A Guide To Life Without Baseball

So first off. Baseball is America’s Pastime. And America is fucked up right now. And the truth is baseball has been over for a long time for many of us. The fact that it is not humming around in the background right now is odd, but it’s absence is not as conspicuous as we would like to admit.

Baseball is a leisure sport. It takes a lot of time, there are 162(!) games a year, and the stunning moments of athleticism are spaced out every half hour or so. Contrast this with the NBA where a 12 minute sizzle reel by FreeDawkins (#freefreedawkins) and you’ve basically watched the entire game. Says a lot about our culture, I think.

The literature tells us that there are five stages of grief and loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I would argue there are actually 6 stages, but that’s a piece of writing for another time.

Since baseball is America’s pastime, and America is super fucked up, everyone should understand why you are going through this. Don’t be afraid to tell people you’re going through the five stages (maybe keep the sixth stage to yourself). Remember to hold space for all sports fans that are greiving, and everyone can be in more than one stage at time.

Denial and isolation

If you are a baseball fan, you are already very familiar with this first stage. You’ve been in the stage since since a couple years after 2001.

Let me explain.

By the transitive property we’ve established that baseball is america and vice versa. Obviously 9/11 fucked up America big time, and gave us shitty institutions like the department of homeland security and the TSA.

Same with baseball.

In 2001, the Yankees still had prime Mariano Rivera, Mike Piazza was making ridiculous headlines, Barry Bonds was poppin, and we were still watching Ken Griffey Jr in his prime. Matterfact, A-Rod came through and secured The Bag, and we all loved to see it. Shoutout to A-rod, maybe the best finesser the game has ever seen.

The RedSox won a world series which was very exciting, but we all knew things weren’t quite the same as they were before. Something in had changed. Namely that for whatever reason, baseball became boring. But boring doesn’t really quite cover it.

“Jord, me and your cousins… we don’t care about baseball any more, remember? It’s boring, takes too long. We only watch football and basketball now”, paraphrased quote from my uncle.

That’s basically America in a nutshell. The shit we originally cared about, being consistent, hitting for average, getting the small stuff right–nobody wanted to hear about that any more. Athletics needed to be fast paced, hectic, and explosive. No room for the “working class game” which is best enjoyed being watched with a beer and nothing better to do.

Anger

Weird that we’re going to return to Barry Bonds here, but my guy Donnell has a great story about almost interviewing Barry for ESPN back in the day. Basically, it’s kinda hard to get with this, but Barry was like Michael Jordan with no Nike, but keep the earrings.

Barry I think knew he was getting the raw end of this whole baseball shit, and despite hitting for amazing power consistently, good defense in the outfield when he was younger, it seemed like he was always getting shown up for some other personality. When you could make the argument he was one of the best of all time, for some reason he was just left out in the cold.

Hmm.

People forget; this dude hit 500 homeruns AND stole 500 bases. What’s more, this MF beat the charges leveled against him by the US Government, which, although we may not always agree with the outcome, we always respect on this side. Think about that.

Barry Bonds beat fed charges. Considering federal prosecutor’s success rate… another example of his statistical exceptionalism. So what were we talking about?

Oh yeah. Anger. Well, yeah. Shit has been fucked up in America for a minute. Your boss can now text or email you on a sunday afternoon on some work shit, when previously, it was standard practice that you could just sit down and watch a ball game without being disrupted by anything more than your immediate family, or whatever.

The wheels sort of started coming off, and the fact that Barry Bonds still isn’t a hall of famer given his career; we can see the madness. They powers that be ARE mad, in the Cam’ron sense.

We’re mad because we can’t even enjoy the little things in life, like baseball. And Barry Bonds is mad too because he’s gotten absolutely no love, even if he might not want it anyway. There’s a lot to unpack here, but this is a solid start.

Bargaining

Man.

Bargaining cuts both ways here.

Like I mentioned earlier, shoutout to A-rod for his gigantic contract. Hundreds of millions. Phew.

But this also kinda of put to death the whole working-class myth of the game. He got bought out from the Texans by the hated Yankees, and the league allowed them to make that bargain.

Baseball fans were bargaining, and still now are bargaining. If only there was a timer on the pitch count. If only the game wasn’t corrupted by money, if only there wasn’t the steroids scandal, if only the feds hadn’t gotten involved. Etc.

Amazing really, to think that congress was investigating a BASEBALL scandal on the lead up to the Great Recession, where regular people were bargaining to hold on to pretty much anything. Like their house.

Continuing that baseball as America metaphor, things get really weird here. Baseball (America) juiced itself up, invested it’s time and attention into completely trivialized matters, and then woke up to… everything really kinda sucking.

Anyway.

Depression

Depression I think is where most of us as baseball fans, or one-time baseball fans, or frankly probably the MLB are right now.

Especially, incredibly now that the season is just… cancelled. There wasn’t even time to develop the narrative, which for once, was finally getting exciting with the cheating scandal and some pitcher saying he was gonna tell every batter what was coming, everyone talking a gang of shit, integrity being questioned, championships seemingly being robbed, and even LeBron James (the current ur-Sports figure) commenting.

There was drama, basically, but no.

We don’t even get to see that. It’s just gonna peter out into a footnote, unless the season starts again. Honestly, it’s pretty trash. We all know that there are things that baseball could do to get out of its depression, but frankly, they’re too depressed to do it.

Acceptance

Acceptance. That’s where the America/baseball metaphor is the most timely right now.

Through the cheating scandal, there’s an acceptance that baseball was getting more exciting (the hope of things improving, like in the country as well) but now we’re just kinda fucked and have to look at things the way they are.

We know that there’s no good real reason that things’ can’t improve. It’s just a matter of the people who hold the power allowing these things to happen.

Alternatives to following baseball:

In lieu of the game itself, here are some alternatives to offer.

  • watch paint dry
  • rewatch every single out of like 15 perfect games in ONE youtube video. it’s fucking amazing.
  • play Backyard Baseball, if you can find the CD for it.
  • Find another friend who’s been laid off, and throw the ball to each other while chewing bubble gum and/or chewing tobacco. Please sanitize the ball before doing so.
  • Play Pokemon Red or Blue. I don’t know why exactly I think this would work, but i feel like it has just the right amount of soothing boredom with excitement.
  • obsessively track your personal habits, with a spreadsheet, and make percentages out of it. Pretend your nate silver, with less new york times douchiness.
  • see if you can hit bottle caps with a broom handle. if successful, upload to youtube immediately.
  • check if they’re still playing cricket in india, and lose yourself trying to learn the intricasies of a new game.

Frankly, I’m just as upset as you all. And I just don’t know what to do. But you know what, maybe Mariner’s fans deserve this break. They’ve been suffering long enough.

Don’t be a statistic (if you can help it) Jordne