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Funbag

What If A Baseball Game Literally Never Ended?

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about home bars, championship swag, Elon Musk, farting at a urinal, and more.

Your letters:

Gabe:

Let’s say during a regular season MLB game in mid-June, in the top of the fourth, the away team starts scoring runs and just doesn’t stop. No one makes an out, and dozens upon dozens of runs keep piling up as the top of the fourth drags on for hours. For whatever reason the hitting team refuses to make a few easy outs, grinding out runs despite the now massive lead. How long (either in time or runs scored) would this have to go on before MLB intervenes?

They wouldn’t have to, because the team on the receiving end of that nightmare half-inning would come out of the dugout to physically murder the winning team. That’s one of the foremost unwritten rules of baseball: Don’t score TOO many runs, because everyone playing would like to go home at a reasonable hour. It’s why Tony La Russa got mad at his OWN player last year when that player had the gall to hit a grand slam when the White Sox were already up by 11 runs. Even the winning team only wants so much baseball on any given night. Eventually, the winning part gets tiresome and they just wanna go home to drink a beer and jerk off. It’s only human, even if Tony La Russa himself is not.

But let’s say the other team, against all odds, keeps their composure throughout this beatdown and continue to let themsevles get pummeled until the sun explodes.

This is something that can technically happen in baseball, since it has no clock. What would happen if one team exploited that fact to drag a single half-inning into infinity is that everyone would go insane. The players. The coaches. The fans in attendance. Even I would go insane. I wouldn’t watch a lick of this game, but I’d check ESPN.com every few hours to see if it was still ongoing, and those updates would do my head in. I have always been daunted by the idea of forever. It unnerves me on an existential level. I’ve already reckoned with the notion of death being forever and have made peace with it (nearly dying assisted in that regard). But the idea of being ALIVE forever—and a shitty baseball game doing likewise—makes my asshole tight enough to block a pushpin. I don’t like thinking about it. I know I wouldn’t like witnessing it firsthand. I get angry when a movie lasts too long, know what I mean? I am not built for interminable time periods. I need to take breaks to check my phone and what have you. Life in America is already far too relentless.

Matthew:

Finely—or “fancy”—shredded cheese doesn’t make nearly as good of microwave nachos as standard-grated cheese. I just formed this opinion; I will stand by it forever.

You actually have science to back you up there. Every shred of packaged cheese is coated in cellulose to prevent the shreds from sticking together while in transit or while sitting in the grocery store case. Nobody wants to buy a giant clump of cheese that can’t be disentangled, so the cellulose—often sourced from byproducts of wood and/or cotton—makes it more aesthetically and tactilely pleasing.

But everything good about that preservative sucks for nachos, because that’s when you DO want the cheese shreds to melt into one another. The cellulose interferes with that process, which is why you can end up with outlines of the shreds in the finished nacho product. Like a nuclear holocaust shadow.

The good news is that nachos are still nachos, and therefore good no matter how much wood pulp is introduced into the process. My kids prefer finely shredded cheese to thicker shreds, so I that’s what I buy. It’s also easier than grating cheese by hand, which makes for tastier nachos but is also a pain in the ass. The only shortcut I don’t take is that I don’t nuke my nachos. I use the toaster oven. I’m not some dickhead Alice Waters type who’s like OH HEAVENS I DON’T EVEN OWN A MICROWAVE! Those people are annoying. But I only like a microwave for reheating shit. If it’s the primary cooking element for an original plate of food, it’s gonna turn out worse than if you do it the old-fashioned way. Also, it ain’t like toaster-oven nachos take 40 minutes to cook. Wait a few minutes and HEY PRESTO! A tray of quality nachos are ready for your enjoyment.

This has been Nacho Business With Drew. Join us again next week for more discussion in the field of nacho innovation.

Matt:

Now that Dan Campbell has drafted Penei Sewell and Aidan Hutchinson in consecutive drafts, how soon will it be until they square off in their own Oklahoma drill? I set the over/under at two minutes from now. I’m sending this literally as the Lions have drafted Hutchinson. 

He can’t. The NFL banned the Oklahoma Drill from practices three years ago, which is a frighteningly recent decision on the league’s end. I’m sure that Dan Campbell, one of the duller blades in the NFL knife block, was horrified by this decision. Here’s footage of him running that same drill in Miami seven years ago. There are coaches who enjoy treating their own players like they’re GI Joe dolls, and Campbell is one of them.

The good news—I feel like good news is needed on this particular day—is that the Rams just won a Super Bowl in part because of how LITTLE they practice.

The Rams’ commitment to workload management involves tracking each rep they do in the training room and every play they get in practice and games… step overload often factors into the team’s decision to cancel workouts and practice sessions. 

Bear Bryant is denying himself water in his grave, he’s so outraged by this development. But deep into any NFL season, there’s very little you can accomplish with practice. These are NFL players. They know how to do their jobs. They need rest and they need decent game plans. You have to get them into football shape—which I assure you is a real thing—during training camp. But you can do that without staging a fucking Kumite in the middle of a practice field. Perhaps Dan Campbell has evolved in his methods since that Hard Knocks clip. Then again, drafting Hutchinson probably gave him such a massive war boner that he won’t be able to help himself. Let’s call it July for when he runs that drill off the grid.

John:

Why is Elon Musk such an asshole?

Does there really need to be an explanation? Maybe his dad was unloving or something. I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t stay up at night wondering what makes Elon Musk tick. I’m not gonna find young Anakin Skywalker hiding beneath all of his bullshit. And even if I did, what difference would it make? I don’t wanna be SAD for Elon Musk. He’s just a needy prick. I’m sure his success has helped make him that way, as it has every other billionaire who loves nothing more than to manufacture a chip on their shoulder. But anything deeper than that is of no concern to me.

I also don’t think much about Twitter will change with him in charge. He’ll let Trump back on, along with other assorted wingnut trash, and he’ll keep tweeting out garbage from his own account to trigger the libs. But the guys who owned Twitter before Elon were not exactly paragons of morality. The Elon Musk era of Twitter will not be your first rodeo with trolling, botched abuse reports, and general mismanagement of that platform. All of that was there before. At least now you KNOW there’s a piece of shit in charge of the thing, instead of a fakeass kombucha drinker who pretends to have good intentions. You don’t get to pretend that you’re a victim of Twitter’s fuckery anymore. You ARE the fuckery. I don’t want the Milos of the world unleashed back onto Twitter. But plenty of dipshits were already there to begin with, and remain there. That is the last backhanded defense I give of Elon Musk. That racist-ass, electric Pinto-making pile of shit.

Levi:

I was recently using a urinal in a public restroom when a gentleman several urinals away from me ripped ass like it was a normal thing to do. My initial reaction was this is not allowed. But is it? The more I think about it, the more I am starting to change my mind. Is there social protocol in place here that I’m not aware of?

It’s a bathroom, man. What do you expect people to do in there? I don’t walk into any public bathroom and think to myself, “I can’t believe people are farting in this place! AND WHY DOES IT SMELL SO BAD AROUND HERE?”

I’ll rip ass at a urinal. It’s hard not to. You’re loosening your pelvic floor muscles to let that piss out. Other things are bound to escape in the process. I don’t flinch when other dudes fart next to me. I only get my dander up if some dude is taking a dump in the next stall over and watching a video with no headphones on. I’d rather you just shit on the floor than subject me to YouTube audio out in the wild. Have some goddamn manners.

Speaking of toilets …

Tom:

I remember a few years back you were a huge proponent of fiber supplements like Metamucil, are you still a fan? I just started taking it and HOLY SHIT is it amazing, I look forward to pooping everyday!

Right? Once you go fiber, you never go back. I switched from Metamucil to Citrucel to combat excessive farting (and it was REALLY excessive, and not just at urinals; I got comments from the family), but otherwise keep to my fiber routine with more discipline than a Marine. I even take my fiber on business trips. In the beginning, I used to spoon it into a Ziploc bag and put it in my suitcase. I was DYING for a TSA agent to mistake my Citrucel for uncut heroin so that I could depants them with the benign truth of the matter. Then I switched to fiber pills for every road trip. Much easier to pack. And THAT is my incredible story.

But the point stands. If you’re over 30 and you’re like, “I don’t know why I haven’t been able to shit for three days!” it’s not because you won’t stop eating at Qdoba. It’s because you need to get onto the fiber train.

Please note that you can overdo it. One time I bought a box of Raisin Bran Crunch, one of the most delicious cereals on the open market. But eating that plus taking Citrucel provided too much roughage. I paid handsomely for the mistake. A pity. I really like that cereal.

Reid:

I just had a consultation with a doctor for a vasectomy that I plan to have done in the next few months. When explaining the procedure and describing how they will cut the sperm producing tube, vas deferens, but not my other tube he said I would still produce ‘cum juice’. He used that phrase twice. Should I look for another doctor? 

Nah. Looking for another doctor is a pain in the ass. Besides, as I found during my own vasectomy, every urologist in the world think they’re a comedian. It’s why they got into urology in the first place: for the dick jokes. So even if you ditch the cum juice doctor, your next one will still be like, Cuttin’ off the baby batter supply, are you? You sure you don’t wanna keep adding some mayo to your tuna tacos?! You’re not gonna avoid that kinda schtick, and frankly I’d rather get that from my doctor than the usual prickish bedside manner you get from surgeons in other disciplines. Urologists already know how uncomfortable you are getting your scrotum cut open. They’re trying their best to soothe your angst by busting out a cut-rate Rodney Dangerfield impression. It doesn’t always work, but I do appreciate the effort.

HALFTIME!

Nick:

Do men with short hair really need to wash with shampoo? I understand if you have dandruff or if your hair is actually dirty after playing an epic backyard football game in the mud, but otherwise shouldn’t washing with hot water be sufficient to save you time and money? I feel like this is a practice I started when I was young and BIG SHAMPOO then brainwashed (pun definitely intended) me into continuing it into adulthood. 

You have to wash your hair every day if you meet certain criteria, like if your hair is oily (I think mine is, although only in random and unfortunate places), or if you have chronic dandruff (check). Otherwise, you can go the full hippie and let your hair marinate for a few days before washing it again. You also get the privilege of sharing your discovery with other people in the hope that it’ll blow their minds, which it won’t. I know I love it when people come up to me and are like, “Bro, shampoo and deodorant are LIES, bro.” Changes my whole line of thinking, every time.

As for me, I’d still wash my hair every day even if my hair wasn’t sporadically oily and ravaged by dandruff (PRO TIP: My dermo said to use different dandruff shampoos in a rotation every day in the shower to get rid of that shit, and they were correct). I’m so used to washing my hair daily that I’d FEEL dirty abandoning the practice, even if that were scientifically untrue. I like the so-fresh feeling I get from washing my hair. Makes me feel bouncy. I also enjoy the ritual of it. I like getting my hair wet. I like lathering up my scalp real good and then scooping up a pile of suds in my hand. I like running my soapy hair under the warm water. I like feeling the lather run down my torso to give me some bonus clean. I’m a “process not result” kinda guy in that regard. Also, daily shampooing gives me license to treat non-shampooers like they’re auditioning to be the lead singer of Big Mountain and shit.

Mike:

If the Vikings win the NFC, do you buy the NFC CHAMPIONS hat? Or do you wait a couple weeks to see how they do in the Super Bowl? Isn’t NFC/AFC/NATIONAL LEAGUE/AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONS gear is basically conceding that your team lost the Super Bowl/World Series?

Yeah I’d never buy any of that garbage. Even if my team WON the Super Bowl (fat chance), I wouldn’t buy any of the title swag. All of it is ugly. All of it is rendered instantly out-of-date, and in fact embarrassing, the second your team goes back to being a laughingstock.

Also, and this is the most important part, everyone already KNOWS if your team won a title recently. If I walk by a Steelers fan in the airport, I don’t think to myself, “Oh man, that team has six titles! I didn’t know that!” Of course I know that. Everyone knows that. Even the dead know that. Win enough titles and the name of your franchise also doubles as its resume. If you need your shirt to say anything beyond “New England Patriots,” well then you’re exactly as pathetic as every Pats fan I’ve ever encountered out in the wild. All title swag is crap unless A) you’re eight years old, or B) you’re on the title team in question and you just won that title. For everyone else, take it to Poshmark. You’re embarrassing yourself otherwise.

Rob:

Which sport is helped most by hearing the natural in-action sounds? Like, if the TV was muted or you’re in a crowded bar, which sport suffers most?

Hockey. Not close. You need hockey sounds to get into the hockey. I hear skates scraping the ice and sticks clanging and my brain knows that something fast and violent is about to happen. I have to look up. Put hockey on mute and I’m watching a dog show.

JJ:

Now that BIG COFFEE has its hooks in you, can we get a definitive ranking of coffee-based drinks? Americano, mocha, macchiato, latte… who ya got? And are these like the cappuccino: only out-of-house options for you?

I have only just begun my old man coffee odyssey, so I haven’t had many of the other coffees out there. Like a flat white. I still don’t know what a flat white even is. I like regular coffee and cappuccinos so much that I don’t see the need to explore much beyond them. Then again, it took me four decades to love coffee to begin with, so perhaps I’m missing out on even bolder flavors. All I know is that I’ll never adulterate my coffee with vanilla syrups or any of that other Dunkin’ Donuts mixer bullshit. I’m here for the coffee and the coffee alone. If I wanted a goddamn milkshake, then I would have bought myself a milkshake.

Also, I am now a big cappuccino truther who believes that many of the cappuccinos I order are not cappuccinos at all. They’re clearly lattes. They tossed some foamy milk on top of a cup of drip coffee, told me it was a cappuccino, and then called it a day. Well you listen to me, baristas of the world: I’m onto your game. I know what kinda stunt you’re trying to pull. Sure, I’ll still drink that latte and never mention the crime committed to anyone. But I know what you’ve done, and I hope you can live with yourself knowing that you let me down. Such a disappointment.

Austin:

Can we just get rid of wins and losses as a pitching stat? Most starters don’t go more than five innings anyway.

Your average baseball freak already knows to ignore wins and losses and has for years now, if not decades. Even Cy Young voters don’t care about wins and losses anymore. But you’ll never see MLB itself get rid of that stat, nor TV networks. And do you know why? Because of people like me. I know wins and losses inconsequential, but you better believe I shit a brick if some starting pitcher 10 ten games in a row, or threatens to win more than 20 games in a single season. That’s when the boyhood Twins fan in me pops out and marvels at that stat in freakish delight. It’s such a simple stat, with simple numbers. I crave such things.

The more complex a stat is, the more likely I am to reflexively doubt it. To this day, I couldn’t tell you how they calculate WAR. I know it’s important and I know what it means, but the recipe for WAR is as elusive to me as the Colonel’s blend of 11 herbs and spices. Wins, by contrast, are self-explanatory. That’s very appealing to someone as lazy as I am. DURRR DON’T GIVE ME ALL THESE FANCY FORMULAS POINDEXTER JUST TELL ME IF THIS GUY WINS BALLGAMES!

I’m the same way with football, by the way. I respect and use advanced metrics, but it’s far more comforting to me when those metrics are presented in the form of some kind of overall ranking. Otherwise, I revert instantly to yardage totals and other dated shit. Sometimes it’s more fun to be a dinosaur.

Jon:

What forms of hazing are most useful for actually building camaraderie? Obviously beer bongs and sexual misconduct are out and surely the NFL rookie dinners are just stupid, but there’s gotta be some bits of it that are useful?

Well wait, let’s not rule out beer bongs entirely. It’s one thing to make pledges eat a bowl of Wheaties soaked in tequila (actual hazing ritual at a school I once attended). But if your hazing ritual is, “Here, funnel this Miller Lite!” I’m not gonna disapprove. And I quit drinking, mind you. I don’t endorse giving people alcohol poisoning, [Stephen A. voice] BUT! … if you wanna mandate a freshman do an extended kegstand if they wanna join Chugga Jerka Gropa, I’m not gonna snitch. I support RESPONSIBLE binge drinking, as we all do. And if you wanna force your new teammates to sing out loud in the school cafeteria, I think that also falls under the spectrum of “fraternal shitgiving.” A broomstick up the ass, less so.

I don’t remember any of the hazing I received—or any of the hazing that I doled out—to be all that useful in terms of character building. The lightest hazing ritual I had to endure was when I was a high school freshman in Minnesota and our school had a thing called “Senior-Nine,” in which every freshman got assigned a senior and had to do their light bidding for a week. Mine made me go around to every girl and tell them, verbatim, “I’m your frosh prince.” It was deeply embarrassing, but I lived. I’m not BETTER for it, but I lived.

The worst hazing I was subjected to in school (or that I subjected others to) wasn’t even formalized hazing. It was random shit, like another football player duct taping me at random while we were all hanging out, or me forcing a prep school freshman to answer the dorm payphone for me. None of that shit builds character. All of it is just kids getting off on treating other kids like shit. The only hazing I DID find useful was, like, two-a-days in football. Did you know some coaches out there make you practice TWICE? In one day? All so you can, “make the team.” Some might call that flagrant abuse. But, in hindsight, when I needed an hour to walk down a flight of steps the next morning, I know that was Coach Buzzcut making a man out of me. I’m so grateful to him for that.

Sean:

I just got some piece of marketing drivel proclaiming that tequila is the foundation of any home bar. I call bullshit! Though an avowed whiskey drinker, the foundation of any home bar should be vodka, right? I can make a fuckload of different drinks with vodka than I can with any other spirit. As a former partaker of alcohol, what say you? Also, do you have a spirits ranking? 

If you have just one type of liquor in your home bar, you don’t have a home bar. You have a dorm room. Lemme go Esquire Mode on you and tell you what belongs in a grownup home bar:

  • Whiskey (your choice of type; I always preferred bourbon)
  • Rum
  • Vodka
  • Tequila
  • Gin
  • Brandy
  • Vermouth
  • Bottle of Angostura bitters
  • A couple of random things for specific cocktails you might like (Grand Marnier, cachaça, etc.)

That’s a full service bar. The first five items on that list are the foundation. I also ranked those five in order of my old personal preferences. Whiskey is the best. Vodka is the most versatile. Gin is repulsive. But you get yourself a home bar so that MANY people can drink from it, and not just you. I always enjoyed having people over and mixing them up some fancy cocktails. Made me feel all cosmopolitan (no pun intended), and it helped get rid of the gin. We also had a bottle of elderflower liqueur in there to make a special drink whose name I have long since forgotten. The liqueur is still sitting in our pantry, untouched for years. You can buy it off of me for $30 if you want.

Email of the week!

James:

Now that the DH has infiltrated every level of baseball that I ever care to watch, it’s finally time for me to let the world know how much smarter I am than every single baseball manager over the last 120 years: For as long as baseball has been around, it seems that the people submitting lineup cards have always just plotted the pitcher into the #9 spot in the order. Here is how I would have revolutionized the game: When submitting the lineup card as the road team, I would have put yesterday’s starting pitcher in the #9 spot. Once you get to that spot in the order, you pinch hit for him. Sure, that situation wouldn’t have come along very often, but there is literally zero downside. Or am I missing something?

You’d have to bat around in the bottom of the first to make that plan work. Otherwise, yesterday’s pitcher would actually have to pitch the top of the second. And then what if the other team keeps scoring runs off of him and never stops?