Apr 022003
Authors: Paul Franco

Opening Day marks the beginning of the most wonderful time of the year. Baseball season is finally upon us, all six months of it. Despite what all the pundits might say, baseball is still America’s pasttime. Our generation may prefer the fast-paced, violence-filled thrill ride that is American football, or the ball-dribbling, behind-the-back pass filled flashiness of basketball over the action of baseball, but that’s just because they’re idiots.

Did I just say something I shouldn’t have, and did I do so in a public forum that the peers of my generation regularly read? Have I dug myself a hole out of which I cannot get out? OK, so perhaps I was hasty in declaring my generation idiots for liking football and basketball over baseball; maybe they’re only dumbasses.

As I don’t want to lose any more of my readership (however slight that may be!) some of whom may believe baseball is an artifact from the past, more suited for being relegated to a mere page or so in the history of sports than for actually being watched, I will refrain from referring to them as stupid-heads, dumb-heads, s***-heads or any other such adjective. Instead we should analyze this trend and leave the name-calling to those people who can come up with better insults than those involving variations on “stupid-head”.

Perhaps this shift in the sports fandom from baseball to football and basketball is part of an overall trend in the world of entertainment that has been developing over the past few years. In movies in the past ten years, while we have seen a marked increase in the amount of independent films, we have also seen an incredible amount of movies about natural disasters, teens getting slashed or laid or getting caught masturbating or all of these rolled into one, martial art flicks with people flying through the air, and action thrillers.

In music, fluff has prevailed on both the pop charts and the modern rock charts. For a while, every male in the world was a member of a boy band (most of us are now part of the ever-expanding list of former members of Menudo) and we couldn’t get away from a new jail-bait sensation rocking our collective worlds with her exposed abs and suspect singing ability. Now the manufacturing of pop stars is visible (American Idol, Making the Band) and while there has been an increase in actual bands, most of these bands still play fluff.

Football has all the makings of the big-budget Hollywood action thrillers. It has hulking men hitting the crap out of each other, gaudy musical numbers at halftime (thrillers have musical numbers, don’t they? Well, they will now since Chicago has gotten so big!) and gorgeous women on the sideline that are there just for eye candy. Basketball is like the music industry, all fluff: every player has tattoos but probably doesn’t know what they mean, they pass behind the back and throw alley-oops but can’t throw a regular chest pass, and the teams people love the most score a lot but don’t play defense; in short, it’s all style and no fundamentals.

Baseball, on the other hand, goes against the grain; it represents the indie-rock and foreign film section of sports. It’s slow-paced much as a good foreign film might be, it’s oftentimes, no-frills approach to the playing of the game is like a good lo-fi independent album recorded in a basement. It’s most avid fans are like the followers of a great cult film, or little heard underground album in that they know everything about the film, album, or game from the most menial ERA at Coors Field stat to the numbers of home runs hit by their favorite player.

Baseball fans are the art-house segment of the sport-viewing public, whereas those people who like football and basketball are just commoners with a taste for explosions and scantily-clad men and women. The taste of these fans is unrefined, whereas the baseball fan has sophisticated tastes and enjoys the little, very special things in life.

Obviously these comparisons don’t hold. Not every basketball fan goes crazy for B2K, not every football fan is going to see The Core, and not every baseball fan has seen and enjoyed Fellini’s 8 1/2. The truth is a great deal of our generation just doesn’t like a sport that is slow-paced; it’s boring to watch, they contend, and they just don’t care about all the little statistics involved in baseball.

What does this say about our generation? Perhaps that our conception of entertainment has changed such that we need constant action for something to be entertaining. In sports, as is the case with film and music, subtlety does not normally put asses in the seats. The accusations of elitism can come flying in and certainly they are deserved. But, I won’t be listening because I’ll hopefully be at the game in the outfield bleachers with the warm sun on my back and a mouthful of sunflower seeds watching the greatest game on earth.

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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