“We are wary of sentiment and obsessively knowing, and we feel obliged to put a spin of psychology or economic determinism or bored contempt on all clear-color memories.  I suppose someone could say that my father  was a privileged Wasp, who was able to pursue some adolescent, rustic yearnings far too late in life.  But that would miss the point.  My father was knowing, too; he was a New York sophisticate who spurned cynicism.  He had only limited financial success as a Wall Street lawyer, but that work allowed him to put in great amounts of time with the American Civil Liberties Union.  Most of his life, I heard him talk about the latest issues or cases involving censorship, Jim Crow laws, voting rights, freedom of speech, racial and sexual discrimination, and threats to the Constitution; these struggles continue to this day, God knows, but the difference back then was that men and women like my father always sounded as if such battles would be won in the end.  The news was always harsh, and fresh threats to freedom immediate, but every problem was capable of solution somewhere down the line.  We don’t hold such ideas anymore – about our freedoms or about anything else.  My father looked on baseball the same way; he would never be a big-league player, or even a college player, but whenever he found a game he jumped at the chance to play and to win.
If this sounds like a romantic or foolish impulse to us today, it is because most of American life, including baseball, no longer feels feasible.  We know everything about the game now, thanks to instant replay and computerized stats, and what we seem to have concluded is that almost none of us are good enough to play it.  Thanks to television and sports journalism, we also know everything about the skills and financial worth and private lives of the enormous young men we have hired to play baseball for us, but we don’t seem to know how to keep their salaries or their personalities within human proportions.  We don’t like them as much as we once did, and we don’t like ourselves as much, either.  Baseball becomes feasible from time to time, not much more, and we fans must make prodigious efforts to rearrange our profoundly ironic contemporary psyches in order to allow its old pleasures to reach us.  My father wasn’t naive; he was lucky.”

– Roger Angell, “Early Innings”


  1. I stayed up late last night to watch the Brewers attempt top the Cards 2 to 0 in a 3-game series. Alas, they lost in the 11th inning.

    Angell puts his finger exactly on what prevents me from watching my once-loved Yanks. The Brewers offer a sort of reentry, though. Their sad sacks and know it, mabye; or maybe they’re sad sacks and don’t know it. Either way, ignorance is bliss and the DH remains an intrinsic sign of the inferior sort of baseball practiced by the AL, a harbor in nostaglia’s storm for has-been players who still need to collect a check.


  2. Jonathan Webb says

    The problem is us. We empty everything and we don’t know why or how to stop.

  3. I’d like a holiday.

Speak Your Mind