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What if, Babe? A review of Harry Turtledove’s “The House that George Built”

Nowhere do the seemingly mutually exclusive entertainments of sport and science-fiction come closer than in that simple musing question “what if…?”

In sport, the question is often lamentably formed of second-guessing the decision of manager, general manager, umpire or player. To wit:

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The (E)X(ley)-Files: Reviewing “The Unnatural”

Obviously aliens: Josh Exley…

Full disclosure: BuckBokai always hated the X-Files, considering the series essentially a science-fiction bastard child of obnoxious 1980s cop melodrama Miami Vice and the early 90s stupidity that was Twin Peaks. Nevertheless, since, as per the mainstream American TV norm, the ‘Files include a baseball-themed episode, season six’s “The Unnatural,” BuckBokai today turns back the clock 13 years for a viewing and reviewing of the episode.

Those familiar with the exploits of super-secret government agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully can recall that scripts mostly consisted of a load of unlikely lines and in-references poorly delivered by the principals. “The Unnatural” is happily at least half an exception here, a standalone episode with the presence of Mulder and Scully kept to a minimum via means of a frame-story device; David Duchovny directed this one and actually incorporates some nice visual touches linking the two eras of the story.

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William Webb-Ellis: Locus of alternate histories

You want to talk what-if scenarios, serious parallel universe-creating moments from the world of sports? Forget relatively trivial stuff like Michael Jordan going to the Portland Trail Blazers in the draft or Harry Frazee taking up the Chicago White Sox’ offer for George Herman Ruth: Go back to 1823 to find a guy that, through simply wanting to gain an advantage in a sports match literally changed world history.

The overwhelming majority of North Americans have never heard the man’s name, despite his literal hand in the creation of three sports currently played and enjoyed by billions. Though he never recorded an official statistic, his effect on the sports universe was a cataclysmic bolt that changed everything. Though his innovation was sometimes called “cheating” by contemporaries, his mode of play now defines leagues all over the world.

Ladies of gentlemen, BuckBokai presents the single most important figure in the history of modern sport itself: William Webb-Ellis!

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“What if?” sports moments (or Without “Without Bias”)

One sphere wherein science-fiction and sports meet nicely is in the realm of alternate universes. O sure, in sports they call it the “What If” game, but endlessly do fans debate what might have been…

Infinite are the parallel universes that splintered off from reality when Bobby Thompson missed Ralph Branca’s inside fastball for strike two, when Harry Frazee took the Chicago White Sox’ offer of $60,000 and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson for Babe Ruth; when Scott Norwood makes the field goal; when the Portland Trail Blazers draft Michael Jordan at no. 2.

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