Ah, the first week of March, when baseball anticipation begins in earnest. Free agency has waned, Spring Training games have begun, and even changes in the weather call to mind afternoons at the ballpark. You could forgive any baseball fan for failing to choose a Loser of the Week this time of year, because the whole world takes on a sheen of optimism. The Philadelphia 76ers? They’re starting to come around. Aroldis Chapman? He’ll emerge from his suspension a changed man. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? They seem like nice people.
But at least one alleged baseball fan, 91-year-old Phyllis Schlafly, is not feeling the early-March glow. That’s excusable, you’re probably thinking; it’s hard to go to a ballgame at 91, and maybe her advanced age has taught her that spending time with her great-grandchildren is more important than keeping tabs on Trevor Rosenthal’s FIP. Some of you know, though, that Schlafly is a noted advocate for “traditional values,” “traditional marriage,” “traditional families,” and other causes with names in which “traditional” can be swapped out for “narrowly defined so as to justify arbitrary, prejudicial exclusion.”
Unsurprisingly, Mrs. Schlafly also supports traditional baseball, but this has nothing to do with ten-cent tickets or manually operated scoreboards. It’s all about sending those darned Latins back down to Latinville!
In her February 29 radio commentary for the “pro-family” Eagle Forum, Schlafly sets out to prove that American baseball players are just better than those foreign weirdos. She observes that “all six of the six recipients of the top awards this past season are native-born American.”
She doesn’t specify, but she’s probably referring to the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards for each of Major League baseball’s two leagues. And she’s technically correct, if she considers Puerto Rican AL Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa to be American-born, which seems like something she’d only do when it’s convenient to her argument. But she’s also unenlightened to the concept of small sample size, and unaware of the transcendently dominant seasons players like Miguel Cabrera, Pedro Martinez, and Ichiro Suzuki have enjoyed in MLB’s recent history. Even though the random circumstances of their birth didn’t occur within a certain political boundary!
“Some of these players [with whom our youth are less likely to identify] cannot speak English, and they did not rise through the ranks of Little League,” Schlafly continues. You know what, Phyllis? Maybe you’re less likely to identify with them because you’re a Cenozoic bigot, but I think you’re secretly jealous. I think, deep down, you want to be fluent in Spanish, and understand me when I say, “Tu cerebro es totalmente de albondigas.” But you can’t! Ha! I’m just getting warmed up, muchacha. And I refuse to even address the Little League thing. Instead, I’ll let Little League’s official website address it:
“Little League can be found in more than 80 countries worldwide with more than 2.4 million children participating each year.”
80 countries! 2.4 million children WORLDWIDE! Please note that in this context, “world” is not defined as “America,” as much as Mrs. Schlafly might like it to be.
Schlafly later says, “Perhaps baseball owners think foreign players are cheaper and easier to control.” To be fair, she did say “perhaps.” Maybe, in her head, she followed up that statement with, “But perhaps not. In fact, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” But no one edited it out of the recording, so I’ll go ahead and assume that such an asinine statement with zero factual support has the Schlafly stamp of approval. She would probably be surprised to learn that the Texas Rangers paid a reported $51.7 million just to negotiate with Japan’s Yu Darvish, or that Venezuela’s Miguel Cabrera is about to enter the first year of an eight-year, $240 million deal, one of baseball’s richest.
Man, those simpletons from overseas sure are shrewd negotiators! Probably because we taught ’em the American way. Before he came to America, Bartolo Colon didn’t even know which direction to face when pitching. He was just standin’ there, chuckin’ balls into center field, until his ethnically pure pitching coach spun him ’round right. And then we fattened him up, like the real Americans we are.
Here’s another gem Schlafly dusts off when telling us how the foreign infestation has wrecked baseball’s popularity: “Television ratings for World Series games are less than half what they were three decades ago.” THREE DECADES AGO! Back when most American households got three channels, in-home Internet didn’t exist, and the fledgling cable networks employed not-ready-for-primetime doofuses like Chris Berman (thank God those days are gone, right?) During the 1985-86 TV season, the top-rated “Cosby Show” was watched in an average of nearly 29 million households each week. This season’s top program, “NCIS,” averages just 16.9 million total viewers, meaning it’s enjoyed (?) in less than half the number of households that enjoyed (?) “Cosby.” Maybe foreigners are ruining that show, too! No, it’s definitely the goth girl with the Satanic hair and makeup.
“Baseball owners are doing the same thing that big corporations do: Bring in foreign labor to take jobs that ought to go to Americans,” Schlafly says. MLB is doing the same thing that big corporations do? Someone should tell that $36 billion mom-and-pop operation to go back to its roots. She concludes with a call to cut off visas for foreign baseball players, striking a grotesque chord that combines conservative xenophobia with lefty anti-corporate paranoia and protectionism.
On the whole, her radio address is an astoundingly stupid combination of words that differs from most stupid combinations of words in that it was pre-planned. Most of the time, when someone makes statements as insipid as these, they’re extemporaneous, and immediately regretted. But not here. Someone (maybe Phyllis, maybe not) wrote these words, ostensibly read them over once or twice, and then passed them into a studio, where they were read aloud, presumably in the presence of a recording engineer. At no point during this process did author, engineer, reader, or anyone else involved say, “Wait, maybe we shouldn’t say these dumb words. They’re even dumber than the words we usually say, which are pretty dumb to begin with. And I’m not really sure what any of this has to do with our pro-family agenda.” No, everyone just said, “Yay, it’s lunchtime!” and went on their way. The result, a Loser Of The Week, and an early contender for Loser Of The Year. She’s American, so she’s good and eligible.
Dustin Petzold is the editor-in-chief of Crooked Scoreboard and thinks baseball players over six feet tall should be deported. You should follow Crooked Scoreboard on Twitter.
Nate Koehler is a cartoonist and illustrator who didn’t think he’d be drawing old ladies for this website. You should follow him on Twitter, too.