Home » Creative writing » The Monday Rant #2 – I Heart Baseball

The Monday Rant #2 – I Heart Baseball

baseball game

baseball game (Wikipedia)

A well made documentary fascinates me, so I relish the ones from Ken Burns. I just spent a lot of my weekend with “Baseball” (again) which brings me to the second in my series of Monday Rants. This one is gentle, really, so we can all relax.

I love to listen to baseball stories from fans who love the game. The emotions, surrounding details, and rich past of this game encompass much of American history, exciting, happy, sometimes sad. This documentary series is one of the greats.

Of course, there is a rub. I can’t sit through an actual baseball game. As a young teen, I tried to watch a couple on TV with my brother, but he stopped letting me ask questions during the first. (I wrote a story back then about why, which used to be pretty famous for inciting laughter around my house — maybe I should go dig that out and see if it’s any good.) My brother thought I could pick up any particulars I didn’t understand by just watching. Trouble was, any time I watched nothing much happened. Baseball games made my eyelids heavy and caused my head to loll back. Nothing about watching a real game from the beginning made me feel anything but startled that reality could actually move in slow motion. I’d thought that only happened in films.

If you tell me about the players and give me the story that explains how a certain play can change things, baseball becomes wonderful for me like rock and roll, like writing a one hundred word story, almost like cupcakes. Without that, it drives me nuts.

Now before baseball-lovers light into me, I have to say how much I love baseball stories and movies. When the undercurrents are illuminated, I get it and tingle with excitement like any other fan. Without the backstory, I feel like I’m watching a French movie about dinner conversation, without subtitles.

I get misty about some of the stories and archival film in The Ken Burns documentary, and I see the poetry of baseball in movies from “The Bad News Bears” to “The Natural.” I just can’t sit through an actual game.

Before I started writing this, I considered what it might be like to watch paint dry. Thoughts like these came to mind: “Watching paint dry is weird. Look at it. Amazing how that sheen of the wet paint will turn into a matte surface. The color will change a bit, too. Sometimes the color’s lighter when it’s dry. And that smell… is that the VOC’s? It’s good you can buy paint these days with little or none of that awful stuff in it. Amazing how a different color can do so much to brighten up a room and …” Well, you get the point. When I try to watch baseball on TV, it elicits thoughts like these: “Zzzzzzzzzzzzz…”

Ken Burns’ documentary indirectly addresses my boredom when it says how the fans’ hunger for spectacular plays and amazing feats has driven some players to push their abilities with performance-enhancing drugs. Though that’s a personal decision a player makes, I hung my head just a little as if I was being pointed at. But come on! This isn’t my fault.

I can sit through football any time even though I couldn’t explain a formation or identify a play if my life depended on it. I know when they’re running the ball or passing, which down it is and how many yards to go. I don’t seek football out anymore, but I get it and I enjoy it. Yet somehow this feels embarrassing considering my thoughts on violence and George Carlin’s stellar routine explaining the differences between baseball and football. But come on! You’ll find bad language, unkind epithets and even fights breaking out sometimes at baseball games, so it can’t be that I have a latent violent streak.

People have told me that I need to see a baseball game in person, but I’ve resisted attempts to get me to go out to the park because I’d be trapped there. What if it turned out to be the same for me as trying to follow the game on television?! Baseball games are lonnnnng. For me, it would be like being held hostage.

So there it is. I’ve given up trying to watch a whole game. Does it really matter? Ken Burns compiled the thrills and stuff that make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And I enjoyed it just as much as I did the recent documentaries on Vince Lombardi and Broadway Joe. It’s all good.

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22 thoughts on “The Monday Rant #2 – I Heart Baseball

  1. Very funny. The routine is great too. I’ve never watched a whole game of baseball (rarely covered) or American Football (frequently covered)on TV. I’ve always figured that my life was too short. I can’t watch cricket for the same reason ( and being an Englishman I should). I’m a soccer man myself – The Beautiful Game – πŸ™‚ (when it’s played well).
    PS. Wow, this comment has more brackets than the shelves I put up.

    • I’ve seen how soccer games move, so they seem interesting to me, but I don’t understand them either. I liked rugby when my ex’s son played, but I didn’t get to see more than the one game we went to that he played in. I liked that without ‘getting’ it, the way I like football. But as you said, life’s too short, so I don’t seek it out.

      Glad you liked Carlin’s routine. He always cracked me up. I almost looked for “Who’s on First” by Abott and Costello because I love that one, too, but I figured everyone’s heard it by now.

  2. This cracks me up. I am a huge football fan–it’s practically the only sport I understand. And it’s spectacular. To me it’s fascinating what men can do with their bodies that I could never do, even when I was young. I love it.

    Baseball is a bunch of men spitting and adjusting themselves. Yawn.

  3. Try a minor league game. Even if the game itself bores you to tears there is TONS going on at most of them for the fans. My kids are completely into minor league ball now. And when they get bored? There are bouncies. For the grownups, there’s always fan action between innings, making those slow moments feel more fast paced.

  4. Ha. Every time I go to a baseball game, I’m really excited at first. That beautiful field! The beer merchants! The soft pretzels! Ooh, someone caught the ball!

    But somewhere around the 6th or 7th inning, I am D-O-N-E and not even watching. Just making up stories in my head.

    I do agree with jesterqueen, though — there’s an independent league team near me, and their games are way more interesting for the following reasons: 1. The players make a lot more mistakes. 2. There are lots of activities/distractions going on. 3. No matter where you sit, you’re really close to the action and 4. Because you’re so close, you’re usually in danger of getting hit by a ball, which is terrifying and will keep you on your toes. Oh, and: 5. The beer and food is a lot cheaper, so you can actually buy these things.

    Spoken like a true baseball fan.

  5. Haha! I have never once made it through an entire baseball game, including the ones that I’ve actually gone to at the coaxing of someone else. My adult-onset self-diagnosed ADD just won’t allow me the luxury of paying attention for that long. Not a fan of football either (though I am subject to almost every game in this household. Father and son can’t get enough of that!) I generally get to crochet something beautiful while either is on. I’ll take soccer and tennis any day! Quick, active, and I pretty much get it!

    • Thanks! That’s so nice of you to say.

      I love that movie, too! It’s hard for me to believe I can’t sit through something so many feel so much emotion about, but I bet if James Earl Jones beckoned me to a game (and whispered in my ear throughout), I’d like it much better. πŸ™‚

  6. Oh, I am SO with you on this. I live with a Red Sox fan. And once I moved to Massachusets, I learned that everyone is supposed to loooooove baseball. You’re right about the characters, it can make it fun and the Sox have that great SNL skit that mocks their fans and makes it funny. One of their commentators, Don or Jerry, survived lung cancer and his return was very touching.

    That story you mention sounds great!

  7. Ouf, baseball is one of those things I just can’t muster up the least interest in. When I was in history grad school one of my classmates and I used to joke how we had insta-snooze codewords — hers was “the Second Great Awakening” and mine was anything to do with religious or political history. Any mention of the codewords and we were off and spacing, eyes glazing over, IQs down 100 points and no longer understanding English. Baseball does that to me. I can’t even pay attention to it in person; the last time I went to a game (sitting in fantastic seats my friend got us into for free), I had to sketch to stay awake.

    I can watch soccer, though. πŸ™‚ And that’s about the only sport I will watch. ;b

  8. Re, somehow missed this one. ME TOO! watching the Mets game right now. My favorite player was the great Willie Mays, and you may enjoy this little tidbit of baseball-ia. Mays was such a GREAT center fielder that sportswriters gave his glove a nickname – and a poetic one at that: “The place where triples go to die” love the post. and Carlin rocks. continue…

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