Best of 2023

All These Ballplayers Spontaneously Bursting Into Flames Is Killing Baseball

Look, it’s high time we all acknowledged something: the number of baseball players spontaneously going up in flames has gotten way out of hand.

It seems like not a game goes by now without at least one professional athlete being reduced to a pile of ash in the middle of a decisive innings.

Picture this. You’re sitting there melting in the grandstand, trying not to pay too much attention to the stadium thermometer climbing above 110, and the nagging sense that your corneas have been glowing like bright embers for the past 3 hours, and bang! There it is: a deafening pop followed by the unmistakable whiff of a player’s charred flesh.

It frankly stinks, and it’s killing baseball! Take this game right now. The announcer is calling it an extra-innings thriller, but who could tell through all the acrid smoke blanketing the field? It makes me wonder, why even bother leaving my game day den, which is currently being AC’ed to arctic-low temperatures because I forgot to turn it off when I left home this morning, and also every other morning.

Answer me this, MLB. How are fans supposed to enjoy a day out at the ballpark while constantly on edge that their favorite players could at any point start smoldering and catch fire?

There’s nothing worse than sinking ten minutes into tracking the finger grip of your favorite pitcher, only to have your concentration broken by some outfielder getting vaporized out of the corner of your eye. Let me tell you, your brain’s not letting you see or think about anything else once it catches sight of an entire infield erupting into a fireball. That’s just basic human neurology.

People probably won’t like this idea, but it might be time to go back to an era of stricter rules when fans weren’t disrespected so regularly. For instance, at an absolute minimum, if a player decides to slide into those enormous pits of fire spitting out between 2nd and 3rd base and doesn’t have the basic decency to come back up, he should receive an immediate ejection.

I’ll admit, I’ve thought about this a lot during the hundreds of thousands of miles I’ve clocked up following my team around, and I’ve come to two realizations. One, it would probably be more economical to take a pile of money, cover it in gas and light on fire than continue to run my ravenous, seven-seater beast, but what are you going to do? Make changes to your lifestyle? And two, the cause of the massive uptick in this bursting into flames hoo-ha sure has me stumped.

I just can’t for the life of me in days gone by remember seeing such an alarming number of batters consistently crackle like hot coals up there at the plate, or so many SUVs on the road that look like mine. It certainly seems to be a troubling, recent phenomenon. I guess not too dissimilar to the mystifying flash floods, landslides, tornadoes, blizzards, and rivers catching fire I’ve driven past and not stopped to learn about in the last 12 months.

My friend, who is a very successful livestock business owner and therefore the person I turn to for answers to environmental issues I don’t pretend to understand, says the reason players are regularly getting carbonized by heat rays is actually very simple. It’s merely the logical end product of the work-shy modern baseballer, who is more interested in doing something inflammatory than putting on his highly-flammable synthetic fiber uniform and going out there and doing his job on these catastrophically-dry summer days.

Anyway, I’ve said my piece. Hopefully that’s it for unexpected outbursts from players, and we can get back to the red-hot action in this heat dome. According to the jumbotron up there — which we should definitely move away from before the cables melt — so far that’s two strikes, two balls, bases are loaded, and two basemen have been thoroughly incinerated. Hot damn, this is going to be one hell of a scorcher!