Northern Exposure through the red state/blue state lens

January 31, 2022

Here’s a game I play whenever I watch a television show or movie: First, can you clearly identify the political affiliations of the characters? Second, does identifying their politics have any bearing on the meaning of the show?

I thought about this a lot in recent months while I went through the complete series of Northern Exposure, which I believe sits in a rarely-occupied space in American drama: it depicts politically-conservative Americans sympathetically, gives them complex and nuanced lives, and was critically-acclaimed.

It's okay to ignore the Baseball Hall of Fame

January 21, 2022

The thing about the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is that the Hall of Fame has lost most of its meaning in recent years, and the museum is thoroughly mediocre — or at least it was when I went, in 2016. Both problems are tied to how fans consume baseball today and, by extension, how consensus develops about certain players’ greatness and overall worthiness.

Are multi-purpose stadiums really gone for good?

January 14, 2022

(Quick note to start: If you’re a baseball fan, I highly recommend Craig Calcaterra’s
Cup of Coffee newsletter. It’s a great way to keep up with the broad baseball conversation, but he also brings up a wide variety of other topics for spice. Overall, I look forward to reading it every morning and think it’s well worth the purchase price. Also, one of the subscriber perks is that if you buy a certain piece of merch from him, you can submit a guest essay, which I did, and he published it Friday morning. My thesis: The institutions that grapple with COVID-19 most publicly are probably professional sports leagues, which in turn distorts our experience with the virus.

Now, on with today’s post…)

Pro sports teams don’t like multi-use stadiums. Part of it may be a reaction to the concrete ring stadiums built in the 1960s and 1970s that were designed to host multiple sports, and which tended to feel cavernous and hostile to any event, especially baseball. But I suspect a bigger element is that building a sport-specific ballpark is a statement of purpose and stature, that this is a place for that sport, specifically, and therefore the team that plays here matters — even though owners will absolutely use the facility for as many other uses as they can.

That said, I wonder if we’re due for a rebirth of multi-purpose stadiums.