Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"A Pastime In Eclipse"

Written after “Game Four” of the World Series.

Baseball’s postseason slunk into town like an unpaid bill.



“Don’t mind us. We’re just finishing out the games.”

“Game One” of the World Series, the crowning event of the year, premiered on a Wednesday, after a quick “look around” to make sure that that big bully, football, was nowhere in sight.

The once pre-eminent Crown Jewel in the sporting pantheon seems almost clandestine. Jews praying secretly in a basement.

“When’s the Series start?”

“Shhh. Wednesday night. Pass it on.”

And this after two earlier rounds – the Division Championships and the League Championships – where games came flying out like promotional t-shirts shot from pneumatic tubes.

Game! Game! Game! Game!

I’m not exaggerating here. The Division Championships featured four baseball games on the same day! Burying a 1-0 gem (The Cardinals beating Philadelphia), an unnoticed drop in a downpour of random scheduling.

Why the hurry? It seems part of a general sloppiness. Baseball has lost its mojo. It’s like they’re not even trying anymore.

What happened to “bunting”? Pleated half moons of red, white and blue festooning the balustrades. There’s no “bunting.” How come?

“I looked like the inauguration of William Howard Taft.”

It was celebratory!

“Game Four”, which I just watched? Okay. The pre-game for the Super Bowl is, like, six hours long. For “Game Four of the World Series?

Eleven minutes.


Because it was Sunday.

And what’s on Sunday?


And when there’s a conflict between them, baseball being football’s – what they call in prison – “bitch”, football calls all the shots.

BASEBALL: “Can we start our game now?”


BASEBALL: “But your game is over.”

FOOTBALL: “”We’re still got “Post-Game Wrap Up”, and then, we’re going into the locker room to hear the winning coach tell his team they played their hearts out.”

BASEBALL: “But it’s a regular season game. We’re the World Series!

FOOTBALL: “The World Series of Golf?”


FOOTBALL: “The World Series of Billiards?”


FOOTBALL: “The World Series of Darts?”

BASEBALL: “The World Series of Baseball!”

FOOTBALL: “Oh, yeah. My grandfather used to watch that. He’s dead now. And by the way? So’s baseball.”

Baseball has ignominiously thrown in the towel. They’re like England.

“We once ruled the world.”

“Yeah, not anymore.”

Baseball’s primary objective, which was once to thrill the world with the National League and the American League sending forth their respective champions to do battle for the ultimate trophy, now almost exclusively has as its goal finishing the season before November.

Hence – four games in one day. Which leads to some of the games being played at times when the sun’s shining directly into the outfielders’ eyes, and the shadows make a pitched ball virtually impossible to see.

Year after year, the “Summer Games’” determining contests are played under conditions more suitable for hockey. It’s crazy. This is baseball’s one chance to get people back, to regain its popularity by demonstrating what a singular and exquisite game it is. You would think they would do whatever they could to insure the best possible showcase.

Instead, they play under the most inclement conditions, in muscle-cramping cold, and, not infrequently, during pelting rainstorms. The ball is slick, the batter’s wiping raindrops from his eyes, and the waterlogged outfield is a knee injury, waiting to happen.

And still, the game goes on.


They can’t postpone it. It’s impossible. They have to be finished before November.

And what do you hear about these outrageous playing conditions? The standard rationalization:

“It’s the same for both teams.”

That’s true. If the ball field were totally covered in ice, there would be indeed the same playing conditions for both teams. But the ball field would still be totally covered in ice!

Which under ordinary circumstances, like, say, a meaningless mid-season game, would be


Well, not in the World Series. Where the most important games – both to the teams involved and to the game itself – are played under the worst possible conditions.

And nobody cares.

Because they’re all watching football.


Michael Charters said...

And what's happened to the 7th inning stretch and "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"? I mean, "America the Beautiful" is a lovely song but what's it got to do with baseball?

Zaraya said...

Dear Mr. Pomerantz; wait, you say baseball is still being played?