My affinity for baseball is largely romantic, a medley of images and associations: the smell of leather and linseed oil, the crack of a bat making solid contact. I’ve always been drawn to the game’s serene rhythms broken by an eruption from the crowd.
I’ve also become an anomoly among sports’ fans.
The headline here borrows from a 2003 Bruce Wexler article in Newsweek titled “Poetry is dead. Does anyone really care?” The author contends that poetry is an artform that befits a different time and a different pace of life, something that has been reduced to a niche interest, largely obsolete to the masses.
I share Wexler’s article in my Creative Writing classes to begin the study of poetry, to try and answer his assertions. It now occurs to me that poetry and baseball—both interests of mine—have more in common than I originally thought.
It seems my passions have married on death row.
With the baseball season suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s become abundantly clear that—aside from the traditionalists and loyalists to the game—most people could care less that baseball is gone because most people weren’t paying attention when it was being played.
Baseball’s public relations problems far outdate the current pandemic that has upended all of our lives. Before the season was placed on hiatus, baseball was already the consummate cuckold to the other faster, more exciting professional sports.
The litany of bitches about baseball is notable: The games take too long; there’s not enough action; the sport suppresses the displays of celebration that appeal to the younger audiences; and the only people watching are geriatric fundamentalists, dogged in their opposition to any changes to the rules.
And to a certain extent, all are true.
However, the negotiations between the players’ union and MLB owners have done nothing but fuel the fires of fans’ collective contempt.
While baseball lends itself—perhaps more than any other professional sports, except golf—to safe the resumption of fan-free play, the league is stalling. The players’ health concerns regarding returning to play are legitimate and must be addressed. However, instead of amenable negotiations, we’re bombarded by the entitled Millennial whining of Blake Snell and Bryce Harper about their paychecks.
In the midst of the national tragedy whose carnage includes over 110,000 human lives and 30 million jobs, these multi-million dollar brats are haggling about money.
If baseball doesn’t return this season, will anyone—other than guys like me—really care if it comes back at all? Will anyone care if it ever returns? Can’t Boston fans sing “Sweet Caroline” at a Celtics game?
I mean, who really reads poetry…I mean, watches baseball anymore?
In this silence, I’ve started to grieve. A cynic by disposition, I hope I’m overreacting because there will never be anything to replace a cold beer and a steamed hot dog in a ballpark on warm summer afternoon, taking in a live game.
But maybe I’m just one romantic in a shrinking and indifferent new world.