Baseball, Where Art Thou?
For the first time in about twenty-five years, I did not watch a single second of the World Series of 2005. For years, I have been watching less and less of them. While baseball is a commendable form of sport (unlike football, which is intrinsically violent and ugly, despite its egregious popularity—or perhaps because of it), putting baseball on television now essentially ruins the game. Advertisements crow in everywhere like a hungry fungus, even between batters. Digital adds are placed behind the batters and changed every inning (or more). The camera work cuts back and forth far too often, which makes one dizzy and disoriented (especially if one never watches television any other time). And the commercials—need one say anything here? Thus the medium cuts against and deface the ontological nature of baseball itself, which is slow, deliberate, and focused. One cannot even attend a major league game in the flesh without being beaten down and overwhelmed by the monstrous video screen in the outfield.
Besides these pollutions by the medium of television, the players themselves have been polluting themselves and the game by illicit drug use. The greats of days past—Ruth, DiMaggio, Mays, Aaron—did no such thing. They relied on pure talent and hard work. Moreover, most of today’s players jump from team to team in order to make increasingly more money—more money per game than most American will make a year. By and large, there is no loyalty to a city, a place, a tradition. Money-making is the only tradition recognized. The sense of Place is once again trumped by postmodern conditions, as Wendell Berry has taught us.
It has been said—and this may be contested—that America will be remembered for contributing three seminal realities to civilization: (1) the Constitution, (2) jazz, and (3) baseball. The original intention of the Constitution has nearly been abandoned in recent years by revolutionary judges who, as aspiring godlets, create law ex nihilo and ignore the original document. Jazz now constitutes about 4% the music market (and that might include the hollowed out, shabby, pseudo-jazz of Kenny G). And then there is baseball. Thank God baseball exists in other forms that what is televised. Yet given the cultural domination of television, what is viewed on the abominable tube is bound to affect the sensibilities of other baseball players as well—and their fans.
Let us now lament these terrible losses.