To each his own ball game

David Churbuck is an exceptional writer.  Here is a sample from his recent post on scoring baseball.

I never think to bring a sweatshirt in this summer of damned rain, sunspot anomalies, and El Nino disturbances that makes the sighting of a lost snowflake a distinct possibility one of these evenings. I take my card – with the Kettleer’s Gothic Germanic Script on one side, the ad from UBS Wealth Management Services of Hyannis utterly out of place during this Deprecessionary Summer. And I settle in, arriving 15 minutes early to get a prime spot in the top row of the old bleachers (the pipe railing is a nice back rest and the old gents who have the Knowledge sit there). Popcorn bag gets wedged on the springy green foot plank of the bleachers so it won’t blow over and shower the miscreant delinquents under the stands with my dinner. Moxie gets saved for the end of the bag when the popcorn salt makes it imperative.

Then the card gets filled out. First the opponent.


He goes on to compellingly describe his discovery of the true baseball fan’s art of recording and analyzing every detail of a game.  And there I am lost.

His enjoyable post brings to mind the axiom “to each his own,” as throughout, I kept thinking “no way would I do this.”

Often, people don’t appreciate things because they haven’t gotten below the surface.  Witness NASCAR (here, the baseball connoisseurs gasp that I would dare draw this parallel to the Sacred American Tradition, and begin to plot my dismemberment).  On the surface, NASCAR is a bunch of loud cars, purposefully limited to a clunky design style referencing moonshine running getaway cars, going around an oval hundreds of times.  Not so interesting.  But wait!  Study the driver and team histories, the latest dirt on who bumped who and who threw their helmet, and don a pair of headphones that pipe in the driver-to-spotter-to-crew chief radio chatter about tire wear, and you really get it!  I’ve sampled this, and I still can’t make myself watch.  But clearly many do, and have the flags on their porches to prove it.

It seems that America specializes in obsessive behavior.  The term “all in” seems to describe anyone who meets the minimum requirements for participation.  For instance, I know of no one who claims to be a cyclist who is without $3000+ of gear and who doesn’t look like Lance Armstrong when saddled up.  My friend is psyched to be driving to Florida (12 hours?) to acquire a bike worth $4000 for less than $2000.  And don’t show up to rock climb without a massive rack of gear and tape over the rips in your fingertips.

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I can get as obsessive about a new interest as anyone.  I’ve recently dipped my toe in the water of disc golf, which my kids label my latest “phase”, and now own 11 highly necessary discs with different flight ratings.

But man, as much as I appreciate the cultural import of baseball and genuinely seek common ground with its adherents, keeping an encoded score sheet (and cross referencing it with the published box score later!!) about a game that requires frequent trips to the concession stand to keep me at the park, sounds like self-inflicted water boarding.  I’m starting to appreciate my brother’s conditions of participation in sports: “OK, I’ll go, but only if you don’t try to help me improve, or suggest better equipment.  I just want to have fun.”  Ironically, this is the same brother who scored baseball games as a kid.

Well, back to pruning my Japanese maples.  Did I mention I have six varieties, including dissectum and palmatum cultivars?



1 Response to “To each his own ball game”

  1. 1 david shaw July 28, 2009 at 10:41 am

    You’re not a slouch of a writer yourself, Craig.
    Nicely worded. I struggled to write a TV spot based
    on a baseball game during my first months in Canada;
    and think I almost got fired because I couldn’t crack
    the code. So I can identify.

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