Off The Bat, Episodes 22 and 23: Cuppin' Cheeks

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Last time, I examined what ensues what Off the Bat puts together a segment with as little prep-work as possible. This time, a look at the cons and cons of Off the Bat’s particular breed of celebrity.

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This week we interview star Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo, who also appeared on the show all the way back in the third episode, which was far enough back that everybody still had a shot at the pennant and also far enough back that I actually thought the show would perhaps pick itself up, aesthetically speaking, after the first few bumbling episodes.

It has been a recurring theme throughout these plentiful episodes of Off the Bat that Chris, whenever he is within hearing distance of a Major League Baseball player, will talk relentlessly about exchanging cell phone numbers with that player. Chris’ anglings for cell phone numbers haven’t been mentioned in these reviews because I figured that it would be impossibly unprofessional for (1) Chris to openly beg for an acquaintances’ cell phone number as part of a supposed “interview,” and I thought it would be similarly impossible for (2) said beggings to make the final cut. I figured that the begging was some sort of bit or impression that never got off the ground in DiStefano’s klutzy hands.

Again, I am proven wrong! The begging was no act, it was no bit. We learn that Rizzo, in the throes of a rookie mistake -- perhaps feeling a nonexistent sense of obligation thanks to the vague Italian heritage he shares with Chris -- actually did exchange cell phone numbers, most likely back around the time of their Meatball Home Run Derby in Episode #3. Here in Episode #22, Chris “interviews” Rizzo by talking relentlessly about their texting relationship:

Rizz [nice nickname!], once in a while, you text me the wrong text. You’ll be like, “Oh, let’s go to the weight room?” Who’s the other Chris in your phone that I gotta slap up. ’Cause I’m like, “Bro, don’t get me excited that you want to hang out, and then you’re in another city.” You friend-cheating on me? You cheating on our bromance, bro?

It has been well-established that Chris appears to have very little understanding of how baseball works. By inventing and deploying the term “friend-cheating,” it would appear that he also has very little understanding about how social interactions and relationships work as well.

And then this happens:

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Loyal readers will remember that this is not the first time that Chris has yearned to have his butt touched by a Major Leaguer, meaning we are well on our way to establishing a very hard-to-explain fetish.

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This week’s in-studio guest is Boston Red Sox backup catcher David Ross, which means we have once again strayed extremely far from the mainstream -- even the baseball mainstream. But, like most baseball players who have appeared on the show, Ross does what he can to redeem it with his delightful personality.

In fact, Ross does the previously-believed-to-be-impossible and redeems this week’s edition of “Questions From Left Field” with an interesting tidbit: while at the plate, Adam Dunn maintains a basically uninterrupted conversation with both catcher and umpire. And so adds a new dimension to one of baseball’s most easily lovable thumping sluggers.

Instead of asking any follow-up questions, Chris instead decides to deeply consume Ross’ musk:

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Also this week, Melanie counts down the top seven zaniest uniforms across the minor leagues. Some real wacky outfits out there, folks!

More importantly, this segment is about three straight minutes of voice-over work by Melanie, which is about as resourceful as batting Dunn leadoff. Even though we’re almost two dozen episodes into this thing, Melanie remains unable to read through a scripted line without doing so as fast as possible, rendering most of the lines unintelligible. I had to rewind the tape more than once in order to catch the joke about how, on Grateful Dead Appreciation Night (complete with zany tie-dye uniforms!), “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was interrupted with a 17-minute guitar solo. Trust me, if you haven’t already heard this and chuckled your damned head off, it’s totally worth rewinding for.

Since Melanie can’t successfully read from a prompter (yet!), since she isn’t too concerned with knowing anything about baseball, and since she isn’t even dating Giancarlo Stanton, I think it’s worth wondering why, exactly, she is even on the show. You may be wondering: “Instead of hiring a half-interested Maxim bikini model as a female host, why didn’t Off the Bat look into employing one of the many talented, passionate, and knowledgeable female baseball writers and reporters who already churn out excellent and prolific analysis on major platforms while continually having to overcome the additional hurdles of inherent sexism in this sporting industry?”

You know what, that’s a really dumb question. The answer is twofold and interrelated: social media interaction, and boobs. Do you think that Off the Bat would be generating this sort of awesome social media buzz if the show was hosted by one of the many women who know how to responsibly deploy xFIP as an informative metric of predictive value, or at least knows which players are on which teams?

No, because that shit is totally boring -- unless I can tune that numbers mumbo-jumbo out while looking at some sick-ass cleavage at the same time. If not, I’m flipping from MTV2 right back to MTV pronto.  

Check out all of this incredible interaction!

 

 

 

 

Hey, social media interaction is social media interaction -- even if these tweets were typed out on keyboards encrusted with mouth-breathing-adolescent ejaculate. The viral lift is real.

Did you miss Off the Bat on TV because you were trying to un-stick the pages of the latest issue of Maxim? You can watch highlights of these episodes here and here.

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