in the American League MVP race last season.

Some people criticize baseball for the games being “too slow,” but this is part of what makes the game so riveting. Each at-bat is a war of attrition, with an inconceivable amount of data going into every single pitch. The sport has evolved to a science in this regard, as the advent of sabermetrics has taken baseball to new heights (special thanks to Bill James and Billy Beane). The new emphasis on launch angles, exit velocity, pitch framing, defensive shifts, etc. has led to an incredible transformation. Last season saw a record number of home runs, leading to the slogan of “The Year of the Home Run.” The hitters have certainly adapted to the most effective means of scoring runs, while the pitchers are also catching up, with strikeout numbers also soaring in recent years.

Baseball is its own microcosm of natural selection, with the best players and strategies surviving, and those that are less effective dying off rather quickly. Thankfully, there’s no actual dying in baseball, other than Ryan Howard’s career after the implementation of defensive shifts, and the bird that Randy Johnson once obliterated.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the very first pitch of the MLB season resulted in a home run, courtesy of Ian Happ.

There is a good shot that the league home run record set last season is broken again this year. There were three extra innings games yesterday, and a total of six games decided by one run. The Yankees were dominant in a 6-1 win, showing what to expect for the rest of the season. Giancarlo Stanton made his team debut, blasting a homer in his first at-bat, and another late in the game. Here is Stanton’s first home run of the day:

And his second:

I can already tell that this is going to be a good season. I suppose this is also as good a time and place as any to make my World Series picks. There American League is tough this year, with Houston, Cleveland, and Boston all having very good teams, but I’m still going with the Yankees to take the pennant this season. The National League will come down to Washington, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and I’m liking the Cubs to bounce back after their slight regression last year, following their first World Series title in roughly three billion years the season before. I’ll take the Yankees over the Cubs in the World Series, but not because I’m biased or anything.

The Final Four is also tomorrow, so I’ll make my picks for the rest of the tournament as well. Villanova over Kansas, and Loyola-Chicago over Michigan (hopefully). The winner of the Villanova game is the clear favorite to win the championship, but in a tournament full of upsets, I’d love to see one more.

Lastly, I want to congratulate a hero of mine on a massive career move. Ben Shapiro will have his podcast become a nationally syndicated radio show, beginning next week. He has been instrumental for me from a political and career perspective, but also in showing how to live virtuously in a society that all too often rewards iniquity. Ben is not just a role model for conservatives, but for anyone who truly wants to better themselves and their communities.

I went away from the typical political punditry and towards baseball punditry, which may be refreshing for some and nauseating to others. I imagine if you’ve read this far, you don’t mind the “excessive” baseball talk too much. Either that, or you just have nothing better to do than read my rants on all things political and apolitical. Whatever the case, I genuinely appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my work. With that, I think it’s time for me to hit the beach. I’ve got two more days of spring break and I intend to make the most of them!

Have a great weekend and a happy Easter, God bless.

 

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2 comments

  1. Great article this week! A little politics and a lot of baseball, as it should be! One cannot become to absorbed in the political madness we all must endure these days! I’m grateful for the distraction myself! One can only take so much of the back and forth bickering and partisan political gamesmanship being displayed by those in the media, politics, and whiney 17 year old children who would tell you they’re adults and know what’s best for all Americans as it relates to gun control and the second amendment in one breath, and decry they are just children when the are called out on their lies and baseless statements devoid of actual facts! Their hypocrisy knows no bounds! But I digress, BASEBALL IS BACK!!! That makes me one happy camper!!!

    Like

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