We are fans because the game also appeals to our local pride, our pleasure in thinking of ourselves as, yes, Americans but nonetheless different from residents of other towns, other states, other regions.
More fundamentally, it is a dream that does not die with the onset of manhood: the dream is to play endlessly, past the time when you are called home for dinner, past the time of doing chores, past the time when your body betrays you past time itself.
This was nostalgia in the literal Greek sense: the pain of not being able to return to one’s home and family.
Baseball presents a living heritage, a game poised between the powerful undertow of seasons past and the hope of next day, next week, next year.
In response to the challenge of strangers, sport arose as a sublimated representation of a community’s armed might as well as its pride of place and clan.
If I haven’t made myself clear, this worrisome chain of events describes the game of the nineteenth century.
Yes, we’ve seen it all before. And yes, those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it. But no, the sky is not falling – baseball is such a great game that neither the owners nor the players can kill it. After some necessary carnage, market forces will prevail.
Distant replay morphs into instant replay, and future replay cannot be far off.
Finally, for all of us but a lucky few, the dream of playing big-time baseball is relinquished so we can get on with grown-up things.
Award trophies, as opposed to letting the players define and claim their own. Ultimately, pay them to play so that their activity not only resembles work but is work.