Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Choosing Your Lumber

Baseball was the game when I was young.

I played it; watched it on television; listened to it on the radio. I read about it in the paper every day, and in magazines every week, and in books every year. And it's dead to me now.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like hockey or basketball, both deader than a pharaoh and literally totally out of my world in any form. I mean that baseball has ceased to have any meaning for me.

Baseball is an exhibition, like a sort of Harlem Globetrotters game or a carnival sideshow exhibit. The fix is in. The idea that you're seeing a tussle between mighty warriors encapsulating great themes is long gone. What you're watching is the collusion between grasping, grabby freaks and cheaters, and their employers, to part you from your money. That's it.

I like to listen to the sports talk radio station all day. Music gets boring, and the tempest in a teapot nature of crackpot callers about lineup cards is charming. It's nasty to listen to people yell at each other over politics on the radio. Too much is at stake to make it entertaining. I like when people get insane over nothing. That's fun.

99% of callers to sports radio regarding all sports consist of men who cannot dress and wash themselves properly, who emit an audible gasp of exertion just by sitting down, and can't perform third grade long division, calling the billionaire owners of teams and their MBA executives stupid, then calling players so strong and well conditioned that they could pull a lion inside out lazy. It's kind of a hoot, and I must admit I never tire of it, but I get my entertainment from it in a sort of nasty way. I'm not laughing with you... sorry.

They all say the same thing. If I was the owner, I'd just trade all our bad players to the other teams for all their good players.


If they are referring to the players, they point out that it would be preferable for them to hit a home run every time, unless you are a pitcher, who is supposed to strike out 27 batters a game. That's what they would do, after all.

But that's amusing, but not the reason why baseball is a joke. It's a joke because the best players aren't playing.

If you're a baseball player, you get paid. You can loaf down to first base, have fistfights with your teammates, beat up your wife if you ever bother to marry her, fake injury, whatever; all you have to do is try hard enough at first to get the ink on the paper and then you can't be fired. You can't be benched. You can't be traded. you can't be disciplined in any meaningful way. The team is stuck with you and your contract, and that's that.

The Boston Red Sox won the world series after 86 years. The most valuable player of the World Series is a player the team tried to give away before the season began, and no one would take him, his insane contract, and his bizarre behavior and ambivalent attitude. Why would that victory have any meaning to me?

In a way, he's the only player I like. Crazy Manny Ramirez. He couldn't care less about what town he's playing in. He doesn't know how many outs there are. He loafs. When he feels like it, he hits. He's been playing in this town for the better part of a decade and still lives in a hotel. There's no pretense.

At least I don't have to listen to any drivel about giving 110 percent from him. He knows it's a joke, that league, and that a guy that can turn on a 95 mile per hour fastball in a fraction of a second can't be found by thumbing through the phone book. He knows that the kid that hustles, that tries, that exhibits the character traits that would make his sport into something meaningful is never going to take his job.

If you wanted to watch people cash checks, they'd put up bleachers at the drive through teller. What in the hell are you doing at the ballpark?


Anonymous said...

nyjtiNice post. Radio sports talk is much better than the ESPN TV version, with its contrived arguments over non stories and Oprah like "human interest" segments.


Anonymous said...

HeH. Great Post. Welcome to the Club. What took ya' so long. Heh. I smile and heh at you, bro. I hit that bump in the road 20 years ago when I happened upon a baseball game out in the wilds of Calvert County, MD. There were no white players. Just Blacks. My god, what a game!!! Ruined Pro baseball forever, for me. Standing at the rickety fence watching the game for free I realized what I had been missing from Pro baseball. see ya.

Wolf Flywheel said...

Amen. Like you, I didn't lose baseball. It lost me. I used to watch with my grandfather and was able to become greatly interested in my younger years, but that sport is gone now. Glad to see I'm not alone. ---By the way. My cohort and I have to Sippican cottage on our site. I hope you don't mind.

Wolf Flywheel said...

That should've read "A LINK to Sippican Cottage". I am quite embarrassed by my grammar, I assure you.