It's okay to ignore the Baseball Hall of Fame

January 21, 2022

The thing about the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is that the Hall of Fame has lost most of its meaning in recent years, and the museum is thoroughly mediocre — or at least it was when I went, in 2016. Both problems are tied to how fans consume baseball today and, by extension, how consensus develops about certain players’ greatness and overall worthiness.

Are multi-purpose stadiums really gone for good?

January 14, 2022

(Quick note to start: If you’re a baseball fan, I highly recommend Craig Calcaterra’s
Cup of Coffee newsletter. It’s a great way to keep up with the broad baseball conversation, but he also brings up a wide variety of other topics for spice. Overall, I look forward to reading it every morning and think it’s well worth the purchase price. Also, one of the subscriber perks is that if you buy a certain piece of merch from him, you can submit a guest essay, which I did, and he published it Friday morning. My thesis: The institutions that grapple with COVID-19 most publicly are probably professional sports leagues, which in turn distorts our experience with the virus.

Now, on with today’s post…)

Pro sports teams don’t like multi-use stadiums. Part of it may be a reaction to the concrete ring stadiums built in the 1960s and 1970s that were designed to host multiple sports, and which tended to feel cavernous and hostile to any event, especially baseball. But I suspect a bigger element is that building a sport-specific ballpark is a statement of purpose and stature, that this is a place for that sport, specifically, and therefore the team that plays here matters — even though owners will absolutely use the facility for as many other uses as they can.

That said, I wonder if we’re due for a rebirth of multi-purpose stadiums.

What the Grinch movies get wrong about the Grinch

December 12, 2021

Recently, writer Jesse Spector surfaced one of the most cursed tweets of this, or any, Christmas season. Behold: police “arresting” the Grinch.

As Jesse correctly noted — with appropriate profanity — the biggest point of the Grinch story is that he learns the spirit of Christmas and redeems himself. Having police arrest the Grinch is bitter irony for those of us who believe the American carceral state holds too much sway in the popular imagination, because arresting and jailing the Grinch mostly forecloses upon his opportunities for redemption and improvement, and it's deeply dispiriting to see that display lauded as some kind of happy conclusion.

Jesse’s tweet inspired me to revisit Dr. Seuss’s book, and a few things occurred to me while reading. It’s very good as these things go — in the Seuss canon, I put How the Grinch Stole Christmas! behind only Horton Hears a Who!, The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham — but I also think the two major movies that have been made based on it fall short in specific ways that may be contributing to people thinking of the Grinch as merely an antisocial asshole.