Danville, Kentucky- In 1968, you could find out a lot about a man by asking one question: what position do you play? Contraposed against the violence on the streets of America and in the jungles of Vietnam, one could peacefully reply with his actual position. In my case, I'd reply second base, though I dabbled in pitching my junior year of High School. For others, regardless of where he roamed, he could reply with an actual position. Yet, today, we have no positions. We only have the shift.
The shift advances like the decline of the Southern Democrat. Years ago, men played a position. When he said second base, he was charged with fielding balls hit to his part of the right side of the infield. Beyond that primary task, the man knew where to go as the cut off man, and where to deal with the potential uncertainty of a poorly kept field. Now, well, it gets worse, folks.
Enter, Mike Moustakas. Moose was a man with a travel plan, and his destination was Dong Town. In his first seasons, Moose knew where the defense played and he cranked the ball to RF. Yet, in recent years, fielders have betrayed him like my ex-wife betrayed me by wasting a part of both of our paychecks on something called a 401(k). Moose grew up understanding where the fielders were. Moose grew up knowing that he could smack a ball in the right field gap. If that wasn't enough, Moose could blast a ball through the right side. Well, he could until it happened. Until the shift took over.
In 2014, Moose was bad. He was as bad as a Red Lobster that refuses a second to go box for the cheddar biscuits. Why was a man that was so great, suddenly sent to Omaha? Because of the baseball's worst instance of evil, the shift. Suddenly, a Moose that got loose smacking the ball on the right side and focusing on dingers had no avenue to success. Suddenly, Moose was a man in Omaha. All that was left was waiting for George Clooney to fire him.
Moose's story has a happy ending though. As Jeff of Yahoo notes, Moose is crushing the ball again. Yet for many, the story doesn't end so happily. A new generation of kids has to be taught that any chance you have of success can quickly be robbed. A new generation has to be taught that you don't actually play a position, you play wherever the fangraphs says your distribution is unevenly skewed.
Enter David Ortiz. They call him Big Papi. If you're not familiar with his work, he's a three-time champion. He hits dingers like the residents of Danville post-date checks to align with Social Security. Sadly, Ortiz has been robbed of many great hits. David Ortiz should have 500 dingers. Instead, the man had to learn how to barely squibble the ball past the left side. It's time we confront that tragedy like Keanu Reeves confronted his court order: by doing something.
I recently was in a roadrage incident with another man. This man wrongly moved out in front of me. However, this wrong man thought I was the one that actually turned incorrectly. In any event, I knew I was right. However, the man was still behind me in traffic for a minute. As I prepared to turn into Long John Silver's, I realized this man would think he were right if I went to Long John Silver's. No man could possibly believe he were in the wrong if his enemy went to Long John Silver's. So instead, I skipped LJS and headed home in despair.
There's a lesson there, folks. I ended up passing up a wonderful lunch opportunity because I feared what some wrongly moving man would think. However, those of us that refuse to speak out against the shift are doing the same thing. We are passing up the opportunity to watch a wonderful game because some wrongly moving man is in a spot he doesn't belong. It's time to make our words mean something. Second base means second base, again.