Friday, October 15, 2004

Baseball Meditations on an Off Day

Off days during a Championship Series can lead to much discussion and deliberation. Schilling’s ankle. Johnny Damon’s drought. And here’s mine: why do I like baseball anyways?

I grew up a Red Sox fan, bought and traded baseball cards, and dreamed the Impossible Dream in 1967 when the Sox finally climbed out of the cellar in which they had been playing for what seemed to me forever and clinched the pennant on the final day of the season.

But when I went to college, I dropped baseball. It was bourgeois and meanlingless. Only to come back to it for good in 1974 when Fisk and Lynn and Rice and especially Bill Lee made things interesting again.

I understand all the absurdities of the situation: it’s just a non-consequential game in which grown men receive several millions of dollars for a matter of mass entertainment while the ills of society grow around it. But as Bill Lee said: “When cerebral processes enter into sports, you start screwing up. It's like the Constitution, which says separate church and state. You have to separate mind and body.” Or mind and spectatorship I would add.

Ah hell, I should just let the Spaceman, my all-time baseball hero, continue here: "I would change policy, bring back natural grass and nickel beer. Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball, and you straighten out the rest of the world." And: "I think about the cosmic snowball theory. A few million years from now the sun will burn out and lose its gravitational pull. The earth will turn into a giant snowball and be hurled through space. When that happens it won't matter if I get this guy out."

And that’s what baseball means to me. It’s the belly button I like to contemplate knowing that the earth in time is just a swing away from being a snowball anyways.
Contemplating Box Scores on an Off Day

Falling leaves are just a breath
away from snowballs and designs
inscribed in summonses of icy
blizzards—baseball intertwines
itself with great nor’easter storms,
writing on walls cuneiforms,

civilization’s earliest
statistics. O my Babylon,
the Great Bambino, Sultan King
of Naught, your vast phenomenon
need always fail its final call,
the only fielder’s choice come fall.
Now repeat after me: no rain, no rain, no rain. Just lint.

Update: see my complete Red Sox ALCS/World Series chapblog here.


Anonymous said...

mmmmmmmm just lovely

leslee said...

I love the Spaceman. This bit reminds of the saying about Manny - "Manny Ramirez in the batter's box: a face unclouded by thought."