2.15.2006

we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life

I was listening to sports radio today at work (not EEI) and for some reason, the topic was America's waning interest in baseball. Like everything else, I have various unpopular opinions about the reasons why, but I won't get into them. The guys on the radio (Providence) talked about choosing teams while on the bus ride home from school and playing til it was dark or suppertime and the furor and fever of it all.

I never played baseball as a kid. My sole experiences with a bat and glove were the occasional foray into gym class softball and I don't really remember "getting on base" or "catching the ball".

Last year, for reasons I can't recall, my sister and I went and bought a Louisvile slugger and invented a crude baseball-type game called "Texas Ten-Pitch". Something about flinging a ball around after supper caught on with various hangabouts and people started getting their gloves out. I soon came to the conclusion that I threw like a girl. This revelation was aided by my friends and family pointing out that I was not throwing the ball properly. So in a way, ridicule and derision helped me greatly.

Then one day my friend Kayla said, "We should play baseball." And a small number of us would go out to an empty field and do basic drills: hitting, fielding, pitching, etc. Not enough of us to form teams or anything, but damn. It was good stuff.

And so we spread the word. More and more people started showing up. Gloves were dusted off. Bruises were proudly displayed. We were able to do split squad games. Positions were assigned, shifts were put on, post-game margaritas were consumed. On a couple of occasions, we had opponents.

There was something SO GOOD about changing into shorts, sneakers, and a t-shirt in the bathroom at work and hauling ass down to the field to get a little warm-up time in. And you know what? I have NO BUSINESS playing baseball. Ask anyone. I'm pathetic.

But there we were, a bunch of adults with various levels of ability prancing around on Tuesdays and Fridays until it got too dark to see the ball. And we were so into it. Our ranks fluctuated and eventually died out completely, but we played as long as we could.

I don't know when we're starting up again, and we're down a few members, but spring's coming (I think) and I can't wait.

So as far as baseball's waning popularity... I'm sorry, I was too busy turning this conversation back to myself. Kids like basketball now. The End.

2 comments:

JS said...

I'm commenting on my own post. Would like to add that I posted this after consuming several beers. Keep that in mind.

01245 said...

I played softball last year - first time ever. I'm 34 and I was far from the oldest person on my team. Apart from the game, I love the comradery. There's no better feeling than getting on base for your team. Or flipping the ball to make an out. Or stopping a hard grounder. Or hitting one into a pocket. Or watching one of your best hitters smack the ball over the fence/imaginary boundary. I had a lot of scrapes and whatnot, too, but it was worth it.

I'm curious about what has caused this dip in interest in the sport. I've never really looked into it, just heard soundbites here and there about it not being the sport of choice for young people. I should say "boys," though, right? Since, even if every single girl put on a glove and packed fields in America, there would never be a WMLB. One of the most moving museum exhibits I've ever seen was the room in Cooperstown celebrating the women's league. How did I suddenly make this a feminist issue? Geez.