This is my baseball essay. I will now commence with the writing of my baseball essay. Baseball is a sport. Though it does not look like a sport at first glance. Like other sports, it involves human people, placed in particular positions on a field of grass arranged in a particular way. But in baseball, the players don’t play. They mostly stand around, moving a few feet at intervals of several minutes. If you are a human person who prefers to move as little as possible, baseball might be the sport for you.
I will now continue with the writing of my baseball essay. If you are a person who appreciates baseball who at the same time cherishes your health and well-being to an above-moderate degree, I cannot recommend that you keep reading. But you will anyway because when my baseball essay is complete, it will be very well written.
I remember that I did not move very much when I played baseball. I was often in the outfield. That is where Police Athletic League coaches preferred to put the team members who did not exhibit the apparent skills required for playing baseball. But even if I had those skills I imagine that I would still be standing around because standing around is what playing baseball entails. When I played baseball, the pants for my uniform were at least one size too big, so whether I was moving or not I had one hand wearing a mitt while the other hand was holding my waistband. I had a red mesh cap with the PAL shield on it that my dog at the time — a mostly adorable, occasionally ferocious German Shepherd-Labrador Retriever mix named Spunky — chewed to shreds. My number was zero. When my brothers played baseball my mom coached their team. She claimed that she was the first female baseball coach in town. When I mentioned this to classmates, they corrected me by saying that another mom had preceded her. I declined to verify either claim.
Growing up in a certain area, I’ve come to know many fans of the New York Yankees. I attended one Yankees game as a child with my dad, my brother nearest to me in age, and several other children from my town but with whom I did not attend school. Nothing happened. I take that back, it rained. Riding the train to New York City on the same day a Yankees game is scheduled is my least-favorite time to commute after rush hour. Yankees fans on the train are a lot like their players. They stand around. They take up limited space. They are deeply disappointed when space is limited further by people who are not obviously fans of the Yankees. It took me many years to associate with an avowed Yankees fan free of the unease of being pummeled for breathing air before they had gotten a chance to breathe it themselves.
Riding the train while a Mets game is scheduled is a far more pleasant. For one thing, Mets fans who are from the same place that I am from are far less numerous. Another thing about Mets fans is that they are extremely polite to the point of deference. No, they are subservient. They know acutely the absurdity of being who they are to the point that they internalize it. Mets fandom is an inextricable extension of their bodies, perhaps even ingrained on their souls. If I met a Mets fan on the 7 train, and I told him to get down on his hands and knees and lick the floor for my amusement, he would not refuse me without enduring far worse consequences. I would never do this, because I am kind, but I make sure Mets fans remember that I can. For one cannot respect Mets fans as one would any other human without themselves inviting other kinds of dominance.
You are reading my baseball essay. It is going very well.
I have never been to a Mets game, but I have been to more Orioles games than I can count. I take that back, I’ve been to three Orioles games. I went to one when I was young. Nothing happened. I went to another when I was less young. Nothing happened. Six years ago I watched one from a hotel balcony too far outside of Camden Yards for me to do more than deduce with some confidence that nothing happened. Orioles fandom is something altogether different from Yankees or Mets fandom. It is not so much a fandom as it is a complex, or a trauma. No one loves baseball more than an Orioles fan; as such, the sport is never running out of ways to disappoint them. The team always loses, even when the records mark it as a win. Each loss is etched into the cosmos as a payment for the installment plan that maintains the universal order and keeps morality from dissolving into the abyss. Still, baseball itself will never be good enough for the Orioles fan. Baseball is the lover who leaves their embrace at two in the morning without even so much as a note. The lover looks a lot like Babe Ruth. Did you know Babe Ruth is from Baltimore? You do if you know an Orioles fan. Unfortunately he moved to Boston to pursue other interests.
Occasionally I am told that there are teams who are not the Yankees, the Mets, or the Orioles. The baseball team I played on as a child was called “Philadelphia.” My uniform was red and grey, colors that people who associate openly with “Philadelphia” presumably like.
Regardless of one’s team allegiance, however, baseball fans are united in the belief that baseball is poetic. No baseball fan has, to my direct knowledge, ever said this explicitly; but they do not need to. Compare, if you will, the widening and slight watering of the eyes of a baseball spectator to the widening and watering of the eyes of someone reading about how Galway Kinnell once stayed up all night staring had his sleeping child or whatever, and I challenge you to tell me the difference. In fact, you are permitted to read books during a baseball game. You are safe, the baseball fan implies, from the brutal penalties of reading during a football game, where anyone caught is thrown onto the field, hogtied, and dragged from one end zone to the other and back by a chain attached to a running back’s waist. Baseball is sportsmanship embodied, which respects discipline, valor, and beauty, not unlike poetry. Football is the prose of sports: dense, clumsy, functional, and Spartan.
If you’ve made it this far into my baseball essay, you might suspect that the idea of Ty Cobb playing with sharpened cleats is very delightful to me.
I do not know what else to write in my baseball essay. Here are some random images presently in my head that are related to baseball.
- A Huffington Post headline that reads “Harvard Study: Baseball Desensitizes Empathy and Defensive Reflexes Faster and More Irreversibly Than Pornography.”
- A fire starting in the middle of Yankee Stadium for no apparent reason, which quickly engulfs the entire complex before a wind strengthens and carries its flames into the other boroughs — Staten Island included — and burns the entire city to rubble. In the future people will look from across the Hudson River at the rubble. One will ask, “What used to be there?” One will say, “New York.” The other will ask, “Have you been there?” The other will say, “No.” Still another will say, “Yeah.” The others will say, “Really?” The other will say, “Yeah.” One of the others will say, “For how long?” The other will say, “A few years.” One of the others will say, “What was it like?” The other will say, “Nothing happened.”
- The year is 2038. The sound of multiple chainsaws revving at the same time echo from the field of Shea Stadium.
Thus concludes my baseball essay. I hope that you liked it. But if you read it and it did not make you feel very good, please listen to this song.
If you have listened to that song but still feel bad, your next best option is to repress those feelings for the duration, and to remember that there might still be time to take up jai alai.