Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Baseball is only a metaphor for Baseball

It's easy to wax poetic about baseball (A little too easy...). Over the 141 years of organized, professional baseball, writers have found millions of metaphors in the National Pastime. Metaphors for war, metaphors for peace, metaphors for sex, Metaphors for American History (I took a class in college all about American history through baseball), metaphors for father/son relationships, metaphors for life, etc. The mysticism of the sport is so overwrought with "deeper-meaning" that some say we can "better see ourselves" in the playing of a game. And that's crap.

In my favorite baseball movie, "Mr. Baseball," Tom Selleck portrays washed up former star Jack Elliot who has to play in the Japanese leagues to both keep his career going and get his shit together (Look for Frank Thomas playing the role of the young phenom taking his job!). The movie is about personal redemption and a whole fish-out-of-water thing. In one of the pivotal scenes, Elliot is talking (drunk) to his manager about the nature of baseball and says "Baseball is grown men getting paid to play a game." Later he goes on to opine "Baseball is a game, and games are meant to be fun." Selleck says them each so matter-of-factly. The whole movie is matter-of fact; baseball is reality, not fantasy. I've always found something important from those two phrases. 1) Baseball is a business built on the frivolity of grown-ass men getting paid millions to dick around for 162 days a year, for my amusement (dance monkey, dance). 2) Under no circumstances should you take it too seriously.

It's for those reasons that I hate movies like "Field of Dreams" and portions of "Bull Durham." Particularly "Field of Dreams;" the game is espoused as a timeless driving force, dragging the country along through the dark times (James Earl Jones' soliloquy at the end makes me gag), and with the power to fix a destroyed father-son relationship and grant you a life-long wish. It's such a drawn-out boring pile of sentimentalist crap (Although the message of "if you build it, they will come" has some real-world applications). The people who enjoy that are the same people who go to Wrigley Field hoping it will "connect" them to their youth. It's sad really.

I love movies like "Mr. Baseball," "Little Big League," and "Major League" because there is that definite sense of frivolity. They understand that "Baseball is a game, and games are meant to be fun." When you pile crap like the weight of the world on its back, then baseball is just some esoteric ivory tower horse-shit. Baseball will not explain the meaning of life to you, and it's not a doorway to your past. It's a game, with a long a storied history. Anymore than that, and you just take the fun out of it.

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