Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Joy Of Watching Baseball … What Happened?

In the DVR age, there’s a rule of thumb: Be cautious when looking at tickers like ESPN’s bottom line. If you’re recording a game – keeping yourself in the past in a way – you don’t want to transport yourself ahead to the future and ruin the surprise.

As far as Major League Baseball is concerned, I’ve been on pause for the last decade. So when I flipped on Sportscenter the other night it wasn’t a huge surprise at first when I saw this flash across the bottom line: MLB: Ibanez blasts 2 HRs as SEA routs NYY.

It was at this very instant I realized I am nothing more than the most casual of baseball fans nowadays.

I used to consider myself a baseball aficionado. Back in the day, after a high school baseball game, we’d all gather around and shoot pool while watching Harold Reynolds and Peter Gammons break down the big leaguers as ESPN replayed Baseball Tonight over and over. Even now, Web Gems is to me the greatest 60 seconds in all of television.

But that’s about all the attention span I have for the MLB anymore. Ask me what’s going on in The Show and I don’t have a clue.

Raul Ibanez is going bomb twice for the Mariners against the Yankees? It’s gotta be 2005, right? The master of the Grand Slam can’t be breaking out the rye bread against the evil empire in 2013 … there’s just no way. He’s gotta be in his 40s by now. (Google check: He turns 41 on June 2.)

But sure enough, that was the truth. It happened on May 15, 2013.

That’s a day that will live on forever in baseball lore for me. It’s the day I realized I just don’t care that much.
Sure, each year my friend Bear and I discuss how we “need” to take a trip up to Seattle to watch the Mariners.

We even look at a few dates. This year we talked about how easy it would be to hop on the BoltBus and get there lickety split.

But we’ve talked about this before. Save for a game against … the Tigers as part of a friend’s bachelor party a few years ago, attending a Mariner game just isn’t a priority the way it used to be. Going to a Hillsboro Hops game is far more likely to happen. At least that way I don’t have to pretend to know the names of the players on the field.

As it sits now, I could name more players from the 1992 Atlanta Braves than I could for the Seattle Mariners.
Baseball has taken a backseat for me these last several years. NFL, college football, NBA, college basketball, even track and field. These have all vaulted past MLB in vying for what little attention span there is left for me when I’m at home sitting in front of a TV.

It’s too bad.

On the occasion I’m looking at a newspaper that still prints box scores for all the teams or – better yet – posts the league leaders, I’m fascinated by it. I pore over those numbers like a financial advisor does a stock report.

These numbers have meaning in a way Internet stats like batting average on balls in play don’t. The tried and true methodology of measuring a Major Leaguers production still grabs my interest.

Sadly, the way they produce those numbers has fallen on blind eyes for me. Maybe someday I’ll figure out a way to rewind the DVR so my mind can travel back to the way it felt the first time Raul Ibanez was blasting four-baggers for the Mariners against the Bronx Bombers.

Kyle Boggs is on Twitter. Follow him at @KyleKBoggs
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