Debasedball


" … no further injections needed or wanted until Spring."

Post-season Major League Baseball offers a final opportunity to shed the seasonal obsession before the playing ends. Without it, a fan might face a cold turkey withdrawal from a dependency not yet overcome. After, a fog of distain remains, a gratitude for evenings returned, a deep appreciation for the absence of a long-lingering obligation. Fans seem superstitious folk, ones who firmly believe that the simple act of listening in to the proceedings assists the beloved home team. They can't hardly stand to miss a single outing, they hold their deluded responsibility so dear. By the end of the regular season, a definite parting begins. The home team hasn't made the playoffs again, in spite of the fan's unflagging long-distance support, and no team making the playoffs seems nearly as dear. The fan makes it clear to anyone within hearing distance that all joy has already left Mudville, though they'll consent to dabbling in a likely mediocre witnessing of the remainders, but only for old time tradition's sake.

The playoffs bring fresh underdogs needing someone to root for them, and the fan eventually complies, choosing a least likely but somehow most lovable from each league's roster.
He follows semi-obsessively, delighted when the big dogs take a whipping and only slightly saddened when their favorite does. If one of those unlikely contenders win their league's pennant, the stage seems properly set not so much for celebration, but for at least an orderly ending to the by then overlong season. Neither lineup seems familiar yet, though a favorite player has been identified and he steps into partially fill the void the home team left when they failed to make the playoffs again. The fan listens in to the team's hometown radio broadcasts to vicariously share the otherwise inaccessible sensation of a home team playing in the World Series. The ardor transfers easily enough.

The opposing team seems like evil incarnate. Whatever strategy they employ, it seems to the fan to reek of thinly-veiled impropriety. Their third baseman is a known dirty player, their pitchers—the whole bullpen—somehow unprincipled, their manager, a terrorist at heart. The freshly adopted home team seems to exude everything that's good and worthy. They might not have the largest budget in the bigs, but they seem to make up the financial deficit with heart. They seem to wear their hearts on their sleeves, not so much competing as attempting to out-shine their opponents. An early win or two simply reinforces what the transplanted fan already knew: God's on our side.

Before the seventh game, though, a game arrives that finally shakes even the most entranced transplanted fan. The game will prove more stalemate than competition, each side somehow evenly matched regardless of their advantages, shortcomings, or deep down benevolence. What might have been innocent play becomes a game of simple attrition with neither side gaining more than a half-inning's advantage over the other. So many players cycle through their turns at bat in the same eventually predictable order than the later innings become more deja vu than present experience. The commentators hardly break the monotony, endlessly replaying recent recaps until nobody knows for certain what's going on out there on the field. Plays replayed, pitchers recycled through, innings piling up like so much rejected firewood. Hardly smoke, certainly no fire.

The "game" degrades into a professional T-ball game with each hitter swinging for the fence. Only each batter's parents hold out any esteem for any of them. The pitchers on both side seem simply mechanical, steely-eyed, endlessly repetitive, unfeeling. The fan can sense the boredom in their affect as they go through their narrow repetitive motions day-dreaming about their next Tommy John surgery. I find myself leaving the room between pitches as if my presence couldn't matter less. No team depends upon my fandom then. I swear that authorities could employ the video of this game in aversion therapy. Slip any die hard fan a video of this game along with a taste of placenta and they might never care to watch another baseball game again and also lose their taste for Cracker Jack®. By the time the series ends, the exhausted/disgusted fan needs six months off. What might have been a tragic withdrawal seems a godsend by then, all desire for America's pastime past for the longest time, no further injections needed or wanted until Spring.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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