Baseball wasn’t there for me this season, in case you’re wondering what’s wrong with America

Will the Tribe be calling the shots in this post-season?

Will the Tribe be calling the shots in this post-season?

Yesterday, I saw by my MLB iPad app that it was the last day of the regular season, and that all the last games would be starting about 3 p.m.

So a little after 3, I decided to click around on the few TV channels I get via our HD antenna (I don’t see a whole lot of point in cable these days), with particular attention to those that might offer live sports — the CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox affiliates.

And I found… two football games, a golf tournament and something else that I don’t recall at the moment. No baseball. Again.

I’d had the exact same experience every other time I’d gotten that vague “I’d like to see a ballgame” feeling over the course of this season. As much as I dislike football, I think the thing that hurt was that there was usually one golf tournament showing. I at least understand why people might watch football, especially on an HD screen (to quote Joni Mitchell, “You want stimulation, nothing more; that’s what I think”). Golf, not so much. I mean, my parents like to watch golf, but they subscribe to all those cable sports channels, so why can’t golf be on one of those, so that on a given weekend afternoon, there can be one old-school broadcast channel showing us the national pasttime?

You’ll say, I could have watched baseball if I’d tried — say, if I’d shelled out $100 a month for all those cable channels. My reply is, I don’t want to watch anything that much.

And if you think I’m going to try to watch any sport, you’re misunderstanding my relationship with baseball. I’m not a fan, in the sense of following a team or being able to name the current players or anything (I used to know the Braves’ lineup, but the last one I could pick out of a lineup was probably Chipper Jones).

It’s like a zen thing with me. I like to stumble across baseball, not seek it out. I love the idea of baseball, which is why I love a sappy movie about it like “The Natural” or “Major League,” or a book like Halberstam’s The Summer of ’49.

I always have lot of things to do on weekends — family activities (which abound when you have five kids and five grandkids), yard work, adding ancestors to the family tree, digitizing family photos for posterity. But on most weekends there’s a point at which I’ve got a break in the schedule and don’t feel like staring at a screen or anything, when it would be nice to sit in front of something relaxing, something I can snooze in front of it I want to, but that will reward me with something satisfying to see during my wakeful periods.

Also… I just like knowing baseball is there for me, even if I don’t watch it. It’s reassuring, like knowing there’s a fire department. No, that’s not it. It’s more like having a friend that you neglect but you always know will be there for you. Like that.

And it saddens me that baseball wasn’t there for me even once this whole season.

I know TV will give me more opportunities during the post-season, and I’ll probably pick a team to care about and follow its ups and downs until October is behind us. Probably Cleveland this time.

But I’m still kind of down that all through the regular season, baseball wasn’t there for me…

9 thoughts on “Baseball wasn’t there for me this season, in case you’re wondering what’s wrong with America

    1. Kevin Dietrich

      I live north of Irmo and I can’t even pick up baseball on the radio. For whatever reason, Major League baseball doesn’t allow its games to be broadcast over the Internet, either. So, you’re pretty much out of luck if you can’t find a game on the television and don’t want to shell out money for a premium package.

      Baseball is in danger of following the path of boxing, which in the 1980s began switching away from network tv to pay-per-view for its bouts. Sure, it made more money, but it killed off any chance of drawing in most casual fans. The sport is a shell of what it used to be in terms of popularity.

  1. Doug Ross

    There were games on FOX 57 on Saturday’s in September, including the Red Sox clinching the AL East vs. the Astros. The World Series will also be on Fox starting on October 24. I pay for the MLB.TV package because it allows me to watch almost any game during the year. Works out to probably $2/game for me to watch the Red Sox.

    This was a great baseball season for me personally. I’ve been in a fantasy baseball league with a group of people from my first job in 1985 and this was the first year I won the league in 33 seasons.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Doug won the pennant! Awesome!

      I pay something like $20 a year for my MLB AT Bat app. I get play-by-play where you see a CGI man standing at the plate and you can see where every pitch went, and you get a text message about the outcome of the at-bat.

      It also offers video highlights, but they’re almost all home runs, and there’s a certain sameness to home runs…

      None of it is the same as watching a game in real time while half-dozing in a recliner. That’s an important element of summer, and I missed it entirely.

      Yeah, I could check listings and LOOK for games I might be able to see. But it seems to me that in a world that has its priorities straight, on an afternoon in the summer you ought to just be able to turn on the tube and find it on at least one of the broadcast channels.

      And the fact that I can’t — when, as a kid with only three channels to choose from, I could — makes me feel that America has lost its way.

      And I don’t think we can pin this one on Vietnam…

      1. Doug Ross

        If you let me adopt you, I’ll share my password with you next year. Up to five family members can do that. Not a bad deal when I have two sons who also use it. Just make sure you take out the trash every Sunday night.

  2. Claus2

    “but the last one I could pick out of a lineup was probably Chipper Jones).”

    Who retired in 2012.

  3. Richard

    Why aren’t you supporting your local Fireflies team? Or has that flash in a pan petered out?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You’re missing the point. I don’t want to have to drive across town and buy a ticket to see baseball, although I occasionally will. I just want it to BE there, on demand, for free, on weekend afternoons, whenever the mood strikes me.

      I feel like it’s my birthright as an American…

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