By Jim McCarthy Oct 28, 2011 0 comments

Something Happened Last Night…

Baseball’s boring.

And there are so many games that they’re practically meaningless.

It’s mostly guys dressed in pajamas standing in a field blowing bubbles with their gum, or worse yet, chewing some Red Man.  If you saw a group like this in your local park, you’d assume these were guys doing court ordered community service for various petty crimes.

It’s a 19th century game invented before color print, much less television, radio or the internet.  If you had to wait twenty minutes for something interesting to happen in 1880, you were living in the fast lane, brother.  Bad off-peak college football games get better ratings than baseball on TV these days.  Kids are playing soccer instead of baseball.

Yes, yes, yes.  That’s all true, more or less.  Or at least it’s hard to argue with because the culture has shifted somewhat against baseball.

But were you watching last night?  My facebook feed would indicate that a lot of people not normally baseball-interested were watching, but I’m going to check the ratings to make sure. (UPDATE: the ratings weren’t very good, which is interesting.  I wonder why so many people normally not interested in baseball are talking about this game today.)  I think we had a cultural moment of getting re-acquainted with baseball.  Even one of the millenials who lives in my house couldn’t stop watching, and he’s deeply embedded in the “baseball is boring” crowd.  “I can’t believe how exciting this is,” were his words, if I recall correctly.

To catch you up if you missed it, the St. Louis Cardinals were down 3 games to 2 behind the Texas Rangers, which meant a loss eliminated the Cardinals and gave the title to the Rangers.  Down 7 to 5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals miraculously tied it up, then went down 2 runs again in the 10th, tied it in the bottom of the tenth, and then won it in the bottom of the 11th on a solo home run.  Three miracle comebacks in 3 innings.

That’s good drama on any stage.  It’s as if all the effort time that went into the 2500 baseball games this year before now built tension that’s paying off now.  In fact, that’s exactly what it is.  That Wednesday night game between the Padres and the Brewers in July might not mean much by itself, but it adds to the weight of what’s happening in the playoffs.

Will it have a long lasting effect?  Well, I bet tonight’s ratings are huge, but beyond that, America, here’s my three step plan to return to baseball:

1.  You don’t have to watch it on TV during the regular season.  Maybe just put it on in the background, possibly even just stream the audio or turn on your actual radio if you’ve got one.

2.  Go to the games.  Summer without going to a few baseball games is missing something.  Have a dog, have a beverage of your choice, sit in the sun, soak it in.

3. Follow your team in the standings.  You can check in every couple days because there’s always news.  Just keep an eye on the story line.

4.  Watch the playoffs.  This includes the last few games of the playoff race.  This is where it builds in excitement.  Of course, if they expand the playoffs to be more inclusive, this could be weakened considerably, but for now, the playoffs are pretty meaningful.

Sure, baseball is a 19th century game, but in a way, that’s a point in its favor.  It’s a little respite from our century, which, let’s face it, has some work to do before it can seriously be considered for the Century Hall of Fame.

Something interesting happened last night: America was enthralled with a baseball game.  I wonder what will happen next.

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