Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.
from Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic
Sung in the Year 1888
copiously and faithfully illustrated by Christopher Bing
Handprint Books, 2000 (Caldecott Honor)
Tonight is the first game of the World Series. It starts at 8:09 pm in Los Angeles, so those of us in the eastern time zone might consider an afternoon nap. (8:09 might be my local time, but if not, start time here is 11:09 pm). Anyway, The Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Huston Astros in the best of seven games. My Indians set a record this year, 22 wins in a row, and went to the playoffs. Even though they don’t get to play in the Series this year, they played well. I’ll bask in that record and last year’s almost triumph.
I used to really like baseball. I even went to a few games at the old Indian’s stadium with an old boyfriend. But that was then. Now the season stretches out almost to Thanksgiving. It used to be over by the time Indian Summer ended, mid-October in Northeast Ohio.
It’s a math problem. When the leagues started expanding in 1961, adding more teams in more cities, all the teams still had to play each other. Dividing the two leagues into divisions helped organize these contests, but a final expansion to 30 teams in 1998, and their realignment, has made for increasingly complicated scheduling. The season is 162 games long. It’s been that way since 1961. Teams play 76 contests within their division, 66 against non-division league teams and 20 interleague games. The schedule has stayed at 162 games, but days off figure into the equation, and so the season is longer.
Me, I still like to watch TV. That way I get all the talk about how the game is played. I can see close up all the wind-ups, the fly-pops, and where the second-baseman spits. And I can share my popcorn with my cat. My priorities have changed, clearly.
I’ve lost touch with who the players are or where they play. I’ve lost touch with the spirit of the game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I spend more time planting daffodil bulbs and watching for the Harvest Moon and raking leaves. Yes, I *do* like to rake leaves.
Tonight, my husband will put the game on TV. I’ll probably poke my head up from the novel I’m reading (The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman). I’ll catch a major play, maybe a grand slam or a heart-breaking strike out.
Then, later, I’ll look over to see that my husband has fallen asleep in an awkward position. I’ll wake him gently and catch the highlights on NPR in the morning. They really do a good job on the re-cap.