It’s a little sad, really, because I’ve been in denial for so long.
Field of Dreams is my favorite movie of all-time, and Bull Durham is not far behind. I can still remember getting my first real bat, autographed by Chris Speier (not exactly a legend, I know) and the thrill I felt wearing my George Brett autographed glove to Little League practice (I played rightfield. LOT of free time on your hands, out there in right).
I’ve been a Yankees fan since birth, had a wall of my bedroom devoted to Don Mattingly, and the Bombers’ 1996 World Series title was probably my second-most meaningful sports game memory (behind the 1994 Stanley Cup win by the New York Rangers).
But over the last few years, I’ve stopped caring about baseball. It’s not really for the usual reasons: the steroid thing bothers me, but that’s not it. The disgusting escalation of salaries bothers me, but that’s not entirely it, either. Watching the Yankees spend and spend so much more than other teams was pretty gross, too, and it became harder and harder to defend them over the years.
And definitely the reckless wasting of public money on a new stadium that makes the Taj Mahal look like a studio apartment in Queens made me angry.
The glacially slow pace of games has turned off a lot of people in my generation, and the idiots running the sport haven’t helped by ending World Series games after midnight
But really, none of those things individually turned me off, to where now I watch maybe 1-2 games in the regular season. It’s probably a collection of all those reasons.
Over the last few years, as hockey, the NFL and college basketball became way more important to me than baseball, I made excuses to myself, trying to maintain that I was still the guy who could argue passionately that Mattingly should’ve won the batting title in ’86, and that the 1991 World Series was the best ever played.
But each April rolls around now, and I find I don’t care. Albert Pujols is amazing? Great. The Mets are struggling again? Meh. Even the Yankees’ successes don’t really get me jazzed anymore.
College basketball consumes me until early April, then the NHL playoffs become my ritual viewing until June. By that time, I’ve missed half the baseball season. It just feels strange, to not care about a sport that used to mean so much to me.
I’ll still probably watch the playoffs, because the drama and tension of an October game is pretty special. And if someone called up tomorrow and offered me tickets to a big-league game, I’d still take ’em. (Although the closest stadium to where I live now in Florida is Tropicana Field, which is not so much a ballpark as a rejected Jetsons set piece.)
I’m not a baseball fan anymore. There, I said it. The 12 steps have begun.
Now if I can just learn to forgive Pedro Martinez … nah, not there yet.