As a Chicagoan I have a pessimistic yet optimistic view of America’s pastime. I know that sounds a little confusing so I’ll elaborate. Baseball means spring is here and the days will be longer, the nights will be warmer and we’ll have yet another thing to talk about as we blandly while away our meaningless hours on the face of this planet before we all turn to dust. But we’re probably going to heaven, where the Cubs win every year. (This is also hell for Sox fans). You can now see what I mean about being pessimistically optimistic.
There have been a lot of reasons why baseball is called the National Pastime and I’m not here to try and describe them all to you. If you don’t know by now then you’re probably strictly a football fan and find baseball more boring than a lobotomized monkey race. (Which is our nation’s second favorite pastime; it’s called Congress.) The reason I think it’s such a beloved sport is the amount of time we spend sitting with each other engaged in a collective experience. It’s a lot like going to the movie theater with a big crowd and participating in the ooh’s and ahh’s of the audience when Keanu saves a bag full of kittens from the jaws of a giant squid.
There’s something to the spring/summer air washing over the crowd at a baseball game while the pitcher meets with the trainer for 15 minutes to take care of a hangnail. There’s just something magical about it. I haven’t actually gone to a baseball game in two years because I don’t like paying that much for beer, food and mediocre entertainment. I would rather watch Keanu Reeves as Gorsh the Nordic Squid Slayer in IMAX. But most Americans, real Americans, love their baseball and can’t wait to shell out forty or fifty bucks a person to watch guys run around on a field spitting and fielding their balls.
I was a baseball fan. I was a White Sox fan as a boy, a Cubs fan as a Twenty-something and now a thirty-something couldn’t give a rat’s ass fan. I’ll still watch it on TV and maybe even root for a particular game or pitching situation, but I’m not willing to open my heart to baseball any further. They hurt me too much.
I used to work at Wrigley Field. I used to watch Sammy Sosa in the batting cages and practice on the field. I saw Michael Jordan, while he was publicly masturbating, play for the minor league Barons team against the Cubs. I watched poor Steve Bartman get destroyed by a baseball public that really should have known it was the blown double play ball that cost them the game, not Bartman. I jumped up and down like a man on fire when the Sox won the World Series. I’ve had my heart broken too many times by a particular north side ballclub. I’ve had a lot of amazing baseball experiences. But all of it has left me somewhat bitter and unconcerned.
Baseball will go on, there’s no doubt about it, but I’ll keep my distance. (Unless you’re a super model that digs me and wants to take me to baseball games every weekend, in that case, PLAY BALL!)