Posted by: joha5 | July 5, 2010

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

I know that baseball is supposedly known as ‘America’s Pastime’ but I have never really known or understood where that came from and neither has any baseball fan I have asked.  In some ways I totally get the cultural significance of baseball in America and how it is a metaphor for progress, equality, and all that good stuff.  But I actually think it is called America’s pastime because of our affinity for sitting on our asses and getting drunk off of beer while gorging one’s self on unhealthy food.  

Yet in spite of all of this, the experience in and of itself is quite possibly one of the most pleasurable experiences you can have on a warm summer evening.  I attended the game last night between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets and had one of the most pleasant and awesome nights of this summer so far.  Personally, I don’t get any pleasure from watching baseball on the television at home.  It is too slow for me, too number oriented and statistical for me to care, and all just a little bit too samey.  I know that many will disagree – and I would completely understand if you do – but there is something about baseball on television that gets lost in translation.  The only way to watch a sport like baseball in my opinion is actually at the park itself.  

I can think of no better place to spend a summer evening...

 

Whether you are a baseball fanatic or you can’t even stand the sport, I don’t think I know of anybody that can genuinely say that they hate going to a baseball game.  There is always something at a baseball game for everybody – drinks, food, good company, good companionship, something to watch, music, and good weather – which is probably why they are so well attended.  When I am actually at the stadium I pay probably about as much attention to the game as I do on TV: not much.  I mean, I do watch and I get into it if it is close and all that good stuff but for me it is just the atmosphere that is so magical.  The smell of hot dogs and popcorn wafting through the stands, the feeling of an ice-cold beer refreshing you as you recline in your seat, and all of this while you enjoy the company of good friends. 

Maybe it has earned the moniker of ‘America’s Pastime’ not because of the food and the drinking and the laziness but rather because of the inclusiveness, the sense of community that it creates, and – as mentioned – that there is always something at a baseball game for everybody.  I may not be the biggest baseball fan and I may not understand why there are so many statistics and numbers in the game but I am a true fan of going to see a live baseball game and – if given the opportunity – I would suggest you go and try one out for yourself as well.

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Responses

  1. Hi Jon
    I think the oddest thing about baseball being called ‘America’s pastime’ is the fact that when they all play each other its called the World Series.
    Bill

    • Haha! It’s one of the many conundrums of American culture! I don’t really know how – or why – we get away with that paradox at all. Have you ever been to a baseball game over here then, Bill?! Next time you are in the States you need to go to one…I will force you and you will love it (even if you hate the sport…like me).

  2. It’s about time you wrote a good article!! Baseball is America’s Pastime for many reasons; one being that its true origins are from America in the mid 1800s (and the original rules, written by Alexander Cartwright). Journalists in New York coined it “America’s Pastime” in the late 1800s and it has continued ever since.

    Baseball was, is, and always will be America’s Favorite Pastime. For the reasons you’ve stated above, and other reasons, such as the actual stats!

    I love baseball dearly and will watch ANY game, although I love my Phillies!! Being at a game is amazing, watching it at home is amazing, but listening to a game on radio is phenomenal (so long as the play-by-play guys are good)!!

    Good article kid!!

    • Dave! Thanks so much for the short history of baseball. I must admit that I am not a huge baseball fan (it is a gift of passion that I have yet to receive from the baseball gods!) but I find the cultural and historical aspects of the sport absolutely fantastic. Its place in American culture is secure whether I prefer soccer or basketball or football more. Thanks for reading and thanks for the compliment. You are a star!

  3. Hi John
    I’ll certainly be going to a game in Detroit next summer (or maybe later this year) as my son-in-law is a big Tigers fan. I have watched a game on TV but I glazed over. However, I can watch cricket on TV or listen for 5 days to Test Match Special on the radio and be gripped throughout. A position which I’m sure would bewilder most Americans. Each to his own.
    Also, like you, I’m bracing myself for an unendurable four years without the World Cup, although we are consoled by the Euro tournament in 2012. Bring it on.
    Have fun.
    Bill

  4. Sorry. Hi Jon!


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