The World Series

While I love the game of baseball, I sadly, with a deep feeling of loss, stopped watching it many years ago because, as with so much else in our “culture,” the game, whether on TV or at the stadium, had become unbearably vulgar and offensive and an assault on the senses, as I’ve explained here.

However, I watched the fifth game of the World Series Monday night, and it was terrific. It brought back to me how great baseball is. I meant to write about it but didn’t have a chance. Here are just a few of the things I meant to say.

First, a practical suggestion that enhanced my enjoyment of the game. Joe Buck, the main announcer on Fox, is the worst sports announcer I’ve ever heard, yammering ceaselessly in his unpleasantly loud and unmodulated voice about all kinds of extraneous and incomprehensible matters, so that the actual game happening on the field almost seemed an afterthought. Watching the game with a friend, by the seventh inning I had had it and was ready to turn the game off. Then I had the idea of turning off the volume and watching the game sans announcer. It was great. We got enough information on the balls, strikes, and outs from the screen, and when something big happened we would turn the volume back on.

Baseball fans, you don’t need to subject yourself to the announcer’s verbal onslaught. Re-assert control over your TV set. It’s like watching a game at the stadium, when the only information you get is the balls, strikes, and outs posted on a billboard, and the rest is up to you.

Another thing. As we were riding on a city bus at about 8 P.m., and knowing nothing about the Series except that the Yankees were up three games to one, and that everyone said the Phillies were demoralized and would lose, I suddenly said, with absolute certainly, “The Phillies are going to win tonight.” And when we got to a TV and turned the game on, which was during the third inning, the first thing I saw was the Phillies score three runs in quick succession and put the Yankees five runs behind.

Also, I couldn’t believe that the Phillies manager didn’t take out pitcher Cliff Lee in the seventh inning when he had allowed two men on base and obviously no longer had his stuff. The manager went out to the mound to talk to him, and unaccountably left him in the game, and immediately Lee allowed a further hit (a double by Rodriguez?) that tightened up the game and turned it into a contest again, which should not have happened.

Also, the last inning, starting with the Phillies three runs ahead, with the Phillies reliever Mattson seeming to have no control and throwing lots of balls, and then regaining it, and getting Yankee batters to swing and miss at very low pitches, or ground into a double play, as Derek Jeeter did with two men on base and no outs, was very exciting and satisfying.

There is nothing like baseball, the emotional drama of it, the ebb and flow.

I don’t care who wins the Series, but I’d like the Phillies to win tonight so that it goes to a seventh game.

- end of initial entry -

Terry Morris writes:

I realize that this is not the intent of your entry, but your first sentences got me to thinking—“when exactly was it that I finally gave up on professional football?” Memory serves up the incident of Micheal Irivin’s being charged with cocaine possession in 1996. The charges didn’t offend me (innocent until proven guilty, right?) as much as his appearance in court. I watched that whole episode and was absolutely disgusted by it. And I think that was the point at which I knew that me and the NFL would have to part ways forever.

Chuck Ross writes:

I’m not sure which league you’ve been watching all these years. Your first post about being disgusted with the state of baseball didn’t indicate when this break started and/or happened. Either way, it seems you were once a fan of the game. There seems to be a cognitive dissonance if you’re recently disenchanted with it for some of the reasons you laid out 5 years ago. That, or you just recently saw the game differently than you had when you were younger.

Baseball has long had its muckrakers and thugs. Ty Cobb was a horrible person on and off the field. Babe Ruth was a slob. He was a womanizer and a glutton. Mickey Mantle—arguably the most pedestalized ballplayer of all time—was an alcoholic of less-than-ideal character. The stories go on forever. The benefit those guys had was less media scrutiny and a still naive infatuation with the game. The attitude of some players today annoy me, but there are players (and always have been) like Chase Utley who project a good image of the game.

LA replies:

More like the ’90s. The game became unwatchable. I was never a fan per se. But when I got into it, for example when there was a particular team I liked, I would get into it. But except when I was a kid I’ve never been a person who regularly follows sports.

Also, I’m not talking about the off-field lives of the players. I’m talking about the game as you see it on TV or at a stadium.

Also, now that I’ve seen the sixth World Series Game tonight, I see more clearly that the things that are really offensive are still there: the unending, oppressively extreme close-ups of the pitchers’ unshaved faces, the constant spitting by apparently everyone in the game. These things make the game disgusting to watch. At the same time, some things are not as bad as they were some years ago. On these two teams, for example, you did not see the extreme hugeness and fatness which combined with the tight uniforms was gross to see. Maybe the cracking down on steroids has had the result of ending that oversized quality that had been so common.

As for being at the stadium, when they began playing rock music all through the game, and even during the innings, that ruined it.

Our whole culture has gotten extremely coarse and ugly, and sports has been at the forefront of that.

Alan M. writes:

You should have turned on a good AM radio station covering the game. To me, the best baseball announcers are on radio because they have to be good to make up for the visuals—and it immediately brings back long evening drives on summer vacation with my dad. We would combine some of his business with little family vacations throughout the midwest. A summer evening listening to baseball is part of the definition of the American experience in my mind.

Tonight on the way to the airport I heard part of an interview by Hugh Hewitt of Mark Frost, author of “Game Six.” It seems to tell the story of America and baseball through the magical game 6 of the 1975 world series. It sounds like a good read.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 04, 2009 08:24 PM | Send

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