When I was a child, few parental comebacks were a straighter path to absolute meltdown than “Because I said so.” Then again, I also melted down over peas, the Tic Tac Dough dragon, and tags in my clothing, so that may or may stand as the most condemnatory indictment.
But now that the dragon is removed as an obstacle to my happiness, I’m left with rising up at being told what to do, particularly when these commands issue from Twitter. My general response to “You don’t get to X” is invariably “Okay, well, I’m just gonna X even harder, so probably not the best persuasion strategy, Chief.”
Therefore, when I come across an attempt to emphasize via command, you have my attention, although not in the likes-awarding, I-want-to-be-your-bestie way.
Aaron Judge's 62 home runs is a remarkable achievement.
Barry Bonds' 73 home runs is the record.
There is nothing else to discuss.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 5, 2022
A few months ago I began writing for an organization specializing in conflict transformation, which isn’t about resolving conflicts at all. The focus of conflict transformation in this context is de-escalation, to first acknowledge that there are certain issues about which we’re never going to reach an agreement, and that’s okay, and even healthy in a democratic republic. It is calmly asking everyone to stop screaming and conduct these disagreements in a fashion so that we’re not building guillotines every five minutes.
One of these tactics is called “complicating the narrative.” It first applied to journalists, but as this concept has spread, it’s come to extend beyond news coverage. It means that people should include in their assessment of a topic the facts, studies, questions, and arguments that do not fit into their own, or even the prevailing, narrative. It is a matter of resisting the human penchant for straight-edged, stackable categorization. Not only does this mindset tend to refine critical thinking skills, it decreases polarization and dehumanizing language by emphasizing that the vast majority of social issues are complex, with many moving parts and moral questions. One size rarely fits all.
So “There’s nothing else to discuss” almost certainly indicates that there is more to discuss, and we should probably discuss it. Shutting down debate before it even gets started is an excellent way to lay the first beam of wood for Guillotines Version 2.0.
Particularly when we’re talking about the really important stuff, like home run records:
There’s plenty to discuss. It’s baseball. It’s a sport built for discussion. Events throughout the history of the game have been discussed for decades. I hardly think it all suddenly has to stop with Barry Bonds.
— Dodger Cards (@dodgers_cards) October 5, 2022
Baseball is indeed a sport built for discussion. It’s difficult to carry on a first-date conversation at a basketball game what with all the shoe squeaking and buzzers terrifying small children; baseball is a wonderfully different story. A change in pitchers is the perfect opportunity to discuss whether what the wedding colors will be. (I’m starting to realize why, perhaps, I didn’t have more second dates.)
A football game can literally change directions in an instant. Which is fine. We need competition like that. But it’s also nice to have a more lavishly democratic pastime in which there are still two more outs to go, so best be patient.
The slower pace of baseball encourages discussion and depth; this is why it is the sport of the family in America, from tee ball to the majors. More kids might cluster around a soccer ball than a dugout in youth sports, but take that action to the MLS level, and you can’t hear yourself Googling “how to quickly change phone number.”
When baseball rests, we do as well, but the talk continues. The Hot Stove League is so named because we huddle together in the harshest months. The players heal; the managers regroup. We discuss. We talk about last season, and next season, and indeed the 1998 home run record chase.
Which was complicated.