Guest Post COW: The RandBall Better Half ranks the roles and positions in baseball

Posted on August 7th, 2009 – 11:08 AM
By Michael Rand

mrsrandball.JPGWell, her post clocked in at 907 words — about 600 more than are usually allotted — but we have to say the RandBall Better Half did us proud with her Commenter Of the Week post. We will say no more. Here it is, complete with that picture you all seemed to enjoy two years ago:


First of all, I’d like to thank Stu, who nominated me as “COW” this week … and to think I wasn’t even trying! As my disclaimer, I need to reveal the full extent to which I know nothing about sports. In fact, for the first several years RandBall and I were dating when he would listen to baseball games on the radio, I would listen along, but had no idea what was happening. Everything about his favorite sport seemed to elude me. A can of corn? A one-two-three inning? He flied out? What the heck?! But when I would accompany RandBall to any of a variety of sporting events, my questions and comments became his entertainment. After a while, some of those comments ended up on the blog. I like to fancy myself something of an outsider, pointing out the folly … revealing the bizarre … and examining the logic (or lack thereof) of the all-American game.

I’ve ranked the varying positions of baseball players in order (best to worst) below. I question whether some of the positions were accurately relayed by RandBall, but alas, you’ll see my comments below.

#1 Closing Pitcher
The number one most important job on the baseball diamond is the closer. It only makes sense that they’d save the best for last, ensuring that a lead in the eighth inning will lead to a win after the ninth. Eddie Guardado was my favorite, and I’m trying to warm up to Joe Nathan, but I’ve been told you can never trust a guy with two first names.

#2 Utility Player
Hooray! I knew baseball could use a sweeper! This is exactly what I would propose for the field. As an artist of varying mediums, and someone who appreciates the Renaissance era, I love the idea of a baseball player with many skills. There should be more jack-of-all-trades guys out there giving everything they’ve got. Kudos to whomever thought up this position!!

#3 Starting Pitcher
Clearly, someone needs to start the game off pitching, and a starting pitcher make a lot of sense. This one ranks high in the logic category, which I can’t say for some of the positions later on the list.

#4 (Tie) First Baseman, Second Baseman, Third Baseman
Again, these positions rank high for reasons of logic. Who would catch and throw and/or watch the base-runners whiz by if there were no basemen?

#5 Shortstop
If they needed another base, why didn’t they just make it a baseball pentagon? Is this guy supposed to be the “sweeper” between second and third base? Perhaps he’s the backup when the second baseman gets a nosebleed … Mr. Shortstop gets his moment in the sun, catches the can-a-corn and tags the runner out. *Sigh* Poor shortstop, always dreaming of being second-baseman.

#6 Middle-Relief Pitcher
Hmmm, this seems like a made up type of pitcher. If I were to guess, I’d say that it means the starting pitcher is too tired, but that it’s too early to bring in the Closer. Either that or the team is losing too badly, and the manager doesn’t want to tire out the Closer. Sounds like you’d only need a “Middle-Relief” pitcher if the starting pitcher isn’t up to par. Is that how this works?

#7 Left-handed Specialist Pitcher
Now, I am all about equal opportunity, and those poor left-handers do not have all the perks in American society as right-handers. Take scissors, for example. Our country is entirely biased towards right-handedness. If I understand the concept behind the “Left-handed Specialist” pitcher, they themselves would almost assuredly be left-handed, and are intending to pitch against left-handed batters. If the bias did not exist towards right-handedness, we would naturally have more equal numbers of right and left-handed batters AND pitchers. I find it silly that the sport of baseball has conjured up special types of pitchers just to deal with the rarity of left-handedness. Is baseball the only arena where left-handedness is seen as a virtue and not some sinister abnormality? (Did you know that the technical term for left-handedness is “sinistral?”)

#8 (Tie) Left Fielder, Center Fielder, Right Fielder
I see the utility in needing to cover ground along the fence … however, I feel a “sweeper” (or rover, or utility player…) would more effectively use the manpower. How many games have you seen where the outfielders are standing in place, burning the same number of calories as the spectators themselves?! Here’s to fewer men in the outfield, and more sweepers!

#9 (Tie) Pinch Hitter, Pinch Runner, Designated Hitter
Like I always say, if you’re not good at baseball, then you shouldn’t be in the Major Leagues. Why would there be a necessity for a Pinch Hitter, Pinch Runner or Designated Hitter if all the players knew how to do their jobs? This is like hiring a pinch phone answerer for a secretary when the line two starts ringing, but the poor secretary is already busy with someone on line one. These are the moments when any good secretary begins to multi-task. Put the caller on line one on hold, and pick up line two. Or in ball talk, pick up the bat (put on the shoes, or book your flight ticket back to the minors) and do your job.

#10 Defensive Specialist
What? Is this some sort of tactical war zone position? I’m lost.

#11 Set-up Man
Obviously, you must be mistaken. We are talking about baseball, not con artistry.

Comments are closed.