Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cal, Cooperstown, and Camping


Or at least that's what I'm accusing Wife of. Here's the situation, I wrote a wonderful blog post about baseball. My basic premise was that baseball could be most easily explained by Freudian psychoanalysis of all sports. Just think about it, the batter defends "home" from the pitcher who's symbolically attacking it? But for some reason Wife thought that because her parents read the blog I for some reason had to constrain myself to subjects of proper decorum? But at least Cami and Dave will now have each baseball game they watch ruined from my above suggestion, bwahahaha. That's what you get for studying English!

Well the whole point of this is to state that this has been the Summer of Baseball. Yes that great American pastime which has the rest of the world thinking "and you call soccer boring?" While they are right, baseball is a lot more boring than soccer, it is the quintessential American game. Besides the Freudian implications listed above, baseball is about community.

From the outset a community of fans, regardless of which team they support, converge upon a stadium and break bread and bratwurst together. Entering the park as one they lay aside the divisiveness of politics and religion in place of a conversation about hitting streaks and ERA. The games themselves move at a glacial pace, thus allowing fans attending the game in the park an opportunity to converse with one another amicably. The traditions tied to the game of singing, eating, rejoicing, and mourning together are mere reflections of the best parts of the American pathos. While our political tradition and history may define us as a nation-state in the world, to see into the soul of an American you have to attend a baseball game.

With that in mind we had a summer of baseball this year. Kicking it off with a glorious weekend (except when it rained) in Cooperstown, NY. The birthplace of baseball and thus of the American soul. We ended the summer in some of the most hallowed (not deathly) grounds in America....Fenway Park.

Now I must also point out that our summer of baseball included what is obviously a sign of the end of the world or at least the end of Wife's sanity or physical health. It is that terrible! In search of the perfect baseball weekend, Wife went camping! Daring both the outside and the things that are outside, the love of my life slept in a tent for two nights. Now granted the site we were at had a full flushable bathroom and shower facility. And granted we didn't do typical camping "things" like canoing, hiking, or digging latrines; still I was certain that camping was one of those things my dear sweet soul mate would never do again (the last time I tried to get her camping ended poorly for me).

The last weekend in July we spent the weekend with my in-laws in the lovely little town of Cooperstown, NY (pop. 2,032) with the other Orioles and Padres fans (est. 75,000) for the induction of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn into the baseball hall of fame. The weekend was largely spent soaking up the smell of grilled kielbasa and dogs and jostling people out of the way.

Besides the baseball specific shops and museums, we were also able to enjoy a free minor league game at Doubleday field, which was quite fun until the rain started. I think it was better for all the fans in town because the Ripken family threw out the first pitch.

The day of the induction we arrived early 8am for the 1pm ceremony. We figured that would give us plenty of time to pick a spot where we could see the podium and enjoy the ceremony. We were wrong. We ended up way in the back of the field. Still we were better off than the thousands of people who showed up after us. Perhaps the most amusing part of the whole thing was watching my brother-in-law sleep in the middle of a heavily trafficked foot path. I kept encouraging the passers by to kick him as they awkwardly stepped around him but none would so instead I kicked him while he slept. Maybe that's why he looks so grumpy.

I don't have much to say about the ceremony itself except for the fact that I don't think anyone was left in Baltimore during it. I've never seen so many people wearing ugly orange and brown uniforms. Still they're less obnoxious than Yankees fans, well unless you happen to go to a Sox vs. O's games with one of those self-same fans. More on that in my next post though.

Cooperstown 0727-0729

Now playing: Kurt Vonnegut - A Man Without a Country (Unabridged)
via FoxyTunes


Mom said...

Thanks for reminding of one of the best weekends of my life. It was spectular. (And I finally got to sleep in a tent this summer.)The only way that weekend could be beat would be a weekend with 4 or my 5 kids in Idaho, shopping for baby clothes.

Roy @ CNM said...

You're lukewarm on baseball and don't like camping? What are you doing in this family? what happened ot kissing up to my folks?

I am also unimpressed of your praise for the democratic nature of the game. Like all things truly American, baseball has the facade of democracy with a rank capitalistic core. Major league ticket prices and concenssions anywhere attest to that.

That said, the game is our soul because it's our history--from urbanization to westward expansion to segregation. And the "glacial pace" of which you speak reminds us of a mythic past we long for, without knowing quite why.

dastew said...

Spoken like the true post-modern post-colonialist that you are. In lieu of your argument and mine we could also argue that baseball represents the post-nation state paradigm or tribalism (i.e. constructed identity). The fact that loyalty to teams divides the nations along nearly tribal lines speaks to the shifting identity that all humanity experiences. After all who has more in common, two yankees fan one an anglophone and one a hispanophone or a yankee and red sox fan. In terms of baseball identity their tribal assignment. Since most people are apolitical that means that the fault line of language will be bridged when confronted with a rabid Sox fan. Go Sox!

dastew said...

Wow. My own comments are less intelligible than my posts. Where's my editor? To finish the point I tried to make with my bad grammar (I blame that on the time I spent in Utah doing my higher education, it certainly couldn't be a New York thing, we actually spend money on our students out here), sports affects peoples identities by having them stake out a common unifying influence. While sometimes the teams we choose are a reflection of some previous existing identity, e.g. Celtic (Catholic) vs. Rangers (Protestant) in the Scottish Premier League, by and large the teams get integrated into our identity.

Thus when faced with a common foe in athletics that identity takes salience over other identities that also consitute a part of our persona.

Here just look at this and you'll see what I mean.

Roy @ CNM said...

I like that map. But I think it fails to account for the widespread Cubs and Braves allegiances in the midwest-west due to the superstations of the 1980s. When I was growing up, most Evanston folks followed one of those two teams because those were the games you got on WGN and TNN. Minor league affiliations also come into play in ways that the map does not account for. Portland, for example may be a Padres fan because the Beavers are a San Diego farm team. Florida too is pretty messy due to retired New Yorkers who still root for the Yankees in Tampa.

I'd also like to see how socioeconomic come into play. Football allegiances in ABQ, for example, underscore class and race. In the barrio, folks root for the Raiders. In the suburbs it's the Cowboys or the Broncos. Now the Cards are trying to get a foot in the door in our region. that'll only work with the yuppies.

But to return, baseball matters because it links us to a time when our nation was becoming, a time that we must now re-member, re-assemble through the act of re-interrogating the successes and failures of the past.

Wife of dastew said...

Wow, the two of you just made me grateful that we don't see each other much. Good grief.

La Yen said...

I feel dumb, because I just like baseball. And I don't know what you said. Because I am just a mom.

And camping blows.

Alissa said...

camping sucks. try adding 3 kids. we haven't been since abbie was a baby.

baseball... LAME. And BORING. Community or not.

Coops said...

I have to censor myself! That doesn't happen very often which is why my family hates me & I have no friends who live close to me - You are lucky to have a wife that keeps an eye on you! (I love my wife even if she can't stop me saying, writing or doing stupid things!)
I don't get baseball - it is as boring as cricket!

dastew said...

Cricket makes less sense than baseball. How can a game go for multiple days without any resolution? I just don't understand it. However I have been watching the rugby world cup and I could easily get hooked on that game, though Australian Rules Football looks like even more fun.

Coops said...

At least I get cricket, but you're right, it goes on even longer than American sports! Loving the rugby though, we were in America for the last world cup, and there just wasn't enough of it on!

Coops said...

Also at least over here, we have sports that have 'WORLD' in the title that really do involve the rest of the world, unlike all those American 'World Series', 'World Championship' etc!

dastew said...

I noticed that the Americans had a respectable performance against the English. We still lost, but for a game that no one but snooty college students plays I was impressed by our showing. Or maybe the English just don't know how to play rugby.

Coops said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coops said...

We saved some players, and didn't work too hard, no point wasting all our energy on a team we know we can win against when there are much tougher games to come - we don't just destroy teams for the sake of it - that said, we aren't such a good team at the moment, and there is no way we will do as well as we did 4 years ago!

Coops said...

Now our captain can't play for tripping up one of your players (he should have been looking where he was going), and we have a whole load of injuries - we should have cleared this round fairly easily, but it isn't looking too good right now!

Mr Jo Bloggity said...

I was going to offer you a guest editorial on the psycho-analysis of baseball but it looks like you've already done it.

Interesting perspective on the sport and the nation.

Panini said...

wow - i've missed out on a lot. ;)