Yesterday, the Chicago Cubs pitcher Travis Wood was selected to the National League All Star team. After the game, he was being interviewed -- when one of his teammates ran by and hit him in the face with a pie. They laughed and laughed.
I am waiting for someone to pull baseball players aside and say, "Guys, honestly, this really isn't as knee-slapping funny as you think it is. It was probably a hoot when you were in high school. You're both grown adults, you're professionals. C'mon, act like it."
Mind you, it's not that hitting someone with a pie isn't funny. I even did a lecture on it in college -- which included being hit by a pie at the end. So, I get it. But the humor comes from the total surprise, or the build-up of anticipation. But just hitting someone with a pie on a fairly regular basis during interviews really loses the hilarity factor after a while. And it really does happen regularly. The first four times it happened years ago, yeah, it was pretty funny, unexpected. But now, pie after pie after pie after thousands of pies whenever a player has had an especially good game and is doing an interview -- nah, it really isn't that funny anymore. And it's not remotely unexpected.
Hey, for all I know, this has been going on since the 1920s, and is how legendary, Hall of Fame third baseman Harold Traynor got his nickname. Pie.
Actually, my biggest complaint isn't that it's not funny. Ultimately, that's personal taste, and I'm sure there are people who laugh every single time they see a player getting hit by pie while being interviewed. the biggest issue is that it's insulting and disrespectful to the viewing public, the audience, y'know, the fans. You want to hit a teammate with a pie in the locker room? Fine. But when someone is being interviewed after an accomplishment, it's because the media believes many people actually want to hear what he has to say. I've seen far too many interviews where the ballplayer, happy with his accomplishment, is enthusiastically explaining what happened, and then -- whammo, cue the pie. And that pretty much ends the interview. Sometimes they continue, as the guy stands there half-covered with shaving cream, but generally the reporter laughs and says, "Hey, you go clean up now. Great game. Congratulations."
It's also worth noting that hitting a teammate with a pie -- actually, that sounds classier, since it's really just smearing him with shaving cream, ha, ha -- is almost exclusively limited to baseball players. I can't recall it happening to a football, basketball or hockey player. Something about baseball players seems to make this oh-so hilarious to them. Baseball players are not known for being the most mature of pro athletes, so that probably factors in.
In fairness, football and basketball players do have their own post-game frivolity that doesn't exist in baseball. The hilarity of dumping a barrel of Gatorade on their coach after a win. This used to be a celebration after a really big, important win. Now, it's often just...well, if you win. It's pretty insipid, and when it happens simply because you won, that sort of lessens the emotional excitement of the moment, but that's another discussion.
What I'd love to see is for TV networks to send a note to every team -- if any player hits somebody with a pie who we're trying to conduct a professional interview with, we will not interview that person again, at any time. And no, I don't expect that to happen. But a guy can dream. (Besides, it's also possible that TV loves when this happens, but I suspect not, I suspect that being adults trying to do their job, it probably has become tiresome.)
And so, it's likely to continue. So be it, that's the way it goes. Sometimes life just hits you with a pie in the face.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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