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July 10, 2002
The Sissification of America

A tie? A %#*!$! tie? Since when did our national pastime become soccer? If I want to watch a bunch of well-paid guys play around for three hours just to end in a draw, I'll turn on C-SPAN. This is America, for Pete's sake -- land of the free, home of the brave, nation of citizens who decided they didn't want to be Europeans. Every year, we elect our favorite baseball players from each team and league (because we are a republic, not some grubby democracy), and tell them to slug it out in a stadium until one league or the other is declared the victor.

You see, having slapped around a string of dictators for the last two hundred years, we've gotten used to seeing this sort of thing finished. Being a nation founded by Christians, we believe you should pick a side and stick to it; be hot or cold, as the good book says. It's why Ingmar Bergman was never a big hit here. It's why we like our chili spicy and our beer icy. It's why soccer will never be the national sport, at least not while a Republican is in office. If none of these things make sense, then you probably didn't even know there was an All-Star game last night. I'll wager further that you live in a place where guns are prohibited, probably with several indoor pets and lots of Anne Rice books. You have my sympathy and my contempt.

As does professional baseball. Somehow we have forgotten what we all learned as kids, that if it gets too dark or the guy who owns the bat has to go home for supper, you just show up the next day, with the same score, and finish it.

But that assumes there isn't anybody else to play, which was clearly not the case last night. I promise you there were at least a thousand guys in Miller Park with baseball gloves. So why didn't anybody think to let one of them play once the rosters started to thin? You think the crowd wouldn't have loved that? If so, you're out of touch with sports fans, and with America. We all grew up with this rule: if you don't have enough good guys to play, you just let somebody's kid brother in the game, or at worst, somebody's sister. Not only would this have been good baseball, it would have been good finance -- you let one Joe Average get into a professional game, and you'll fill every stadium for the rest of the season.

Or what about the managers? These guys already have uniforms on, for crying out loud. I know, they're old and out of shape, but so are half the professional pitchers out there. If last night's travesty isn't enough to get the managers out on the field, then they should take off the uniforms and officially bury the manager-player tradition.

All of these solutions just highlight the lack of entrepreneurial spirit among baseball officials, which isn't surprising coming from a cartel that lets the likes of Peter Angelos join its ranks. The real problem here is that the bureaucrats were more worried about some manager getting his panties in a wad because his pitcher had to go more than two innings than they were about telling 41,781 Americans -- in a time of war, no less -- that they just paid $125 per ticket to see a cricket match. So what does that say about us?

Sissies. We are becoming a nation of sissies. Don't agree? Aside from last night, here are a few cultural markers: Oprah, Title IX, chick flicks, workplace sensitivity training, gun control, rising obesity, declining military enrollment, Tae Kwon Do, guys with earrings, and the disappearance of the stick shift.

Here's an even more persuasive sign that I'm right: the word "sissy" is considered insensitive, and increasingly likely to get one in trouble when uttered in the wrong company. Only a nation of sissies would take umbrage at the word "sissy."

The solution? Well, for starters we can get everybody back out on the field to finish last night's game. If the All-Stars are too tired, or are feeling abused and underpaid, then let our armed services field a couple of teams. They're the real All-Stars anyway. Next, we can start fining people who don't shoot burglars and muggers. After that, we should bring back the slap. Watch any black-and-white movie and you'll see what I'm talking about. If somebody gets too hysterical, you just give him a solid backhand. Not being a sissy, he'll thank you for it later. Imagine being able to give your supervisor a fresh one the next time he starts hyperventilating over increasing SG&A. Not such a bad idea, eh?

These are just a few possibilities, off the top of my head. I'll put the question to you, Gentle (in the non-sissy connotation) Reader. What steps can we take to stem the sissification of America?

Update: Ciscley Frohme has a compelling rebuttal to my claim about the inherent sissiness of tie-prone soccer. Excerpt: "Baseball can't have a tie without everyone deciding to give up. Soccer does have ties precisely because the teams won't give up."

Okay, point nicely made. Can we end this argument with a draw, Cis?

Posted by Woodlief on July 10, 2002 at 07:00 AM


Dear Great one:

This is all part of the feminization of our great land. According to the enlightened folks our only hope is to take the characteristics of our more sensitive and caring women. However, what most of your readers probably don't know it was the feminist notion of - let everybody play that caused the problem.

When the great Teddy Ballgame won the 1941 All-star game with a walk off home run in the 9th he had played the whole game. But, in our 'fair' society of the 21st century all 30 of the 'All-stars' have to play. I say play the damn game to win. Save some guys for extra innings. When was the last time that a starter in the game played 9 innings?

You see many women probably saw Mr. 'Wimp' Seilg's actions as wisdom last night. They were tired and well no one lost and that’s okay we all had fun didn't we? I say that the decision is a travesty of the first degree. As a fan who is an addict, I listen to or watch 100 plus games per season, I see this as a kick in groan of true fans.

You know I find it funny that in my line of work I as part of my closing of a sale I tell my clients that I am done with my job when they say that I am done. If we are working on a project that is due on a particular date then we work until it is done. If that means work past 1:00 am then we work past 1:00 am. If we are out of fresh replacements we keep working. This devotion to the needs of my client results in satisfied customers who not only return but also, recommend my services to friends and colleagues.

These guys out there on the field make, well I don't know the average salary of an all-star but the average salary for the garden-variety player is in the $3 million range. These guys can work late. Put in a position player to pitch.

Are there any real men left in baseball? …in America, well I guess there are the firemen.

Keep up the good work…

Posted by: Gray Brendle at July 10, 2002 7:41 AM

Looks like someone stayed up late last night and went to bed mad...
Let's see, how about a tiebreaker?
1. Take blood tests of all the players, and whatever side has the highest cumulative steroid total is the winner.
2. Let the wives/girlfriends have their own "home-run" derby (only they will only have to hit it past the infield).
3. 100 yard dash for all the team owners.
4. Bratwurst eating contest between Bud Selig and ___ ?

Posted by: MarcV at July 10, 2002 8:34 AM

I'm sorry Gary but kiss my ass. There is nothing "sissy" about historic women and nothing (other than the fact it's my actual name) about modern women that makes them more prone to sissiness than modern men.

In fact, were it not for feminisim one could not even correctly call a woman a sissy. It used to always be the supreme accomplishment of a woman to remain polite and "dainty" even though she'd been up with children or housework since the wee hours of the morning. Even in Victorian times one wouldn't define a woman as sissy. It was the men who were jealous of the "leisure" they considered a woman's life to be. Powdered wigs, panty hose and the like they adopted into their own fashion. Of course they left out the painful undergarments, sissies.

Personally I could care less about a bunch of bloated over weight men who can't retain their own interest (much less mine) long enough to win their "sissy" game (compared to all those European sports Tony hates, like soccer, like rugby, like lacrosse and field hockey - which are ironically truly American sports, just not valued here.)

The real "sissification" of America I have a problem with is everyone calling their daughters "Sissy" as short for sister. Sissy and Cissy happen to be real bloody names people! One which I happily still answer to. If you must insist on naming your precious little girl some attrociously original and artistic name, then by god the little brat has to live with the nickname consequences. Stop stealing mine.

I'll post about the whole "soccer is a sissy game" later on my own blog. I'm having a hard time taking the accusation seriously. Baseball harder and more manly than soccer? Sorry, giggling again.

Posted by: Cis at July 10, 2002 8:54 AM

Sorry, Tony, but if anything, baseball is a sport for sissies. The reason they replay Pete Rose's collision at the plate year after year is it is the only thing of interest in the past 25 years of the sport. Oh sure, I like Greg Maddux's wizardry and technical exploits, but for goodness sakes, he has a hired thug with body armor on to tackle the batter if he happens to give him a little chin music. But comparing baseball to soccer is just sissified.

Look at soccer. Not a minute goes by without contact, most of it violent, without pads, without helmets, and all while running (no time between "plays" to stand in a circle holding hands, no conferences on the mound, etc). The game goes on for 90 minutes and requires on the fly decision making, incredible stamina and strength, and involves more technical skills than you are aware of. It shares some characteristics with basketball and hockey without the need to be a physical mutant to play it. It IS the common man's sport all over the world. Too bad you don't appreciate it.

And by the way, we seem to have left a string of dictators in power in the past 200 years...

Posted by: Steve at July 10, 2002 9:25 AM

Guys with earrings are sissies? Hmmm... I've heard this blogger, Mr. Woodlief, a former schoolmate, once had an earring.

Posted by: amy bell at July 10, 2002 10:05 AM

On soccer: no question it takes skill and stamina. So do club dancing, slap fights, and aerobics, sissy activities all. What makes soccer a sissy sport is one horrible attribute: it can end in a tie. Manly (and womanly, Cis) sports don't end in ties.

On earrings: true. I was once a sissy. I reformed.

Posted by: Tony at July 10, 2002 10:25 AM

Ummmm....Tony? I was with you ALL THE WAY until this last post.

Hockey ends in ties.

Posted by: BobM at July 10, 2002 1:55 PM

I am not sure why, but I can't bring myself to get mad over this. I would have loved to see them come up with a better solution, but the truth is, it's an exhibition. The game means nothing.

If there is one thing we have always seen in all star games of different sports, its that the athletes don't want to lose the rest of the season after breaking an ankle sliding in to second or cutting back up the middle on an end around, etc.

I applaud Sosa for trying to reach 3rd on that single, and I applaud Bonds for playing with what's his name after stealing his homer...these made the game exciting and FUN, and a hell of a game it was.

But from a player's point of view...I bet they were all ready to jump on planes and go see their families for a day, and could have cared less if they had continued past the 9th.

So Tony, my challenge to you, Mr. Non-Sisiphus...if you are so wrongly-rubbed...don't be a sissy and turn on the TV to watch a game, or buy a ticket to the ballpark for the rest of the season. Be a man and stand your ground.

Me? I love the A's. I'll be watching tomorrow as if the game had never happened. Why? I don't give a sh*t how the all-star game comes out. I love the second half, I love the playoffs, and I am surely going to be pissed if they strike.

Don't get me started on that...

Posted by: Chad at July 10, 2002 3:12 PM

It's true, the Sissy Rule can be counterintuitive. Many good rules are. A refusal to settle for ties, however, is what separates men from boys, entrepreneurs from managers, marketers from salesmen, generals from military advisors, and Americans from Europeans.

The day hockey and soccer players refuse to leave the field until the game is decided will be the day their sports are no longer sissy sports.

Posted by: Tony at July 10, 2002 3:17 PM

I hesitate to bring up the pierced ear. We were all young and foolish at some point. I like the idea of the managers playing. Everyone who knows me realizes my love of the game of baseball. It just seems to deteriorate more and more each year. I have been entertaining thoughts of just finding Little League games to watch. These pros give me a royal pain. I never thought I would say that about a baseball player in a million years. But, then, I never thought I would drive a stick shift again. But I am. Keep up your good work.

Posted by: llanaw at July 10, 2002 6:24 PM

Oh, yes, and one more thing, young man. I forgot to mention. Oprah is, of course, detestable, and does represent some of this "sissification". However. she did not start it. Phil Donahue did. Looking forward to reading your site again, llanaw

Posted by: llanaw at July 10, 2002 7:26 PM

I haven't gotten around to that soccer post... but I will put the guts of it down here, which is soccer (and hockey) go all out to make there not be a tie. There are 15 minute additional periods where the first goal (golden goal) wins the game, even though the score remains what it was before hand. No yelling about how it's not fair unless we get a chance to score again too. Then there are the final shoot-outs with a single player going against the goalie on his own. I mean, it's the equivalent of you have to hit a home run or it doesn't count.

I can't ever remember a baseball player collapsing after a game from exhaustion. Mental or physical. Except for the pitcher there's so little strategy involved in baseball. Just hit the ball, field the bases, listen to your line men. And all the action occurs in short bursts of activity. There's so much time between pitches, so much butt scratching, mound prancing, tobacco spitting time to just chill out and decide whether you're going to strike again or not.

Personally, I think only sissy athletes strike. Manly atheletes get out there and play a game and remember that's all it is, a game. They're not lawyers or doctors or soldiers. And all games, when played to their fullest with extremely skilled opponents, can end in ties. (Take chess for example.) The reason a soccer game can end in a tie and a baseball game doesn't is because most of the time in soccer, both teams are going all out for every single scoring opportunity, every single possession, every single goal (that's what makes it different from basketball as well.)

Posted by: Cis at July 11, 2002 12:00 AM

Cis raises a point that needs clarification as we develop the science of Sissiness: it is possible for a non-sissy sport to be populated by sissies. Like professional baseball today. It is also possible for a sissy sport to be played by non-sissies (though their association with it does taint them with sissyhood), like soccer and hockey.

Posted by: Tony at July 11, 2002 8:07 AM

Ok, Tony, bring your non-sissified ball glove and bat over. I'll bring my sissy soccer ball. A little mano a mano and we'll see which is the sissified sport. You can even wear a batting helmet, instep guard, batting gloves, whatever. One on one won't give you the full appreciation, but I'll do my best to simulate full game contact. :)

Let's stop talkin' and start chalkin'.

Posted by: Steve at July 11, 2002 9:48 AM

I'm with Tony. Soccer is a game for commie pansies.

Posted by: hbchrist at July 11, 2002 10:20 AM

If you define a "sissy sport" by one that can end in a tie that is the only way baseball isn't a sissy game. Baseball has become pathetic. 95% percent of the game is spent by players standing around waiting for something to happen. Run to the outfield, wait. Three outs, run back in. You could easily sum up a single game's action into a 45 second highlight reel - if that.

Don't even get me started on the physical condition of baseball players compared to those in other sports. With or without steroids, it’s just sad. Some of these guys look like running 90ft would make them pass out. Maybe someone should cut the Twinkie budget out of some of these people's salaries.

While I'm not a big soccer fan, I do admire the fact they can run almost non-stop on that huge field, while getting their ass kicked and coordinate team play. The same goes for hockey.

I say a 'non-sissy' game is one where the players are generally fit, able, in an almost constant state of motion and attention, and the players are competing for more than money on the next contract. These days its easy to see that baseball, as well as other 'professional' sports lacks these qualities.

Posted by: Ben at July 12, 2002 10:04 PM


Funny piece. FUNNY PIECE. Your description of what the American spirit is, and what it isn't, is a great piece of satire.

However, the players are members of a labor union. Any attempt to recruit scab labor from the stands might have precipitated a riot. And the players would have had their asses kicked. Have you ever seen one of those phony base-brawls?

I think I saw a few Ann Rice books in the AL dugout, and a Bergman tape over in the NL box.

I would add addictions to your cultural markers. Ninety percent of what people call addiction is weakness of will and immaturity.

One solution: Phil Donahue must be pre-empted with extreme prjudice.

Posted by: jim at July 13, 2002 1:19 PM