Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Rise and Fall of the Major League Empire

I used to be absolutely absorbed with baseball. Most of my life. It was the one sport I played, the one I understood inside and out, the one that I loved. But over the years, it became more and more difficult to find anyone who could talk to me about it without passing out from boredom. 

I loved stats and commentators and listening to the games on the radio. I loved going to the games, and following the players, and really getting to know their styles. I loved the color, the history, the fields, the fans. The traditions. The all-time greats, and the Bill Buckners.

But everyone around me was playing fucking soccer.

When I was in college, I had one friend that was a die-hard Cubs fan. He and I would talk endlessly about our Cubbies' prospects. We shared a subscription to the MLB live online feed, and we would shamelessly watch the games on our computers during class. 

The year I graduated, the Cubs almost went all the way.

For the next couple of years, it was almost like a different team. They won. They made it to the wild card! They... started losing again. 

And then I moved to Texas, where the Cowboys are everything, and no one cares about the Rangers. Two of my neighbors played on the team, and I never even went to a game. Because it was all Cowboys, all the time. So I transitioned baseball to the number two spot in my heart, and let football, which was always a close second, take over the whole thing.

I can't say I regret it. I love baseball, but you can't capture that conviviality outside of the ballpark. I don't get the radio broadcasts here. There's no team for hundreds of miles. I can watch the games on TV, but there's not a soul that will watch with me.

I still follow the standings, the box scores, the general ebb and flow. And when I'm in a baseball town during the season, I am at the game, drinking beer, slathering on sunscreen, yelling my lungs out, getting to know my bleacher buddies. It might just be geography. Or the lack of that one other person who understands the need to know all of the things about the game in general and the team in particular. It might be the way things are, now. 

All I know is, thank God for football, or I'd have to learn to talk to people or something.

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