Thursday, June 30, 2022

MLB Star Power Index: Notre Dame’s Alex Rao offers a MasterClass; Arby’s saves the Tigers from themselves

Welcome to the MLB Star Power Index — a weekly undertaking that determines with awful authority which players are dominating the current zeitgeist of the sport, at least according to the narrow perceptions of this miserable scribe. While one’s presence on this list is often celebratory in nature, it can also be for purposes of lamentation or ridicule. This week’s honorees …

Alex Rao, Notre Dame

The litany of human scourges grows daily. It is too vast to contemplate. It is an ocean made of water droplets that are each the breadth of the universe. It stretches beyond the heavens, Babel atop a billion other Babels (the tower, not the javascript compiler) — beyond even the temporal edge of all that is, was, and is not. Somewhere near the unknowable top of that list is the notion of accountability. 

Long fetishized as a virtue, accountability has made a hash of once happy lives, children weep and gnash teeth, and fluffy puppies into scolded, purgatorial hounds. Would that we could scrub it from existence with a cleansing pumice!

You see, nothing transforms the Solid-Ass Nights into Lame Days quite like surveying recent decisions, pairing them with regrettable consequences, and then announcing to all available gods that you are so very sorry and shall now abuse yourself with a spiked implement of penance. Yet there is no need for such dispiriting rituals. The only acceptable response to a mistake is to deny it ever happened or, in lieu of the ideal, foist the onus upon a bystander. 

Thankfully, Notre Dame moundsman Alex Rao is there for those with nowhere left to turn — i.e., the stinking remainder of humanity. Now please observe as Monsieur Rao provides us with a graduate-level seminar in considering one’s mistakes and then considering something way cooler: 

To summarize unnecessarily what you just saw above and to advance the word count of this piece toward the bare minimum, Rao unfurled like a battle flag a wild pitch that was, as stated nine words before this one, a wild pitch. At this point, he could have, in keeping with the lamentable traditions of Sports Weaklings, tapped his sternum in a gesture of self-blame. Rao, though, is made of sterner stuff than that. He also could have requested time, seized the house mic, and declared in a town crier’s bray, “I wasn’t there, so it wasn’t me.” 

Instead, Rao took the highest of roads and mouthed “passed ball” in full view of the lidless eye of televised sports programming. Miserable nerds who still have their milk teeth might decry this as a betrayal of his battery-mate, but betrayal in the service of Good Living is no betrayal at all. 

If the afflicted catcher wishes to do and be better moving forward, then the next time this happens he’ll remove his mask, locate and turn to the camera lens, and — before ambling at a frontier lawman’s pace to retrieve the ball — mouth, “wild pitch.” Really, the catcher should be thanking Rao for this free-of-charge, graduate-level seminar in blame-shifting. The only misfortune to be found in this sequence of events is that Rao didn’t mouth “passed ball” directly to his catcher just before aiming and delivering the pitch to where not even outer-space eagles dare. 

The Detroit Tigers

Nothing gets the people of this republic stomping, clapping, and shouting unifying slogans quite like the promise of free fried potatoes that otherwise would’ve cost upwards of $1.80 depending upon the jurisdictional taxing authority. If, however, the purveyance of those free fried potatoes hinges upon the Detroit Tigers reaching certain offensive benchmarks in the year 2022, then those unifying slogans quickly become torch-lit cries for blood. Thankfully, Arby’s, providers of fine American hot foodstuffs, is here to save the Tigers from themselves and by extension from our violent reprisals. Please regard: 

To preempt some calls to customer service: No, this tweet and the structural change it addresses is not new. The author, who can hardly be bothered about all sorts of things, does not care. What is important is the accusation that Arby’s, in order to put curly fries in gaping American maws forthwith, has reduced what is required of Detroit batsmen. Three home runs in a game? Sirs and Madams, these are the Detroit Tigers of 2022; you may as well require three Pre-Raphaelite painters to punch their way out of the grave. Three total runs is a more fitting standard, at least if the goal is to give the piggy-piggy people hot, fresh — and free — fries. 

And, piggy-piggy people, don’t you know that’s the goal? 

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