I buy into the theory that a person is only interested in the sports they cared about when they hit puberty at about 90%. I’ve met and argued with sports fans from all over the place in my life and can’t recall ever talking to someone who worshipped Michael Jordan as much as they hated hockey in, say, 1998. Although it’s certainly possible it wouldn’t make any sense for that person to now turn their back on the NBA and start rooting for the Detroit Red Wings.
The reason I rated my acceptance at only 90% is because I still am determined to give a damn about baseball. I didn’t follow it when I was younger and couldn’t have hated a sport more than I did baseball up until a few years ago. To an outsider, America’s favorite past time can be incredibly boring. I didn’t get the allure and it wasn’t violent enough, although I’m sure I would’ve loved it if the runner could bring the bat around the bases with him. Here’s first ballot Hall of Famer George Brett talking about…well, just watch.
Now, I’m trying to buy in. I can see why people like it even if I can’t bring myself to watch more than a few innings. It’s the strategy, lingo, and personalities about baseball that are attracting me to the sport not the action on the field. I like the idea of spending a summer afternoon in a ballpark with a dip of Skoal in my mouth talking to old baseball experts, even if I have trouble picturing myself ever actually doing that.
The controversial Ball Four is coming up on my reading list and, unlike traditionalists, I loved hearing about how last season’s Red Sox imploded partly because they were drinking during games. I’m not a lifelong fan and used to think that having no team allegiance was the reason I couldn’t get into baseball. Actually, it’s an advantage. I’m able to jump on and off bandwagons as well as root for the best story. The more gossip, the better. I mean, seriously, a guy really pitched a no-hitter on LSD.
Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary is streaming on Netflix and is one of my current obsessions. I love hearing about Ty Cobb and the Black Sox scandal and that love is slowly translating into a curiosity about today’s players. Even if Joe DiMaggio never would’ve tolerated a pansy like A-Rod in Yankee pinstripes, or maybe because of it, I’m starting to root for that 10%.
Speaking of pinstripes, here’s Wade Boggs lying through his teeth: