Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fun + Futility = Funtility.

And so, another fruitless season scrapes to an end. 

Even at a Mets Shrine I have to see Yankees fans. I am not seen in this picture, FYI. I took it. Stop conjecturing.
Tell you the truth, I hardly watched any games this year. After coming up just short in 2006, the Mets have been coming up shorter and shorter ever since. Historically bad collapses under Willie Randolph, fortunes spent for guys who were also getting Social Security checks, and so many seasons just sagging from one useless series to another. Phenom pitcher pops up (Hooray!) and suddenly needs Tommy John surgery (Waaaah!). Everyone seems to think he'll be back next year better than ever, as if he just had a wisdom tooth out. To me, operations where they flip tendons around just seem to be a little wee bit treacherous. The only guy I know of who ever came back physically improved from an injury was Col. Steve Austin.

Still, I have begun to wonder if we're putting too much weight on championships nowadays. In professional baseball, for decades the season just ended when it ended. Baseball games were an outing for a day; there was no sense of a campaign, let alone a war. The 1903 World Series was considered an eight-game voluntary exhibition, rather like spring training games now but with less purpose. The Giants wouldn't even bother playing in 1904, so there was no World Series. (That would not happen again until a massive outbreak of major league greed ruined the 1994 season. Two World Wars and a Great Depression could not stop baseball, but greed did. There's a lesson there, I suppose.) Prior to the modern era, postseason was even less meaningful, although they were still fighting over money. And in the 1889 season, interestingly, the World Series was agreed to continue until one team one six games---it lasted nine, but it could have gone 13. Things were done year by year.

I guess I'm saying that we take this stuff too seriously nowadays. It's impossible for most of us to go enjoy a game in September when the team has already been eliminated from the playoffs and looks like it is going nowhere next season either. Here I'm feeling sorry for myself, and the Pirates (who made it in again this year) had twenty consecutive seasons of losing baseball. The Royals are back in the playoffs this year for the first time since winning the World Series in 1985! If all their fans acted like many of us fans, these would be dead franchises by now.

Baseball gets a lot of abuse for being a pastoral, old-fashioned game. I'm not going to argue its superiority to other sports here. I'm a terrible, disloyal fan, whose depth of wisdom has not prevented me from becoming a fair-weather friend. But there's a reason it's played all over the world, and has endured for so many decades in America. I am not that reason.

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