Strike One, You’re Out!

September 30, 2007 at 10:24 pm · Filed under Drawing / Illustration, Print / Editorial


This man is a professional athlete.

Let me just say this right off the bat (so to speak): I don’t much like baseball. I find it boring. For a professional sport, there are a disproportionate number of noticeably overweight players, and it’s not surprising why: it’s clearly not very challenging in terms of cardiovascular fitness requirements. In case you aren’t familiar with the game, here’s a snapshot of a typical play (one man on first, one on deck):

The batter walks casually to the plate.
The catcher and the umpire crouch down.
The batter takes a few very slow, deliberate practice swings, seemingly showing the pitcher exactly where he wants the ball to be thrown.
The catcher makes some hand signals in his crotch.
The pitcher watches these signals and very subtly shakes his head several times.
The catcher makes more hand signals in his crotch.
The pitcher very subtly nods his head.
The pitcher starts his windup.
The pitcher turns to his left and tosses the ball ever so gently to the first-baseman as the base-runner, who had been about six steps away from said base returns to his position actually on the base before the ball gets there.
The first baseman tosses the ball back to the pitcher.
The base runner resumes the exact same position six steps away from first base.
The pitcher returns his attention to the catcher.
The catcher makes more crotch signals.
The pitcher again refuses the vast majority of these signals, but finally lowers his head to confirm his intent to actually… pitch.
The pitcher winds up and throws the ball to the batter.
The batter does nothing.

This is an actual play! How can people watch this?!!

Depending on if and how the batter hits the ball during the rest of his “at-bat,” this basic process can literally go on forever (there is no limit to the number of mis-hits, or “balls,” allotted to the hitter). Multiply this play by whatever number you want (there is also no limit on how many runs can be scored in an inning) and then multiply that by at least nine innings – per team (but there is no limit on those, either, so if the game is tied, it can go 12 or 13 innings, easy).

However loooong the game ends up being, there are really only two or three players out of at least 10 on the field that are ever doing any kind of activity at the same time, and it’s very brief when it happens. The rest of them are just standing around. If the guy who hits the ball isn’t very good at running, it’s no problem; they just get a “pinch” runner to run for him. If the pitcher gets tired or starts pitching badly, they just bring in another one (no limit on those, either). And almost every position on the field has a specific “coach” in the game to consult on what a player should do there, so strategic thinking isn’t a necessary skill, either.

Let’s just get to the point: This has got to be the laziest sport in the world. How did this become our national pastime? Have any of these national pastime people ever seen a game of basketball? Or table tennis? Pac-Man? Anything?

Luckily, I once had an opportunity to turn my frustration for Major League Baseball into one of my favorite design projects…

Major League Baseball Strike editorial cartoon

editorial cartoon: Major League Baseball Strike | pencil on paper / 1995
(The faint red splatter is due to an unfortunate spill and is not part of the concept.)

This project was not done for a design client or even a design class, but for one of my high school English courses. The assignment was to create an editorial cartoon for a newspaper based on prominent events of the time. One of these events was the great (and I mean great) Major League Baseball strike of 1994/1995 that nulled a complete season, including the “World Series” (which, by the way, only involves teams from most—but not all—of the U.S. states and possibly one or two from Canada). To this day, I’m pretty unclear as to who started this thing; I was just glad that it happened: The less baseball on TV, and in the daily lexicon of social banter, the better. But, I was also annoyed, as were many actual baseball fans, because it was all about money—a lot of money. But, apparently not enough of a lot of money for said lazy players. (I will admit that this is a pretty standard, knee-jerk reaction to these types of events, and that there was more than one side to the story, but the other side isn’t that compelling, either.)

My cartoon, here, should be pretty straightforward. You’ve got your batter (who is, of course, a big fat baby) swinging his most cherished bat (the dollar bill) and actually hitting something: himself. The impact produces a single, self-pitying tear from the batter, who fails to recognize that the percussion of his action has rang far deeper than in his own head, but has in fact irrevocably damaged the record and credibility of America’s most (questionably) beloved sport.


  1. jen said,

    October 1, 2007 at 3:15 am

    I don’t know what you’re talking about Dan. I think you’re all sour grapes. Baseball changed my cousin’s life!
    He loved baseball from the beginning, and worked hard towards playing ball with the big boys (what I mean is, he liked playing baseball and didn’t like learning how to read, so he ignored everything except baseball). He played in the very minors for a couple of years, then was uninvited back, or however that works.
    What’s really great is, now that he’s in his late 30s he weighs 300 pounds, is married to the woman he got pregnant 4 years ago, and drives a snack truck around to construction sites in Arizona. Where he played baseball. That’s a fine life, all inspired by and a result of the glorious, all-american greatest game on earth: baseball.

    Sour grapes, Dan. They don’t make anyone happy.

  2. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    October 1, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    Somebody get that boy a slice of apple pie!

  3. jgraup said,

    October 2, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Wow… I guess this is a bad time to mention my 11 years of playing baseball. True, I will admit that watching baseball is a snore, but playing is a bit different. Considering you have to stand there so long with nothing happening, if you aren’t fully aware for those limitless innings; you’ll most likely make an error, loose the game, and be shunned by your teammates. Let’s not forget back-to-back games and windups that runners steal home on – arg!

    Now for the laziest sport in the world – consider golf! How does that game go? Ooh right… someone is hitting a ball to a hole (repeat).

    As for cardiovascular fitness requirements, you’re right; it’s far less intensive than other sports. But consider all the handicapped people out there – myself included. Because of a heart condition it was the only sport I was allowed to play without someone thinking I might die.

    All that aside, I can imagine why you might feel this way; maybe you’ve never hit multiple homeruns or thrown a ball 75mph at a 13yo from 60ft. away, who knows? What I do know is that if you can throw hard enough to cut your finger with the threads of the ball in only three batters, you’ll feel different. I’ll show you the scar one of these days.

    Ahh, good times. Now where did I put that pie…

  4. Daniel P. Johnston said,

    October 2, 2007 at 9:01 pm

    Well, jgraup, I think I can agree with everything you said and still not contradict any of my original post. I never said baseball was easy, and, like most sports, it is much more fun to play than watch (even if you are watching most of the time that you’re playing). And, yes, of course golf is more boring than baseball, but I’ve never heard of a golfers’ strike, and I’ve also never heard anyone call it America’s national pastime.

    I do commend you and anyone else who is really good at anything competitive – be it baseball, golf, Chutes & Ladders, or whatever. especially if you have a physical disability! Although, I’ve heard about some adventures much more harrowing than your average baseball game coming from you and your heart condition…

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment