Baseball and me: A breakup story

Yankee_Stadium_2009

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.

7 responses to “Baseball and me: A breakup story

  1. Do you think any of this has to do with being a sportswriter for so many years?

    I find my coverage of sports has pulled the curtain back too far in some cases, made me not care as much as I did when I was a kid.

    Different topic: Do you, by chance, know a Delaware grad named Brian Smith? He’s in his early 30s and for most of this decade has done hockey play-by-play. He just took a job in PR with the Flyers.

    Enjoyed you pinch-hitting for Pearlman. Best of luck with this, too.

  2. baseball is like life/marriage : high tide / low tide : but we keep coming back

  3. michaeljlewis

    Rick,
    I think you’re right, covering sports has affected my love for sports a little; I’m actually kind of glad that I have never really covered, on a regular basis, the teams I’m most passionate about. I’d hate to stop rooting for the Jets, for example, after I found out all the players are a bunch of jerks or something.
    Also, I don’t know Brian Smith, he might have come to UD after me.
    Thanks.

  4. michaeljlewis

    Roger,
    You may be right, maybe my love of baseball will return someday. Right now, though, I’m not so sure.

  5. If you were in a legit fantasy league – that carries over rosters every year and gives you a sense of actual ownership with these players – you might feel a bit different. I’ll be the first to admit there are few things more dull than turing on ESPN and seeing another boring Cardinals-Cubs game. And that’s because I have neither a Cardinal or a Cub on my team!

    I see your points. Baseball has a serious image problem when it comes to the pace of the game. People expect constant action, and if they can’t get it with baseball, they’ll find something else. Basketball and Football have much more to offer in the “non-stop action” department.

    But to conclude it and reference the beginning of your post, I’ve never gone to a basketball game and bonded with my father or my son. Just doesn’t seem possible. That’s what baseball’s for.

    • michaeljlewis

      Mike,
      I never got into fantasy baseball after I joined a league at my last newspaper, and halfway through the season the league had to disband because the owners were fighting with each other too much.

      I totally agree about the father/son bonding thing; I look forward to one day taking my kid to a game. I think it was the Miami Herald’s Edwin Pope who had a great line about that; he took his son to his first game, and the kid asked, “Dad, where do we put the peanut shells.” And Pope smiled wide and said proudly, “On the ground, son.”

  6. Pingback: Baseball sucks me back in, a great film about the Great Gretzky, and Wilford Brimley raps (seriously) « Wide World of Stuff

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