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Archive for Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Baseball throws the calendar away

October 28, 2009

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We have tampered with the forces of the universe and laughed in the face of mother nature, and now we’ve created something ugly and unholy. I’m not talking about climate change, global warming or frankenfoods, but something closer to my heart: the World Series schedule.

Halloween is a scant three nights away, and the first pitch of game 1 of the World Series (6:30 p.m., Fox) has not yet been thrown. Who do the folks at Major League Baseball think they’re kidding? We’ve already had one postseason game called on account of snow.

The baseball schedule is called a “season” for a reason. It corresponds to planting, agriculture, harvests and all that horticultural jazz. I’m no farmer, but you hear the first crack of the bat when the ground is no longer frozen; you play the All Star Game when corn is a little over knee high, and you put your outdoor toys away when the frost is on the pumpkin. Somebody at Major League Baseball forgot about that.

To put this mutant schedule in historical perspective, the seventh game of the 1960 Fall Classic was played Oct. 13. The 1975 World Series, another seven-game classic, concluded Oct. 22. Even the 2000 World Series, played under the current double-league playoff system, ended by Oct. 26.

If the 2009 series goes seven games, it won’t end until Nov. 5, two days after Election Day and with Thanksgiving breathing down our necks. Maybe they can get Santa Claus to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

• Frances McDormand narrates “The Botany of Desire” (7 p.m., PBS, check local listings), a two-hour special based on a book by popular naturalist Michael Pollan.

Pollan asks us to reverse some of our assumptions about man and the natural world. We’ve long believed that man was the top of the food chain, bending nature to our will.

“Botany” argues, or at least suggests, that we look at things from the plants’ point of view and see how mankind has been doing a lot of heavy lifting on behalf of certain species. Apples were once limited to the forests of Kazakhstan, but because they satisfied a human desire for sweetness, people have spread apple seeds across the globe. Did man exploit the apple? Or was it the other way around? He takes a similar look at the culture and cultivation of potatoes, tulips and marijuana.

Even if you don’t buy Pollan’s argument, “Botany” is packed with facts and insights about natural history and human nature. In fact, it’s almost too crammed with ideas to swallow in one sitting. “Botany” would have done better to run in four separate segments.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The voices of Reese Witherspoon, Hugh Laurie and Seth Rogen animate the movie spinoff “Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” (7 p.m., NBC).

• The 1966 special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (7 p.m., ABC) repeats for a second night.

• Fencing lessons on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC).

• “MythBusters” (8 p.m., Discovery) examines assumptions about cheese as cannon-fodder.

• The big holiday arrives on “Eastwick” (9 p.m., ABC). How do you celebrate Halloween in a town where every day is Halloween?

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