Friday, September 30, 2005

You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on baby

If you build it, they will come.

Boston fans had the real field of dreams last fall when a team of self-proclaimed "idiots" broke the curse of the Bambino and won the franchise's first World Series in 86 years. Hollywood couldn't have written it any better than the real deal. (Though coincidentally they tried: the Farrelley brothers film "Fever Pitch actually re-filmed the movie's ending after the Red Sox won the ALCS over the Yankees.)

The back story: the oldest and deepest rivalry in baseball, an eighty-six year long curse, and a charismatic team of underdogs that captured the heart of every baseball fan in America. Down three games in a best of seven series, they did what no team in the history of the game has ever done in post-season play; come back and win four straight. I would bet that even people who don’t follow the game saw the image of Curt Schilling on the mound, with temporary stitches in his severed Achilles tendon, the blood seeping through his sock. Schilling became a hero of mythical proportions that night. The World Series sweep against the Cardinals proved almost an anti-climactic afterthought.

I am reminded of all this as I sit here watching a season of 162 games come down to the last three. The battle for a post-season berth is again the stuff dreams are made of. It also reminded me of a conversation I had with my little sister. She said "You ought to write about baseball. Why is baseball so revered in America, and considered our national pastime?"

She's right. There is something about baseball that epitomizes Americana. Maybe because of how far back its roots go. Baseball is intertwined with American history. Baseball grew up with us as a nation. It scandalized, unionized, and expanded. It dealt with segregation and sexism. Yet we still cling to the romanticism and myth that endure within images of sandlot stadiums and overgrown boys trying to hit a horsehide ball over a fence and running home. Baseball can be a metaphor for life, for no matter how strong your pitching is, you're only as good as your defense, and rarely does someone get all the way home on their own.

There's something else though. There's the drama, the duel. Baseball doesn't have the frenetic pace of hockey or basketball, or the physical contact that is football, it's different. It's like comparing Hitchcock to Wes Craven. Watching a baseball game can be like watching a good thriller. Just when you think you know what's going to happen, you get a curve ball, and Ortiz hits it out of the park for a walk off win. It's not just a battle of might and skill but of wits and strategy. And nowhere is this more evident than the American League East in the last week of September.

Hollywood, I'm ready whenever you want me. LOL

Go Sox!

Love, G. – former Yankee fan.

Post script:
There is this wonderful exhibit produced by the Baseball Hall Of Fame that will be touring the country now through Jan 2006 called "Baseball As America". Check out the link for more information.

I think there are only three things that America will be known for 2,000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music and baseball. They're the three most beautifully designed things this culture has ever produced.
— Gerald Early


Anonymous said...

Any one else interested, Ken Burns did a fantastic donumentary on the history of baseball.


Giovanna said...

I want that on DVD. I want the New York series too. Not that I have time to watch them.