I imagine that it’s a pretty tough slog for English teachers living in America today, probably for English majors in general. The English language and grammar had been taking a beating for decades already around these parts when the Internet Age came along and just made it all worse.
With that introduction, I bring you the words of the Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, opining about the current state of the postseason only days before the 2010 version actually gets underway.
“We have less teams than any other sport in the playoffs,” said the Commish, seemingly ignoring the groans of all those aforementioned English teachers. “Eight teams make the playoffs. One wild card in each league. We certainly haven’t abused anything,” he concluded.
(Ernie Banks always wanted to play two but ended up playing none at all when it came to the postseason. Any excuse to show Graig Kreindler's amazing artwork is OK by me. www.Graigkreindler.com)
I assume he’s not including the English language in that blanket pronouncement. And setting aside my initial complaint about his sentence construction, the fact that Major League Baseball has fewer teams in the playoffs than might be the case in other professional sports is probably a case of setting the bar just a wee bit too low.
It’s certainly convenient math, if not necessarily sound math. When there were 16 teams in Major League Baseball, two would make it to the postseason, which we quaintly called the World Series back then.
Now that there are roughly twice as many teams (30), there are four times as many teams that make it to the postseason. So maybe it’s not just English that is getting abused here; math and logic are taking a beating as well.
This is customarily known as floating a trial balloon, which typically means that the powers that be are already well on board with the idea and have now determined how to sell it to the hoi polloi.
I’m pretty sure that’s what the president of the Indianapolis Colts was up to the other day as well when he offered his view that the 18-game regular-season schedule for his working stiffs in the National Football League was a done deal. Only he called it a “fait accompli,” which goes to show you that we’ve collectively started to get more comfortable with Frenchy-sounding stuff after our post-9/11 insanity period of renaming French Fries to something a bit more patriotic.
But President Bill Polian has backtracked quite a bit from that late-September view, or maybe we should say scrambled about in the pocket trying to salvage a broken play.
Turns out, even though he’s probably not kidding that the guys who run the show have decided that 18 games is the way to go, that the NFL Players Association might want to have a say in the matter, since it will be (a conscious choice of words) their guys who take the pounding that will come when two previously meaningless exhibition games are turned into the real thing.
And as trial balloons go, this one is seemingly particularly inept and almost remarkably ill-timed, given that there’s already plenty of buzz about a possible work stoppage next year because of an inability to come to terms with the union.
It also seems silly, since getting fans to sign on to the idea also seems like a done deal (no Frenchy stuff for me). Know any NFL fans who would object to two knucklehead preseason games being turned into actual NFL contests?
I didn’t think so.