tclakin

Baseball’s Back – And So Am I

In Uncategorized on April 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm

So it looks like it’s baseball season again. And for the first time in several years, that really  means something to me.

Somewhere along the line I had a falling out with my favorite game. It was the steroids that did it, or at least that’s what I told myself. When I’d stop believing that for a second, I’d say it was the skyrocketing salaries that were souring the game game … but that wasn’t true either. Finally, I blamed it on the sabermetrics movement, those guerilla geeks storming the beaches of my beloved game waving their Bill James Abstracts like AK-47s and mowing down what was left of its magic.

(Actually I still think it’s partly their fault. There’s nothing inherently wrong with super-stats, and by nature baseball lends itself to statistical analysis, but when we’ve reached the point where I can’t have a discussion about the game without feeling like I need a PhD in math, well that’s when we’ve gone too far. And, by the way – we’ve definitely gone too far.)

But in those quiet moments when I’m being truly honest with myself, I know it’s not the steroids or the salaries or even the stat geeks that have driven me slowly and inexorably from the game.

It’s me. It’s my own fault.

Somewhere in the jumble of iPhones and the Internet and DVR, I lost sight of the game I loved. I’d flick on the Sox and not five minutes later I’d be fiddling with my phone or checking my laptop. Who has time for three hour games anymore?, I’d think, and flip to something else. Baseball just seemed so … slow.

And then one cold day this winter, somewhere between the third and 37th snow storm, with sleet whipping my living room window and the heat bill steadily climbing, I started thinking about baseball.

I put down my phone, turned off the TV, and I just sat there. Thinking.

Weird, I thought. I haven’t done this in a while.

That’s when it hit me like an Albert Pujols liner:

Baseball hasn’t changed. I have.

And it’s not just me. You’ve changed, too. We all have. The world has. Think about it: Am I any busier than, say, a steel worker in the 1940s?

Nope.

What about an advertising executive in the 60s?

Definitely not.

And yet they all had time for baseball. But somehow I don’t? Why is that? What am I doing that’s so important that it prevents me from enjoying the slow burn of an afternoon Sox game?

Nothing.

Actually, not nothing. I’m doing lots of stuff, all the time, but that’s just it: it’s stuff. Empty. Hollow. Stuff.

TV. Facebook. Surfing the iPad. YouTube. Twitter.

That stuff doesn’t make me busy, or diligent, it makes me distracted. And I’m not alone. At some point, we all came down with a case of Cultural ADD. We stopped talking to each other. We sunk ourselves into the Web like quicksand. We – young people in America – we all got distracted.

The funny thing is, it makes no sense: Our phones and our computers and our televisions got more efficient and somehow we all got busier. Weird, isn’t it?

Maybe you’re not like me. Not everyone is. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, What is he talking about? But chances are you’re not.

Chances are you’ve thought, at least once or twice in the last few years, that baseball is slipping. That baseball games simply take too damn long. That perhaps football, with its flash and its violence and its sheer speed, is a little more representative of America in this electric Year of Our Lord, 2011.

And you’d be right. The Now Culture doesn’t leave a lot of time for four hour baseball games. But here, on this first (official) day of the baseball season, I offer up a challenge:

Make time.

Make time for baseball. If you truly love it, make time for Our Game. And it’s still Our Game, mind you, no matter what it says on Twitter – because baseball, bless it’s American heart, never really changes.

Sure, the players get bigger and the stadiums more lavish and everybody makes a helluva lot more money, but the sport stays relatively the same. It’s still nine guys on a green field playing a kid’s game.

And that’s exactly how I’m going to watch baseball this year – as a kid’s game. I’m going to remember the game for what it was when I was ten. We all should, because baseball is not about stats, or money, or high-profile perjury trials. Those things are part of the game, sure, but they aren’t the important part. The important part, the magical part, the Ray Kinsella part, is the feeling baseball gives you, the power it has to transport you to a simpler time.

At it’s core, baseball is a sandlot game. It’s a game of summer and sunburns and cold lemonade. It’s a lazy river. It’s the start of spring. Baseball is about rounding up a couple buddies and playing til it gets dark or mom calls you in for dinner, whichever comes first. It’s a game of sun and sweat and sneaking your first chew. It’s about acting like a big leaguer, and it’s about pretending you’re a kid again. Baseball is a game of heroes and tall tales and memories you thought you’d forgotten. It’s about living and life. It’s about history. It’s about love. That’s baseball.

Or at least that’s what it is for me. I can’t believe I’d forgotten.

Happy opening day.

Advertisements
  1. I’m right with ya… for me it’s the 162 game season… it’s almost too easy to not pay attention for large chunks of time and not have it matter. but is there anything better than enjoying your first 75 degree baseball game in person? Absolutely not. Hands down the best sport to see in person.

    PS… you need to do an investigative article on this bottoms up beer tap… i truly don’t understand the physics of how it works. i have never been this confused or amazed by a product since i discovered the slap bracelet.

  2. Love it show! Looking forward to this season bigtime!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: