The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant has traversed so many time zones we lost track of the concept of Wednesday. Faithful Ranatics will remember we have been among the ivy perfecting our wordsmithing, But our forge only burns so long, and our liver began searching Zillow for, shall we say, a drier climate, so it was time to come home. The Rant always feels humbled by the gracious help and support of fellow writers that operate on a much higher plane than we do.
Baseball, a sport that feels like sheep still maintain the grass in the outfield, got itself all tangled up in the digital age in our absence. A fan of our beloved Royals figured out a way to rig the All-Star vote so that the entire team and a hot dog vendor will be starting for the American League. Apparently Pablo Sandoval had grown tired of watching his mediocre Red Sox teammates and began liking pictures of women on Instagram during a game.1
Then The Rant was shocked, shocked, to learn one team was trying to gain an edge over the other. Only in this case, instead of some craftily applied Vaseline to the ball or some strategic corking of the bat, the St. Louis Cardinals hacked a former employee that now works for the Houston Astros for data, the great talisman of sport these days. As our favorite Irish scribe Charles Pierce notes, at least in the old days you had to do some actual manual labor to steal an advantage.
The Rant has nothing against the use of math and stats in the pursuit of greater excellence, but it seems to us that lately pundits spend much more time discussing what should have happened based on the numbers instead of what actually did happen out on the field.
Eventually teams will start drafting embryos based on DNA projections, and players will receive a full year’s worth of stats based on a full-body scan and submersion in a performance tank filled with nanobots. Very soon we’ll dispense with playing the games at all, and The Rant will receive an email informing us of the outcome of championships for the next decade. All that will be left are the award ceremonies and parades. Then everyone, including Pablo, will have the free time for Instagram galore.