Well, the 2021 World Series is now history, and fans in Atlanta don’t ever intend to forget it. Twenty-six years between championships is a l-o-n-g time. (Not Cubs’ long, but still long enough.) Fortunately, good, solid baseball prevailed. No team was accused of cheating this time. Although there was controversy. Not about the Series itself, but more having to do with baseball in general.
Perhaps you saw the report that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has taken issue with the word “bullpen” in the context of how it’s used in baseball. For the uninitiated, the bullpen is the designated area where pitchers (especially relief pitchers) sit during a game. PETA, if I read the press release correctly, believes that the offensive term “mocks the misery of animals,” meaning, in this case, loveable cuddly bulls – the ones you want to stay away from if you’re ever in a farmer’s field or are flashing a red cape in front of them.
The organization suggests, instead, that the bullpen be referred to as the “arm barn.” I believe their thinking is that since the pitchers stay in that enclosed area during a game, they are, basically, arms waiting to be utilized. Not wishing to step into a mess caused by any kind of bull, I’ll simply say I read elsewhere that “arm barn” may also be offensive in that it could refer derisively to a boutique for high-priced artificial limbs.
On the heels of the “arm barn” imbroglio, the rather satirical folks at The Babylon Bee reported that PETA “has called upon the MLB to change the name of the wooden sticks players hit the ball with from ‘bats’ to something else as the name is very offensive to small, flying, nocturnal animals.”
And that raises the question about what would you call the wooden implements if not bats? Here’s one suggestion: Carrots. I can just hear it now. Instead of a sportscaster shouting, “Boy, he really got some good wood on that one,” he’d say, “Boy, he really mashed that vegetable.” The Bee reported that PETA had also called upon the league to change the name of the fly ball, as “it could be very hurtful to small flying insects.”
If all those changes were to occur, where would it stop? I mean, is the term “outfield” non-inclusive? Is the “infield” where only the cool people play the game? Even the term “reliever” used in reference to those in the “arm barn” could be construed as too graphic. Isn’t relief what Alka-Seltzer gives in times of gastric distress?
A foul ball sounds somewhat suspicious. Does it smell funny? Did it do something dastardly? Could those who are spelling-challenged think a foul ball is a slam against chickens?
What about “outfield walls”? Given the hue and cry about walls in this country of late, perhaps the barriers in the outfields of stadiums should be removed. Of course, that might allow anyone and everyone access to the field of play, which wouldn’t be good. Even left field and right field have political overtones. Center field is okay, I guess. But “neutral field” could encompass all and not be offensive.
And then there are strikes and balls. Is calling good pitches “strikes” an affront or a salute to Unions? And who came up with the idea of describing pitches not crossing a prescribed zone balls? Balls are the things with stitches on them that you use to play the game. How can they also be used to describe non-strikes?
Along that same line of thinking, a person very close to me wonders why a “hit” only refers to getting safely to a base. If there’s a ground out or fly out, didn’t the batter (excuse me, “carrot-waver”) hit the ball? Maybe a reach-the-base hit should actually be a “safety.” There could be single safeties, double safeties, triple safeties, etc. Because you safely reach base without making an out.
Why is home plate called home plate? There’s first base, second base, and third base, right? Why isn’t the plate called fourth base? And why plate at all? It’s not shaped like one. It’s a pentagon. Not to be confused with the building housing military might in Washington, D.C., mind you. But if there’s a play at the plate when a runner trying to score gets there simultaneously with a thrown ball from a fielder, shouldn’t it be he’s either out or safe at the pentagon?
Hmmm. Maybe it’s a good thing the World Series is over. Just too many issues going on. But at least there’s something for baseball fans something to contemplate during the winter.
©MMXXI. William J. Lewis, III – Freelance Writer