By Mark Carpenter –
“The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh,people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
I shared a post on Facebook last week about the new collective bargaining agreement in major league baseball and how it changed the idea that the All-Star Game would determine home-field advantage in the World Series. The first response that I received was from an esteemed local citizen and it consisted of two words, “Nobody cares.” Well Judge, I beg to differ. There are plenty of people who care.
Tell that to the 19-year old boy who has lived and breathed baseball since he was four, and now misses the opportunity to be out there on the field playing the game that he loves. To the boy that lives and dies with the fate of his favorite team and texts his Dad often just to talk about what is going on in the world of baseball. Go ahead, tell him that nobody cares.
Tell it to the little 6-year old boy who stood behind me in line last weekend at Redsfest, giddy with the thought that in a few minutes he was going to be face-to-face with his favorite Cincinnati Red. Tell that to the thousands of fans who packed the Convention Center last weekend, celebrating the game of baseball, even though their team lost nearly 100 games last season. Tell them that nobody cares.
Tell that to the millions of people who just last month filled the streets of Chicago to celebrate something their city hadn’t seen in 108 years. Tell that to the long-suffering Cubs and Indians fans who saw their teams fighting in out in a very exciting World Series that went to extra innings in a seventh game. If that doesn’t get you excited about baseball, then perhaps you need a big old slice of apple pie. If he was still around, tell Ernie Banks that nobody cares about baseball and he would tell you this: “”It’s just life. When I think about baseball, it’s just life. It’s really the way life is. It requires a lot of mental capacity to be involved in it. It creates a lot of joy for people and memories for people who follow it. It’s a family. You like it because it’s a family. You started with it and know all these people — it’s family, it’s friends, it’s fun, it’s a beautiful game. All in all, baseball is amazing. I wish everybody could play it for at least two years. I wish everybody-men and women.”
Nobody cares about baseball? Tell that to the fans of baseball who this week will be following every move at the annual winter meetings, waiting to see if their favorite teams pull the trigger on a trade that could change their fortunes in 2017. Tell it to the millions who will be all over Twitter and Facebook when it happens.
Tell it to the millions of kids across America who will be out on the diamond next summer, playing Knothole baseball, going home with a dirty uniform and a scoop of ice cream. Tell it to all the Baseball Moms (and Dads), who will spend countless hours and miles on the road just to see their favorite players play, their kids. Tell that to the Grandmas and Grandpas who pull up their chairs on hot and humid days, throw on a hat to shield the sun, and cheer on their grandchildren, while all the time remembering their youth. Baseball takes you back.
There are those that claim that baseball has become long and boring, but I prefer to use the word “relaxing.” Sitting at the ball park on a summer afternoon with nothing else to do but watch a game that is deservedly known as the American pastime, not bad at all.
I could go on and on, but I don’t need to convince myself to care about baseball. The fact that I am writing about baseball when it is about 30 degrees outside is pretty good proof. If you have never bonded with your son over the game of baseball, then I suppose a person might not care. But I have and I always will, and I for one care.