They used to chew tobacco on the baseball field. Now tobacco is taboo. Too bad.
For the first time since childhood, I did not see a single Major League playoff or World Series game. Today the sadness of that strikes me. I seem to have lost interest in the national pastime. I am even sadder that the national pastime is no longer the national pastime. The leisurely pace of a baseball game, its leisure instantly shattered by the crack of the bat or the catcher’s throw down to second base, seems to have been eclipsed by football and mixed martial arts. Though I enjoy both the others, I cannot declare that this is an improvement.
The fans enjoyed seeing their Red Sox win the World Series right there in Fenway Park. They have waited a long time to see this at home field. I congratulate the team and their fans though I did not root for them. But rooting for the Cardinals wasn’t much good either. I was so uninterested that I never even checked to when when a game was on.
All I can say about it is thanks to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens for finishing off what Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa started. Though they are not the only guilty parties, their faces and their names are the ones that come to mind on every thought of modern baseball with the admirable exceptions of the voodoo face of Andy Pettit and the voodoo arm of Mariano Rivera. If those two were ever involved in steroidal scandal, it escaped my attention. If so, please let me keep my illusion.
I suppose baseball will never be what it once was. We are too used to instant gratification which baseball fails to deliver as often as its competitors. For the modern world, baseball is just too slow. The spaces between the action are too long. But never does a bad hot dog taste better than at a baseball game.
I suppose I really started losing interest in baseball when the players substituted chewing gum for chewing tobacco. I loved seeing a pitcher on the mound with the bases empty as he went through his full wind up with a stream of Beech-Nut tracing down his chin. I loved seeing the catcher have to raise his mask to spit the brown juice on the ground near the feet of the batter approaching the batter’s box. Because of that, I can only make this connection: about the time major league chewing tobacco was in visible decline, major league steroids were visibly on the rise. The steroids were likely always hovering below the surface, less obvious than the tobacco juice spat upon the ground in front of the camera.
The joy and peace of Camelot was destroyed when King Arthur’s evil son/nephew Mordred finally said out loud what everyone already knew. If Roger Clemens had quietly preferred the honest vice of Beech-Nut maybe my Camelot would not have disappeared.
Maybe I should just get on out to the ball park when the season opens next year and have myself a hot dog.