Monday, June 24, 2013

The Ninth Man

As the Three Weeks approach, very soon many iPods across the Jewish world will shift to A Capella. And there is no Jewish song more associated with A Capella than Abie Rottenberg’s “The Ninth Man,” as sung by Lev Tahor. If for some reason you are unfamiliar with the song, here it is:

However, it is curious to me that there are a few glaring problems with the song. Everything seems to be fine up until the catcher’s fateful slide into third. After that play, everyone seems to forget about basic human decency and the rules of baseball.

As soon as we find out that a player has broken his leg, the immediate reaction from the Brooklyn is “It’s a forfeit! You’ve only got eight guys!” That’s horrible! Firstly, I’ve been a part of some pretty competitive games in leagues where a player has had to leave for much lesser reasons than a broken leg, and we figured out a way to continue playing without forfeit. Secondly, what kind of a person, much less a group of people, see a guy lying on the ground with a broken leg and their first thought is ‘haha, we win?’ That is some of the worst midos and sportsmanship that I have ever heard. And the Rebbe is no better. He doesn’t help the student, call an ambulance or take the player to the hospital. Instead, argues with the Brooklyn team that he should be allowed to play so as not to have the Bums forfeit the game, probably while the catcher is on the ground writhing.

But truthfully, that problem wouldn’t be so bad if not for the very next part of the song where valiantly, the Rebbe who has been so patient with his bum students all year takes the place of the injured player, and hits a walk-off homerun to end the game. The last I checked, if a player gets injured or is removed from the game for any reason, the substitute does not then get up to bat. Rather, he would take the spot in the lineup for the starting player.

If the catcher was safe on third, the Rebbe should be running from there. If he was out, the Rebbe would have to wait for the lineup to come around again, and would have likely had to play the field for an inning or two. But clearly, this was the last inning as he just gets up and hits a walk-off homerun. The song should have ended like so:
He flew around the bases
Scored the winning run
We danced and cheered ‘til the umpire said
“He’s out for batting out of order – Broooklyn won”
This is the first time I have said anything negative about anything Abie Rottenberg has ever done, but this song seems to belong in a Rob Paravonian stand up routine.