The caliber of play suffered and attendance declined year by year. Interest in college football was exploding, and there was this new game called basketball.
Better than anything else in our culture, it enables fathers and sons to speak on a level playing field while building up from within a personal history of shared experience – a group history – that may be tapped into at will in years to come.
Do we settle on a regional team because we can go to its ballpark and see its games on television? Or do we choose a team as our favorite because it has an especially appealing player, a Barry Bonds or an Ichiro?
In over 160 years of recorded baseball history, no team had ever won a championship this way.
And then came the nineties, when management, suddenly frightened that they had ceded control to the players, sought to restore baseball’s profitability by ‘running the game like a business.’
But the dream is never forgotten, only put aside and never out of reach: Where once the dream connected boys with the world of men, now it reconnects men with the spirit of boys.
My egotistical concern was less that I would fail to relate to my classmates than that they would know nothing of my uniquely tortured life’s course and, thus, me.
As the game enters its glorious final weeks, the chill of fall signals the reality of defeat for all but one team. The fields of play will turn brown and harden, the snow will fall, but in the heart of the fan sprouts a sprig of green.
For many in baseball September is a month of stark contrast with April, when everyone had dared to hope. If baseball is a lot like life, as pundits declare, it is because life is more about losing than winning.
But baseball bounced back in the next decade to reclaim its place as the national pastime: new heroes, spirited competition, and booming prosperity gave birth to dreams of expansion, both within the major leagues and around the world.