’Tis the season, or the post-season — in baseball. I talk with George F. Will about this in a Q&A podcast, here. No one talks better, about anything. That’s because no one thinks better. (People tend to forget that the two are linked.)
When we talked, Will had one eye on the MLB Network — maybe two. He said, however, that he could “multi-task,” which he can.
Before getting to the post-season, we talk about the season, of course. Will says it was a very good one — but with an asterisk attached to it. There were so many home runs. That which ought to be exciting was somewhat routine, even boring.
“The ball is weird this year,” he says. He would do something about it. He’d also expand the strike zone and push the fences back. He has other reforms, too.
Among his many thought-provoking statements is this: “I want to make baseball safe for Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn again.” These were guys who “sprayed the ball around the ballpark.”
Is the season too long? Yes, says Will. Someday, the Minnesota Twins will make the World Series. They’ll be playing in Minnesota, without a roof, in late October and early November. Thus, the “crown jewel of baseball,” namely the World Series, will be a “laughingstock” as the ball gets lost in the snow.
Are there Hall of Famers about today? Future Hall of Famers? Indeed — even if you have strict standards of admission, as Will would (and I would). Mike Trout is an immortal. Justin Verlander will be admitted in the first round. Etc.
Thinking about valuable players past, Will reflects on Rickey Henderson. People usually don’t pick him for their All-Time 9. They should, though. Does Will have favorite players today who are not future Hall of Famers — just lovable or admirable players? Sure. Ryan Zimmerman is one.
Eventually, I bring up a sore point. To put it another way, I touch America’s rawest nerve — race. Is there a paucity of black Americans in baseball today? Yes, says Will, and he goes into why. How about the attraction of the game to Latin Americans? Another fascinating subject.
Toward the end of our conversation, departing from baseball for a moment, I ask about the NBA and China. George Will blasts away, as only he can blast. The podcast as a whole is a blast, I think. Give it a try (again, here).
P.S. Many readers will recognize the title of this post. It comes from the best-selling, quickly canonical book that Will published in 1990: Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball.