Is This Heaven?


There’s something you don’t see every day – Kevin Costner in a baseball movie. Hard to tell which one…maybe Field of Dreams or Bull Durham, or that one where he’s an aging pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. Actually, I think there were two movies where he played that part. Whatever. There’s a lot of existential talk about life and damp grass and the smell of leather mitts as guys gaze sappily off into the distance. I guess those scenes where someone is trotting around the bases in slow motion or squinting in from the mound while adjusting his grip on the ball would be the “action” sequences. Jesus, The English Patient packed more “edge-of-your-seat” moments than this.

And yet I’ve watched them all, hoping to discover the secret to this “sport” that has eluded me all these years. Essentially it appears to be one guy with a stick trying to break up a game of catch between two other guys – for two and a half hours. The inordinate amount of adjusting and expectorating is apparently meant to compensate for the fact that very little else is happening. The bad news – this will be repeated 162 times. The good news – I think we’ve found an alternative to waterboarding.

Hey, I’m as big a fan of overpriced hot dogs and watered-down beer as the next guy. But some of us would rather prune an ingrown toenail than sit through nine innings of “America’s pastime.” Even the announcers, whose job it is to keep the game interesting, fall silent for great stretches of time, rendered speechless by the glacial pace. I can appreciate the fact that every sporting contest has its ebb and flow, but with baseball you really can’t tell the difference. It’s probably because of all that standing around. And yet, the total payroll for the 30 MLB teams last year came to nearly $3 billion. I’m no bean-counter, but if ever there was a business that could benefit from a productivity analysis…

About this time of year friends start to post the spring training countdown on facebook. “Only two more weeks until catchers and pitchers report,” they gush, no doubt having just wet themselves. Because nothing renews the spirit quite like the yearly gathering of pampered millionaires elite athletes doing calisthenics in their pajamas while testing the limits of how much chew the human cheek can hold.

I’ll admit, I never connected with the storied tradition and romance of the game. The batter’s intricate dance as he digs in at the plate, the steely resolve of the pitcher as he stares down his opponent, the pools of brown sputum fermenting in the dugout. Or even, for that matter, the seventh-inning stretch – that time-honored ritual where fans stand and sing a rousing rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while waiting for feeling to return to their asses. A more jaded person might think it’s actually a safety measure instituted by Major League Baseball to try and prevent mass cases of deep vein thrombosis.

No, I’m afraid even my man-love for Kevin Costner isn’t enough to sell me on the sport. I don’t care how many times he gets all misty-eyed sniffing a catcher’s mitt.


7 thoughts on “Is This Heaven?

  1. I’m a baseball fan, love my Astros no matter how bad they are, but I liked this because of how well you articulated your feelings about this subject. It was tough pushing the Like star for an article pointing out the negatives of baseball, no matter how true some of them are. Bravo! Great job.

  2. “Back in the day” … one of my best memories is puttering in the garden or yard with Dad while we listened to the Tigers or White Sox on our portable radio (THE high tech invention). Our town was part of the Connie Mack league – summers of college age boys traveling to small towns to compete at local fields; and the whole town turned out for these exciting games. They were …exciting… even pro ball was exciting till money and jumbotrons and loud music and no-one-staying-in-their-seats took all the fun out of the one activity that was about ‘no activity’ other than cheering for well-executed plays (non-existent in the era of big hitters). So sad.

    • That may be my biggest complaint…those pampered millionaires with egos so big there’s hardly room at the ballpark for the fans. “Field of Dreams” is actually one of my favorite movies, probably because it focuses on the days when “it was a game.” The same issues are quickly sucking the fun from football as well.

      • Curt -like Almost Iowa’s post today, you are triggering more thoughts than I can write about here. Will start work on a related post – that’s what good bloggers like you two do – energize the rest of us 😋

  3. I am with you on this one. Baseball is a game designed to be played not watched. Come to think of it, so is football and hockey. Why watch someone else have all the fun?

    Having said that, professional baseball is at its best coming from a radio balanced on a window sill on one warm Saturday afternoon with old man puttering around the house, painting or fixing something… in that, I will always love baseball.

    • And I’m with you on the “radio” aspect of the game…it’s the only way baseball should be broadcast. The easy-going voice of Ernie Harwell (on those warm midwestern afternoons) will forever be my window to the Tigers.

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