Some Kind of Strange

Within the wider subculture of broadcast jockdom, each sport has its own little accents and memes. When you watch a football game the camera inevitably finds the most insane looking fans, people with no shirt and lots of body paint looking fierce and properly deranged. When you watch a basketball game, the camera shows hotties in the stands and any celebrities in the first row. And baseball... baseball games are a non stop montage of children. Children eating cotton candy, children eating hot dogs, children holding gigantic gloves.

To a lager extent than football and basketball, baseball likes to pretend its a nineteenth century pasttime, all Field of Dreams mauldin romanticism, summer nights with white people and fireworks. Although baseball has a much larger pseudo-intellectual and poetic infrastructure than other American sports, that structure is anti-intellectual, which leads to strange ironies like George Will and Buzz Bissinger types devoting reams of purple prose and highfalutin language to basically saying the game is a simple thing of hunches and grit, in tune with America's mythical pastoral heritage. Thus, although football is much more a game of brute effort and testosterone, Moneyball-esque thinking, analysis and a simple willingness to be innovative has been much more at home in football culture.

Related to this is the strange way that generic baseball sqwarkers talk, which tends to gravitate towards a psuedo-Southern accent (as opposed to football speak, which is all Rust Belt).  One little phrase I've noticed quite frequently this summer, from television to radio, from live games to highlights, from local to national broadcasts, is "some kind of".  

Derek Jeter is some kind of player.

Those Angels have turned in to some kind of baseball team.

Cliff Lee is on some kind of roll right now.

Importantly, you've got to say "some kind of" like "summm kinda" as in "Albert Pujols is summm kinda anchor for that Cardinals lineup."

If you think about it, its a strange phrase. On one hand, it works as an understatement, with the speaker saying "some kind of" instead of the "awesome" or "impressive" or "powerful" or whatever. Understatement is already the height of wit on ESPN, and is especially favored by the NFL types like Trey Wingo. Watch NFL Live any random time, a variation of "that Peyton Manning guy, he's a little good". There's an element of that in "some kind of", but that isn't the whole story. No, you might also say "some kind of" because Jeter's clutchness is actually so magnificent that you legitimately cannot describe it in human language. Or, at least in the humble language of any self-respecting baseball man, who is just a simple fellow of course, who just likes mowing his yard and feeding kids homemade ice cream and following the hunches of the manager.

Curiously, the most egregious abusers of "some kind of" are the latest scions of the broadcasting dynasties: Joe Buck, Chip Caray and Thom Brennamen. All three have their strengths and weakness I suppose, but also represent perfectly how the awe-shucks anti-intellectualism that pervades the sport also serves those who already have a natural foot inside the door of the industry.

Royals fans however, are some kind of lucky that Denny Matthews isn't a part of this trend.

 

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