29 October 2007

The Magnificent Contraption or The Fallen Have Mighty

We've had this discussion before, and I told you that BASEBALL is The Magnificent Contraption. A 19th century mechanism. Gears and Levers. Wait - there's space in between. And time. And then parts set in motion like a Rube Goldberg machine. Patched by bubblegum and oiled by tobacco spit.

And those heady sportswriters wax about its waning with peanutshell nostalgia. And Fox dusts off McCarver and Buck's voice reminds us of his father, so the execs hope that will remind you of yours. The new World Series theme music is all brass and pageantry, swollen with old-timey reverance. And John Williams' rendition of the National Anthem with the Boston Pops.

But you and the rest of them were busy watching football with lite beer and chips. The NFL is a 21st century gizmo, a shiny gadget, a relentlessly marketed product. And of course, it's a war game, technologized and pointed at conquering space. Collision and pressing forward, whereas the ballsmen circle the bases (If you aren't familiar, see George Carlin's bit about how the respective sports come to terms - being "safe" at "home" versus "endzone" and "sudden death," etc.). Don't get me wrong, I was watching, too. But my point is that football is glitchridden - yellow flags on every third or so play. Do over. Should we do it over? Let's watch it over on video and decide if we should do it over. They haven't figured out how the game is to be played. They don't need to. In addition, though the NFL regular season is 16 games long (less than one-tenth of baseball's), its players can rarely manage to play in them all, as the game's violence is too much for its padding.

But I digress. I didn't come here to fight but to say cheers to the second Red Sox championship in four years. The cursed have become the blessed. Some may say this is evidence of the toxic corporatization of baseball and the former lovable losers have bought themselves an evil empire. Some of that, yes.
But the baseball historian knows the Robber Baron and the snakeoil salesman have shepherded the grand game from the beginning. In a different way, for sure, as the so-called "Curse of the Bambino" stems from the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees by Sox owner Harry Frazee in order to finance another business venture of his, a Broadway play called "No, No, Nanette." For someone who grew up with bluecollar Boston-accented relatives, there's a mystique to the Red Sox that wouldn't stick to even the NFL's oldest teams. Lombardi smacks of history but his Packers were winning Super Bowls in the late sixties. My grandfather was in the same war as Ted Williams. And while Joe Namath is still spry enough to get soused and hit on lady sideline reporters, Williams head is cryogenically frozen. And the bitterness and disappointment of Red Sox fan is generations older than Williams. It's been percolating. You can taste it in Dunkin Donuts' coffee.

The fact that this Sox team prevailed over the Colorado Rockies to take the series took some of the teary haze from my soft focus. The black-and-purple (along with the easteregg turqoise and hospitalscrub teal) is all 1990s expansion. Denver's baseball history is as thin as the air. But today the team took their victory parade in "Duck Boats" - World War II amphibious vehicles converted to tourist carriers - and what's better than that?

(If you are not familiar with baseball, here is an instructional video. thanks c.)


kris said...

I like the juxtaposition between linear football and circular baseball. Nobody else's sport runs in circles, does it?

Basketball, hockey, soccer, rugby, lacrosse, whatever -- all of it is linear, territories, moving a token, a talisman from one end of a defined space to another, and inserting it in your opponents territory, inside their goal. It's stuffing. It's moving from outside in.

But baseball's from the inside out! Knock it out of the park. And complete a circle.

The only similar sport I can think of (and a fine sport at that), with a reversal of the outside-in movement, is cricket.

Cricketers run back and forth, from A to B and back again, circular in the return motion, the territory unclaimed. And the park is a circle, any arc of which is equally inviting for you to knock it out of.

Oh, and that kid? Awesome. He will most likely grow up to be president one day.

Viva La Muerte said...

Why are those people fighting like that?