This may be distressing news to some of you, and it pains me to be the one who breaks it, but anime is not real.
Obviously anime – the medium – is real. If it wasn’t, you couldn’t have weird, heated, and vaguely Gary Glitter adjacent arguments about which 13 year old girl from Neon Genesis Evangelion is the “best”. What is so blatantly and unequivocally fake about anime is that there’s no such thing as only fighting at 20% of your full power. There’s no dramatic monologue before every encounter. No one is standing off to the side to explain to you in excruciating detail what you can clearly see taking place in front of you. I wonder if that’s a holdover from the primitive days of when anime was just manga. You know, before the pictures moved.
I am nothing if not a distant parent to the stragglers who still read these articles, so I’ll indulge us both with one of my favorite bits. You may be saying to yourself right now – “Hold on a minute, Coach. Anime isn’t real, obviously. But when I clicked this article, I was expecting it to be about Baseball. What gives?” Well, firstly, I’d like to point out that the famously pathetic, worthless, and inept anime character Yamcha from the culturally massive Dragon Ball Z ended up playing Baseball pretty well after he got his ass kicked so hard so many times he was forced into retirement from his career of being a petty criminal. Secondly, I will promise you that if you continue to read on, you brave soul you, this article WILL actually be about baseball.
The World Series is being played right now. The Fall Classic. The Big Game. The Houston Astros are representing the American League, and the Washington Nationals are representing the National League. Houston, having the better record of the two ball clubs, are hosting the series. Washington won the first game by only a single run, in what was a hard fought, entertaining, and well managed ballgame. In the second game, the Nationals stole yet another win from the home field of their opponents – this time in gloriously hilarious fashion. The final score was 12 – 3. The World Series is played in a best-of-seven format. A format where the Nationals are currently leading 2 – 0 as they return to D.C. to play games 3 and 4.
These are the facts, presented only as such. However, the facts do not present any information that is actually of any value or merit. Sports, you see, are not simply contests of athletic skill. Sports are elaborate settings in which stories of humanity play out, raw and loosely scripted, stripped bare of pretense. The facts may tell you who won the game, or who has the best batting average, but the facts will not tell you why the Houston Astros are cosmically fated to lose the World Series to a team that should not exist. That’s what I’m here for. That’s my job.
There’s a heavily-relied upon theme in pretty much all anime that you can overcome any hardship or challenge by giving a really bad ass speech, talking about the power of friendship, or taunting your opponent by telling them you’ve only been fighting them at 20% of your full power. Full disclosure – the only anime I watch is the kind where gigantic men beat the shit out of each other. That’s essentially the only thing that entire genre is good for. Dragon Ball Z is one thousand times more important than all of that meditation on the human condition bullshit. Serial Experiments Lain? More like Serial Experiments LAME. Goku could beat everyone in that show in a fight. Goku could beat everyone on the entire roster of the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals combined at the same time, if he was real. The issue, I’m sure you can see, is that Goku is not real. Goku will not be substituted in as a double-switch pinch hitter for Houston when game three is being played at Nationals Park.
If anime was real – if this outlandish notion was possible – it would certainly make for an interesting story. After being embarrassed in front of their home fans, the Houston Astros could hold a clubhouse meeting where Goku or that Deku kid from My Hero Academia or whatever could give an inspiring speech to the rest of the team – maybe something about never giving up, or about how the only way to win is to push yourself to your limit, or about how the camaraderie they feel will fuel an epic comeback. Or perhaps Vegeta could be sitting in his locker room stall, an arrogant smirk drawn across his unusually large face, and his teammates would be confused. Jose Altuve would say “What are you looking so damn smug about!? We just lost 12 to 3 at home!” to which Vegeta would condescendingly reply “Hm, I guess I’ll have to actually use my full power.”
All of those actions would galvanize the Astros, and they’d win. They’d beat the Nationals so bad there would be rule changes introduced at the owners meetings in the off-season about the legal limit of ki you can infuse the ball with before you throw a high fastball inside. The problem is that anime isn’t real. The only story the Astros have is an embarrassing loss being immensely overshadowed by the story that the assistant general manager of the Astros openly taunted victims of domestic violence during the team’s celebration over their victory over the Yankees. That wouldn’t make for a good anime plot, you see. Unless you’re one of those freaks who gets into Greek Symposium level debates about animes called things like “I didn’t know my little sisters toes tasted so good!?” Anime actually fucking sucks, but so do the Astros.
If the aforementioned impossibly stupid clubhouse incident happened in the 1970s, or the 1990s, or maybe even 2006, no one would give a shit. It’s a harsh but true fact. An equally true fact is that in 2006 a long-time MLB umpire wouldn’t be fired for tweeting about his desire to purchase an AR-15 ” because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL WAR!!! #MAGA2020,” . These things weren’t part of baseball even as recently as 15 years ago, but now you could argue that relative level of scandal may be a more useful statistic than wins above replacement or exit velocity. Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, the future is not yet now. Baseball season isn’t over. There is no owners meeting going on where whichever corporate phantasm owns the Astros is proposing an additional periphery scoring system where teams are awarded fractions of runs based on things like profoundly stupid behavior. If I were in charge of implementing such a system, I would make sure that all tweets in the same genre as umpire Rob Drake’s direct threat of violence were worth the same amount of points. If extra fractions of runs were awarded for things like spelling, grammar, and syntax errors, teams would go out of their way to put as many far-right populists on their rosters as they could.
I don’t know what the fucking deal is with these people, but they cannot spell.
Sports are the stage in which the stories of epochs of the human condition are written. Not that gay anime bullshit. Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg being hugged in the dugout by his teammates after pitching a great six innings will always be infinitely more important to the course of our shared experience than Shinji Ikari jacking off next to a sleeping girl. As time marches, the world changes. America changes, and so, in turn, America’s pastime must change.
In the future Baseball teams could be awarded in the middle of games based on the controversy generated by the advancement of outrage-based entertainment. The Astros could have been allocated 4 extra runs to distribute across the series as they deem necessary. The Nationals could be awarded or penalized for the disingenuous way they embody the ultimate D.C. success story. The critical hyper-analysis of every facet of these human triumphs could be crunched like any other stat, and bets could be placed, and games could be won or lost based on how many children with cancer Carlos Correa visited in the last fiscal year, or how many “gamer words” Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader said when he was 17 years old.
Unfortunately for the Houston Astros, the future is not now, and they will continue to lose games of baseball because they fucking suck at baseball. Nationals in 5. The Leafs fucking suck. Brad Marchand is the best hockey player on Earth. Never count out Touchdown Tom. Let’s Go Mets, Baby. Love The Freakin’ Mets.