The 2011 baseball season started a couple of weeks ago and is finally settling into a rhythm. More than most team sports, certainly most American team sports, baseball is all about rhythm. There is a rhythm to a season, to a game, even to an at bat.
To my mind, most of the things that have torn at the fabric of the game involve deconstructing it. Tearing it down. Taking a game that is much greater than the sum of its parts and turning it into, well, parts. Imagine taking a Beethoven piano concerto and taking all of the notes and putting them in different buckets. B flats in one bucket, Cs in another. You could analyze the number of each type of note, you could come up with probabilities for which note is most likely to follow another. You could crunch these numbers and some up with criteria to decide which other pieces you might enjoy. Put that into an Excel pivot table and presto!
Yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds. If you remove the soul and the visceral element from Beethoven, you’re left with an unsatisfying collection of notes that are played in a predetermined order. I think we’re doing the same to baseball and it hurts my heart.
Fantasy baseball, free agency with the associated monster contracts, big-money owners building a team for one championship run and then tearing it down all contribute. My beloved San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year and it was a great experience. But the experience was the fans uniting around Brian Wilson’s beard or my two sons cutting school to go to the massive victory parade. It wasn’t just a collection of games won.
Baseball, like life, has a rhythm. I enjoy a homerun or a double into the gap but truth be told, I crave the comfort it provides in spite of people who want to destroy it from within and a world which seems hell bent on making it less than it was meant to be.