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The St. Louis Flat-Earthers

It's a joke. Don't you get it? Humor. Droll satire by a prankster?

Let me make this as clear as I can. St. Louis pitcher and new Fox TV baseball analyst Adam Wainwright complained on air last Tuesday that he had spent 2020 trying to fight shortstop and teammate Paul DeJong's ignorance.

But it was a joke. Must have been.

Wainwright is a known provocateur and humorist with a straight face. We laugh. Ha!

According to Wainwright, DeJong and "Half the Cardinals are flat-Earthers" and also "There was no moonlanding" conspiracists. Flat-Earthers think the planet is a flat disc with massive walls of invisible ice, or cream cheese, around the edges. And the ringleader, he strongly implied, was DeJong whose playing performance metrics are not dissimilar to Cubs budding icon-in-training Javier Báez.

Multiple St. Louis sports bloggers were dubious of any DeJong involvement in what they generously though inaccurately called "pseudoscience."

DeJong's agent and business partner suggested it did not seem likely because DeJong is an Illinois State University graduate in biochemistry with a 3.74 GPA, and planned to attend medical school if baseball didn't work out.

He was proclaimed by Wainwright as "The smartest guy on the team."

DeJong's grandmother is a career chemist with Dow, for crying out loud. He's an amateur architect and avid science seeker.

If the flat-Earther story about DeJong is not just hilarious slander, it would be embarrassing on several counts because the Topps Baseball Card folks have teamed with DeJong to produce science videos with DeJong as the star.

It's a pandemic oasis for home-schooled scientific education. So he could not explain the rotation of a curveball in relation to the rotation of the Earth without announcing, "and by the way, kids, the Earth is not round. It's flat."

Won't do. TOPPS can't have a dumbass as an educational partner. Parents don't want conspiracy freakazoids teaching their kids.

But remember: It's just a joke. Or else several science professors at Illinois State would have to explain how they graduated a scientific dumbass.

Somebody who knows could say it was a joke. But nobody has. Not the Cardinals franchise. Not the Cardinals who Wainwright jabbed. Not Wainwright. And most thunderously loud in his silence, not DeJong.

Won't somebody speak up? Please. Anybody?

This "circumference of the Earth's globe" occasionally arises in college science classes - and junior high, too - so DeJong probably has heard about the 24,019-mile round Earth before. It's a lot farther if you have to drive over the Himalayas or through Nebraska.

However, science does not spend much time these days trying to disprove flat-Eartherism or show the sun's surface is hot. Or demonstrate gravity as if we didn't know it was real. Or reaffirm Copernicus or Galileo were right. Yes, the Earth spins as it rotates around the sun, not the other way around. Even the Catholic Church figured that out after 300 years of dumbassness, and let Galileo out of Hell.

We have math and visual observation and everything. DeJong could ask any pilot of a long-distance commercial flight to let him see the round horizon as they fly toward and then over it. No navigation is possible without accounting for the planet's roundness. Every pilot who has flown the circumference of our world has seen that. As has every mariner who left the beach and sailed over the curved horizon to invisibility.

For the record: No, sorry. Flat-Eartherism is not pseudo, conceptual, theoretical, or any other kind of science. It's wackadoodle nonsense. Flat-Earthers think Fred Flintstone was a documentary. It's Ronald McDonald With The Big Red Shoes meets Holocaust Denial.

NASA and spaceflight are not Saturday Night Live skits.

So it must be a funster, razzing escapade, or else thousands of Cardinals fans are rooting for scientific idiots.

But some fans are nervous. It's been a week after Wainwright's pronouncement during his stint in the Fox broadcast booth, and there has been no reporting from hometown journalists of record at the Post-Dispatch, to rectify the misunderstandings. Likewise, DeJong's agent suggested it was unlikely true, but that was not based on an actual conversation with DeJong.

But DeJong? Not a peep.

Wainwright? No comprende.

It's like Andy Kaufman doing a gig and all the Cardinals participating.

One generous theory behind the silence is that some ideas are so clearly preposterous that even denying them affords the stupidity inferential credibility.

DeJong and his teammates believing in flat-Eartherism is only slightly more preposterous than flat-Eartherism itself. So it can't be true, right?

For the record, aviator Wiley Post leaped past 2,000 years of science and simply flew around the world in 1933, though not to show it was round. Mostly to show that a pilot with one eye and a stout plane could do it. Didn't fall off the edge or crash into an invisible wall. Took him 7 days, 18 hours, and 49 minutes.

Amelia Earhart almost achieved the feat before she crashed into a Pacific island on her way home. But she didn't fall off the end of the world.

Hundreds of expeditions and thousands of fliers and sailors have done it. Magellan's fleet took three years and one month in 1522, but nobody tumbled into a cosmic abyss.

We are approaching 500 years of observable fact.

Nobody has fallen off the edge, if you exclude Flight 19.

You can prove the Earth is round with this experiment.

Here's a similar proof constructed just for dummies.

We have known this fact for 2,200 years.

But even fans should be suspicious of "He couldn't be that dumb, could he?" theorems. Scientific history is filled with brilliant people - gravity-finder Isaac Newton and oxygen-discoverer Joseph Priestly for example - who also believed totally dumb-ass ideas.

What, you might ask, should anyone care that a major league baseball player thinks such things?

It's fairly simple A fence bisects humanity. On one side are people who use logic, science and provable, replicated fact to shape their ideas about the world and their place in it; on the other side of the fence are dumbasses.

Dumbasses assert that you must respect their ideas as much as smart ideas. But you don't. That demand itself is a dumb-ass idea.

Stupidity is an immutable barrier to excellence, even for sports. Flat-Eartherism feels like a self-pronouncement of stupidity.

Plus, from a totally selfish point of view, you resent discovering that you've been rooting for dumbasses, even ones who can hit sliders and field short-hop grounders. Even ones who graduated from Antioch High, five miles from where you live.

Should you believe that athletes are heroes, then consider this: Heroes are not allowed to be dumbasses. Violates the entry code. No shirts, no shoes, no dumbasses allowed.

If they are talented sports dumbasses, that implies you must respect their minds as educated adults, too. Can't do that.

This likely is all irrelevant to the moment because it's finely wrought humor by Wainwright, who is known for cleverness. What a great kidder.

So it's a joke. We're sure.

Aren't we?


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, and more importantly, the former author of the Beachwood's late, great "The Week In WTF" column. His most recent piece for us was Don't Blame Trubisky. Blame Bears' Schulz. You can also check him out at his Theeditor50's blog. He welcomes your comments.

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