Posts Tagged ‘Pierre Menard’

The Sports Revolution: Speeding Up Baseball

Let me set the scene for you: The Tigers and Rangers play a tight afternoon Game 2 that many do not see the end of, because they have turned instead to a mundane Monday Night Football contest between the Lions and the Bears. Oh my.

Let me reset the scene for you: The Tigers and Rangers play a tight afternoon Game 2 that stays in the afternoon, with nobody turning the channel. They achieve this with one simple alteration of baseball rules: A batter is only permitted one two-strike foul ball before he is called out.

As always, please, control your incredulity. Baseball, as a game, has gotten demonstrably slower over the years — not just because more batters are getting on base, but also because they’re taking longer to do so. Major leaguers averaged 3.81 pitches per plate appearance this season, just down from record numbers in recent years. Contrast that with 1988, the first year that Baseball-Reference tracked the stat, when plate appearances lasted a mere 3.59 pitches.* Continue reading

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The Sports Revolution: Simultaneous Overtime!

Let ESPN’s Brian Griese set the scene for you: “It’s almost like the TD was given; it’s all going to come down to the two-point conversion.”

Let NPI’s Pierre Menard reset the scene for you: “Nothing in college football’s overtime can possibly be described as ‘given.’”

We have spent so much time analyzing the inadequacies of professional football’s overtime logistics that we have overlooked the larger flaws in college’s practice of the extra session(s). We are lucky that Monsieur Griese was describing a game between his alma mater, Michigan, and Illinois—one that Pierre can safely say was, in all aspects, irrelevant and insignificant.

Yes, college football’s overtime, mon ami, is broken. It is too easy to score, and like its professional predecessor, places an unnecessary significance on the initial coin toss. Furthermore, it skews statistics, scores, and the very nature of the sport.

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The Sports Revolution: Saving the Division Series

Last year about this time, I laid out my plans for an entire postseason overhaul. This year, while standing by most of those innovative suggestions — the nine-game World Series, in particular — I want to revisit the aspect of the Major League Baseball postseason that I, and every baseball fan I know,* continues to find most troubling.

*I do not know John S.

I speak, of course, of the Division Series.

The Division Series — scourge of the favorite and the underdog alike, a duality best occupied, it seems, by the Minnesota Twins. The Division Series — where a season of tidings of comfort and joy can come crashing down in four days. The Division Series — where baseball’s postseason most trivializes its regular-season and creates fundamental questions regarding the justice of its champion. The Division Series — why does it drop the “League” when the LCS never does?*

*Methinks the answer lay in an aversion to a certain FX television program. Perhaps I’ve anthropomorphized too much. That, or they don’t want to confuse members of the Latter-Day Saints.

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The Sports Revolution: And TWO!

Let me set the scene for you: You are playing the game of basketball, and you drive to the basket, and you are fouled on a layup attempt that you miss. You receive two free throws. The next play, the same thing occurs, except that you make the layup. You receive one free throw.

Let me reset the scene for you: Playing the game of basketball, yadda yadda, miss layup + foul = two free throws, made layup + foul = two free throws.

Wait, what?

Yes, mon ami, Pierre returns and with a vengeance. The NBA shall draw my unique ire over the course of the next several weeks, as I once again spew vitriol at the odd presumptions of American sports rules, taking aim at its most athletic and aesthetic of sports, but one that is passing away before our very eyes.

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Salman Rushdie and Creative Invention

Here are some things I like: rock music, stories about rock music, Greek mythology, modern re-tellings of ancient myths, alternate histories, esoterically allusive novels, trendy novelists. Given these preferences, Salman Rushdie’s The Ground Beneath Her Feet seems like a book written not so much for me as at me: Rushdie’s novel is a re-imagining of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set against the backdrop of the musical culture of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. I seem ideally suited to like this book.

And yet there is something very much off about it.

For one, Rusdie begins at the end: The novel opens with, “On St. Valentine’s Day, 1989, the last day of her life, the legendary popular singer Vina Apsara woke sobbing from a dream of human sacrifice in which she had been the intended victim.”

Beginning with the death of one of the two central characters (the “Eurydice” figure), Rushdie then goes backwards to tell us where she came from, how she met her soul mate, Ormus Cama (“Orpheus”), as well as our narrator Umeed “Rai” Merchant (also in love with Vina), and how she became a “legendary popular singer.”

Now, beginning at the end is not inherently bad— many great novels have done it successfully (Infinite Jest, American Pastoral, The Invisible Man). In this instance, though, it is indicative of the way Rushdie jumps around chronologically, never letting the story settle down and simply unfold. Continue reading