What makes baseball so good? I was listening to a spring training game a few weeks back and I realized that baseball captures, like little else, the atmosphere of my youth. Listening to the game being called I was shuttled back in time to grade four: on my front lawn, shirtless with an oversized mitt, firing pitches at an imaginary strike zone on my garage wall.
For years, baseball has represented a fantasy world full of memories and youthful excitement- the kind of excitement that as an adult I don’t feel very often anymore. And that’s not a complaint; it’s a fact of life. But I suppose that’s a discussion for another time.
This past Friday was Opening Night at the SkyDome in Toronto: Blue Jays vs. Twins. (It was my second opening night in a row. I mentioned to my pal Rubes that I’m trying to put together a bit of a run on home openers. He pointed out that two home openers in a row was nothing to be proud of and called me a tourist. Nice.) I paid $50 for a $14 ticket and spent another $60 on four cans of Bud Light and a slice of pizza.
Instead of a ballgame, I watched a stadium of 45,000 people lurch towards a clumsy, collective inebriation that verged on the embarrassing (Toronto the good? Like fuck). I watched as the allure of the ballpark (generous for the SkyDome) was relegated to a sideshow in a Vegas-style free for all: boobies, cheating, fighting- whatever you like.
And I’m no prude: fight and fuck all you like- I’m a voyeur like everyone else. But when the atmosphere I’d hoped for was trod upon by the giant neon hi-top that has become Friday night in Toronto, it felt, well, sad. It felt sad when I sat down; sad when I stood up to cheer and sad when I left before the game was over. There was none of the energy or wonder I’d hoped for, just the shitty, jealous feeling of getting older and knowing that the night’s experience was never going to belong to me.