Reader: As you undoubtedly know, the play-offs will soon be upon us. These are heady days; days that call for reflection, reflection upon both our future and, yes, reader, our past. But before I unveil yet another world-historical revelation, I would like to take a moment to offer my readers a clarification of my philosophy and skills. If you know anything at all about baseball or history, you have no doubt already read the following passage from my 1987 work Ecce Home Run: An Exploration of My Philosophy and Skills.
WHY I LIKE THE STRONG HOME RUN
The Home Run ball is the holy spermatazoa scrambling for the great egg, the Sun, Helios, the bringer of light, the source of all life. The spermatazoa strives, soaring through the sky in an immaculate arc, yet it falls short for eternity, never reaching its goal. Its struggle is ours. In its journey we find grace.
WHY I AM THE BEST LIVING HISTORIAN
I am the best living historian because unlike other historians, I am utterly without bias. My truth devastates those who would question it, my eye is the eye of God, and my powers of research and reason are such that they may be compared to the sinewy forearms of a towering slugger, grasping within his calloused fists the baseball bat of dialectics.
WHY I AM ALWAYS RIGHT
I am always right because I choose to be right. I choose to be right because I have sworn off bias and dishonesty. I am always right because I am never questioned. I am never questioned because my work leaves the reader with no questions. Only answers.
Those who are familiar with my work have just been reminded of my genius. Those unfamiliar have just learned of it. And now both groups shall learn of our National Game’s greatest shame, remarkably reported here for the first time in history.
In the 1970s, Osama Bin Laden was studying engineering at Saudi Arabia’s prestigious King Abdulaziz University. When he wasn’t in the library studying, he could be found on the university Quad, tossing around the old “white sphere” with his buddies from the school’s official baseball fan club, The Baseball Boys. If you happened to be strolling through the campus on a spring day in 1978, you probably would have stumbled upon the lanky Osama, tossing Curvéd Balls in an old Sandy Koufax jersey given to him a few years earlier at a government function by none other than George H.W. Bush.
Ever since he was a boy, Osama Bin Laden had always admired MLB pitchers. But it wasn’t until 1988 that he became radicalized. When Osama first saw Randy Johnson pitch, he reportedly said to his cousin, “This man, this Johnson. He is a true pitching prophet. A mujahid of the mound.” He decided at that moment to devote his life to assisting the pitcher in his cowardly struggle against the Home Run Slugger.
Bin Laden was not without allies in this struggle. Throughout the 1990s, he worked with his contacts within Major League Baseball to weaken Hitters’ Rights and give more power to pitchers. His campaign of terror escalated in the late 1990s, when the first anti-hitter trials began.
In June 1999, Osama’s old friend Bud Selig invited him to testify, under an alias, during the trial of a beloved slugger whose name I will not mention here. For the first time since his university days, Bin Laden shaved his beard and posed, under oath, as an Italian mechanic from the Bronx named Brian Laden Tommasino, a name inspired by a character from The Godfather, Bin Laden’s favorite film. Bin Laden told the jury that the slugger had “humiliated his family” and “emasculated his son” by hitting so many Home Run Slams. The story was effective. The hitter was stripped of his bat and forced to retire from the game. With Selig’s help, Bin Laden had scored his first major victory within the U.S.
Over the next two years, several such show trials took place, each featuring the same star witness: an enigmatic Bronx mechanic named Brian Laden Tommasino, who just wanted to see the game “played the right way.” The trials worked ... for a while. Eventually they lost their effectiveness. The American people started asking questions. And Selig and Bin Laden started looking for answers.
After one trial, the following e-mail exchange took place between Selig and Bin Laden.
“Osama. Speak 2 me homie,” Selig e-mailed.
“Wazzaaaaaaaa,” Bin Laden replied.
“g00d work @ trial 2day. But i’m afraid it wuzn’t enuff.”
“Wha gwan?” Bin Laden replied.
“Jury wuz skeptial d00d,” Selig e-mailed. “we mite have 2 take this sh1t 2 tha next level. R U Willing 2 go Tha distance?”
“nething 4 u Bud,” Bin Laden replied.
“cant elabor8 over e-mail. not a secure line. sending my ppl 2 ur compound to discuss further. over n out bi0tch.”
Selig’s final e-mail was sent September 10th, 2001. And we all know what happened the very next day. That’s right: So-called “Performance Enhancing Drugs” were outright banned from Baseball, ushering in the current age of the Eunuch Batsman. The Time of the Weak Arm. The Dark Age of Slugging. The Quiet Century.
This October, as you watch ground ball after lazy ground ball trickle towards the short stop, remember how we got here. Remember Bin Laden’s assault on our nation’s pastime. Without memory, time is just a meaningless river filled with corpses. Through the power of baseball dialectics, we rebuild our past and shape our future. We are living in dark times. But soon the spermatazoa will rise again towards the sun. Soon our fertile bases, again, shall be stomped on by strong men. Remember your history. Remember Bin Laden. Imprison Bud Selig. Pray for Baseball.
Mr. Baseball is a baseball historian and fan. He lives and works in the United States.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.