Pine-tar Doritos

There being, I am told, some sort of football game today, it’s probably a good time to contemplate the appeal of sports. Fortunately, Francis W. Porretto has done the dirty work for us:

If there’s any rational reason for Americans’ enthusiasm for pro sports, it has to have something to do with our disgust with politics. There might be some politics in the operation of a sports league — in the sense of owners and franchisees jockeying for some financial advantage or other, at least — but once the players are on the field, the rules, however complex, don’t change in mid-game. At least, they’re not supposed to, and we don’t expect them to. That’s why the “Pine Tar Tragedy” of a few years back, in which Billy Martin’s citation of George Brett’s illegal bat — and it was illegal, by the rules under which the game was being played on that day — was retroactively overruled by the American League, was so reaving. That sort of nonsense belongs on Capitol Hill, not in the pure and undefiled cathedrals of pro sports. The demagoguery and ex-post-facto rationalizations were even worse. Don’t tell me about “the spirit of the rule;” tell me what the rule says in plain BLEEP!ing English — and abide by it.

Of course, we had this enthusiasm for sports before we became disgusted with politics, but that merely demonstrates our desire for simple, and, more important, immutable rules.

As for the disgust, start with Earl Wilson’s observation that “we have 35 million laws trying to enforce Ten Commandments,” and consider that now we have just as many trying to find loopholes therein.


  1. JT »

    3 February 2013 · 6:25 pm

    Then we have the talking heads that try and inject politics into our games even (and especially) when we don’t want them.

    I find it interesting that there was so much controversy over Janet Jackson’s exposure, but everybody is perfectly happy with Go Daddy and Calvin Klein commercials showing even more skin and advertising every violent movie and TV show on the planet during the game.

  2. CGHill »

    3 February 2013 · 6:51 pm

    Well, you know, that’s the basic issue with the lowest common denominator: it’s common.

  3. XRay »

    3 February 2013 · 8:06 pm

    We seem to be skating, for the time being, on some sort of anarchy. Though to my mind it is of the wrong sort. Albeit I’m not completely sure what is the right sort. I’m almost to the point of not worrying, as I’ll not live to see the resolution, nor those who are living now. We’ll go on or we won’t and it won’t make a tinker’s dam to me. Well it will, but you know what I mean, I’ll be dead. I did my part, played my undistinguished role, kept my nose above water for the most part.

    I’m sorry, I’m nowhere near on topic. But, a deep pass is a deep pass, whether a football or a life, to some..

  4. Roger Green »

    4 February 2013 · 9:40 am

    The observation that sports’ popularity is related to politics’, tend to make me dismiss the analysis out of hand, based on your accurate point.

  5. nightfly »

    4 February 2013 · 5:03 pm

    In re: the Pine Tar Game, the reason the in-game ruling was overturned by the League was simple: the rulebook didn’t actually spell out what should happen to a player who put too much tar on the bat. The only requirement of the rule was that the bat had to be removed from the game. And even an ejection of Brett, if warranted, did not extend the remedy to voiding the results of the completed play.

    In short, Billy Martin logrolled Tim McClelland and crew.

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