Baseball Blahs

My first thought was to call this “Baseball Blues”, but that title didn’t fit, because I’m not particularly blue about it — whether that means depressed, naughty, or playing the. Nor did I intend any reference to an old, often pejoratively used, slang term for baseball umpires. As in, “Hey, Blue! Ya blind?! That pitch was way outside!”

What I am feeling about baseball, though, is decidedly blah, which is weird because after years of being very awful, my Minnesota Twins have had some good seasons and at long last become contenders. After some of the worst seasons in franchise history, that’s rewarding to see.

So why is it that I just don’t care?

As the 2021 seasons gets underway, I’ve been trying to figure that out, and I think it’s some combination of a number of possibilities…

§

Firstly, last year there was a lull. Because of COVID, the 2020 season was abbreviated and weird. Instead of stadiums full of fans, there were cardboard cut-outs, and the season was drastically shortened.

And it didn’t seem to really mean anything. The importance of baseball paled in light of insane politics, and then the COVID on top of all that.

There were more important and concerning focal points for my energy, so baseball just didn’t get much of my attention.

I recall how when I was married — back before streaming and everyone having their own screen — that the kids usually monopolized the one TV we had, so I lost track of the TV shows I regularly watched. To my surprise, I found I didn’t really miss those TV shows, and after I got divorced it was a while before watching TV sucked me in again.

So possibility #1 is that the lull simply got me out of the habit. If this turns out to be the main reason, my interest may return.

§

On a related note, that lull may have acted something like rehab or otherwise quitting an addictive behavior. One can get sucked into something that, even if the interest flags, becomes habit — almost part of one’s identity.

I got into baseball during a time of serious personal and work-related stress. I’ve always been at odds with society and politics. What’s happened in the last five years makes it easy to forget, but even back then much of what was going on in the world made my teeth grind.

So possibility #2 is that the forced lull had the effect of breaking a habit. Even if it wasn’t the nepenthe I saw it as, merely getting really into all things baseball may have ultimately become more a habit than a desire.

If this is the main possibility, my interest may return, but not as strong.

§

It’s also possible that I’ve reached a point where I just don’t need the escape baseball provided. The 21st century certainly didn’t get off to a good start for me: divorce, beloved dog dying, having twice to find a new position at work, getting old with all that entails, and a perception that humanity is sliding back to the dark ages.

But retirement has entirely removed the work stress and, now that Social Security and Medicare have kicked in, I feel adequate financially. It’ll be eight years of retirement this June, and constant R&R has done wonders for my psychological robustness.

There have been some other life changes that have contributed to a much better outlook. (Even such simple things as taking a vitamin D supplement has helped.)

So possibility #3 is that I just don’t need the distraction or escape of baseball like I used to. If that’s the key reason, my interest may not return at all.

§

Another possibility is simply that I’ve moved on. Some of my interests become life-long, but others don’t. I was way into graphic novels for quite a few years, but I seem to have lost interest in them almost entirely.

[I tried to reread Preacher, a favorite series, a while back, but couldn’t get through it. I’m wondering if I can get through the Sandman series. I’d really like to read that one again since there’s an adaptation coming on Netflix, but so far I haven’t had the urge to even start.]

I was also seriously into martial arts films for a number of years, but that, too, seems to have retreated into the past. I still enjoy the occasional martial arts film, but I don’t pursue them as I once did.

So possibility #4 is that baseball was one of those interests I explored to my satisfaction, and now I’m — to one extent or another — done with it. I suspect, if this is the case, it’ll be like martial arts movies: something I still will enjoy, but far less often than previously.

§

It’s also possible that I’ve come to resent the amount of time being a Twins fan imposes on me. A baseball game is roughly three hours long, and there are 162 of them during the six-month season.

There’s a game nearly every day. If we call that six-month season 180 days, then exactly 90% of those days include a baseball game. Plus the All-Star Game, plus postseason, and — if one is a dedicated fan — some preseason Spring Training games.

Just the regular seasons games, assuming three hours per game, involves 486 hours of baseball — time I could devote to interesting books, learning mathematics, or just watching new TV shows.

So possibility #5 is that I just can’t see myself spending that kind of time on baseball anymore, and last year’s lull helped me realize what a commitment it is.

§

The final possibility involves politics and business. YouTube TV, and most other live TV options, aren’t carrying the regional sports networks anymore. It was a whole thing with Sinclair networks, which, if you know about them, is off-putting that they owned the rights to broadcast those networks.

So part of the problem is not having the ability to watch the Twins even if I wanted to (which, so far, I can’t say I do).

My regional network, Fox Sports North, is now Bally Sports, and they’re only available on the AT&T TV and DirecTV streaming platforms (neither of which I plan to subscribe to). There apparently is a Bally Sports app that I’ll have to look into if my interest increases. One question is whether it’s available for my LG TV.

Additionally, politics itself has intruded. Originally the All-Star Game was scheduled to be held in Atlanta, but protests about voting rights (and general racism) got it moved out. And now the right-wing is up in arms about that.

Combine that with a constant trickle of players getting caught with steroids, and the ‘escaping the real world’ factor of baseball seems tainted to me. On top of that, they’ve done some very stupid things with the rules trying to shorten game length.

So possibility #6 is that I’ve come to dislike the business and politics of baseball. If it’s going to be as fucked up as the rest of the world, why bother? I’ve got better things to do.

§ §

So that’s a lot of possible reasons, all of which I think play some role. I just can’t figure out what, if any, is the key reason or how this will play out as the season continues.

I suspect that if the Twins start doing really well, and keep doing really well, I’ll be more interested in getting on board. One problem in the past has been the “fake out” — they do well and get one’s hopes up, but then crash and burn. It’s been tough seeing them get into postseason and getting eliminated 1-2-3, but there have been seasons that started off well and ended badly.

So I dunno. I’ll see how it goes, I guess.

§

The thing is, it’s hard for me to be a casual fan — or a casual anything, really. Maybe it’s a touch of OCD or being on the edges of the spectrum, but I tend to invest heavily in whatever I commit to. As the saying goes, I work hard, and I play hard.

Even when I’m lazy, I lazy hard.

So when I do truly move past something, I tend to move way past it.

That said, I do still enjoy martial arts films, and I don’t see myself utterly forsaking baseball. I’m still a baseball fan and a Twins fan, and I’ll still wear my Twins gear proudly. I still want them to win — would love to see them get to the World Series again (or even just manage to get deeper into postseason).

But I just ain’t into it like I was.

For whatever reason(s), the obsession has passed.

Stay evolving, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

36 responses to “Baseball Blahs

  • Wyrd Smythe

    This post started off as a Brain Bubble (I thought it was going to be pretty short), but once the word count went over 1000 it became just a regular post.

    Which always seems to happen. I may need to rethink (or just give up on) the whole Brain Bubbles thing.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Given my love of math, data, and charts, I always wondered why I never got that into baseball stats. In part I know it’s because those are some deep waters that require a lot of time to learn about, but I can’t help but wonder if it isn’t also a pre-indicator of some kind.

    It may simply be that, as I mentioned in the post, when I get into something I get way into it, and I just never had the time to swim in such deep waters. Baseball stats are one of those areas people dedicate their professional or personal lives to, and that was never going to be me.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Sounds to me like you’ve just gotten bored with it. That tends to happen to me with just about everything eventually. I was big time into history several years ago, and I still occasionally dive into a history book, but nothing like I did during the 2000s. I was also big into political biographies back then, which I’ve decidedly lost all interest in. I read a lot of fantasy during the turn of the century, but haven’t been much into it in the last decade. (At least in terms of reading.)

    Even my interest in science fiction has waxed and waned over the decades. I recall having fairly lower interest during the 90s, and having to go back and catch up on all the movies I missed during those years.

    It’s the same with computers. I’ve alternated between periods of intense interest followed by low minimal interest, then a surge again a few years later, although usually in some new aspect of the field (game programming, database programming, Windows programming, web programming, etc).

    I’ve never understood how people who stay interested in a particular topic their entire lives do it.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      “I’ve never understood how people who stay interested in a particular topic their entire lives do it.”

      🙂 Ever since our friend Michael’s two posts about that phrase (this one and this one) it’s had some extra depth and texture for me.

      I am one of those people you don’t understand! For example, I’ve loved science fiction since I discovered it — to the point it’s a large fraction of the fiction I read. Computer programming is another example. I’ve been into it since my first CS class back in 1977. (The tag line on my programming blog is: “I just can’t stop writing code!”) Physics would be another example, and rock-n-roll is yet another.

      I think a lot of it has to do with finding things that resonate in a big way. Those things I just listed are things that speak to me on a deep level. There’s an old phrase about taking to something “like a duck to water” that gets at that natural resonance. The “science” in science fiction, and in computer science, is part of what ties those and science together. The various aspects of physical reality — from quanta to galaxies — has always fascinated me. Music, one way or another, has been part of my life since my mom taught me to play piano as a kid. Music is a whole other side, a Yang to the science Yin. Getting into theatre in high school opened up that side even more. (I love that STEM evolved to STEAM. I think that “A” is so very important!)

      One way to put it is that it’s the difference between interests and passions. The former do come and go, they have their season. The latter are more likely to stick.

      I’m not sure it’s the case that I’m “bored” by baseball. It still interests me in principle. It’s more that my devotion to it seems — at least for the moment — to be unsustainable. It may be that, after serious immersion in it for years (including writing a large suite of Python code to capture, analyze, and report, on it) it needs to take a lesser role. I still think it’s a fascinating game — subtle and complex — but it’s definitely the case that, right now, my mind is elsewhere. Perhaps, like computers are for you, I’m just in a minimal interest phase.

      It may also be that, as I mentioned, I’ve gotten out of the habit, and since my days are filled by other interests right now, it’s not a habit I’m willing to sink into again at this time.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Wow. I had to go look at Michael’s post again to understand which phrase you were referring to. It’s a case of me using it completely unthinkingly. I definitely didn’t mean it in the sense he was discussing, a put down or criticism. I literally did mean I don’t have knowledge of how people maintain interest in things that long since I’ve never been able to do it. (If anything, it’s an admission of a character flaw on my part, because it’s resulted in periods where I cared less than I should have about my job.)

        A lot of what you describe seem like details of getting bored to me, but maybe I’m just using that phrase too broadly. I don’t think it’s a problem if you have other interests filling in the gap. The only time to worry, I think, is when you can’t find interest in anything. I’ve gone through periods like that in my life, and it’s safe to say they were periods of depression.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        My takeaway from Michael’s posts was to try to see it as a starting point for discovery, which is why I tried to explain. Boiled down, it’s about having passions. What got me through tough times at work (until the tough times outweighed everything) was my passion for the work itself. I’ve always loved figuring out how to build something.

        I suppose it depends on exactly what you mean by “bored.” For me it means having no perceived attraction or value, and that isn’t the case WRT baseball. It’s more that its value to me, at least right now, seems less than the value of other interests (such as working my way through the works of Agatha Christie or learning the mathematics of QM). There is also that some research, effort, and change, is necessary to be able to even see Twins games, and I just haven’t been willing to spend the time.

        In fact, right now I’m going to go back to my couch and curl up with the Agatha Christie Miss Marple novel I’m reading. When I finish that I have to finish the collection of her plays before the library loan expires. And I need to get back to researching Bell experiments, plus I have to write the third post in the Digital Divide series… So, yeah, baseball is definitely on the back burner for now. 😀

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Oh, BTW, lack of interest in anything is definitely a red flag for depression, although it can also just be that one needs to break out of whatever rut one has worn. It does, as you say, help to have diverse interests.

  • The Paltry Sum

    Did you say a Sandman series! I loved those books! They had better not mess it up! Poor baseball, it is doing nothing to endear itself to people – blacking out home area games, and some outside of the home team is doing nothing to keep me watching. I live in SF, and they blacked out the Angels game, but only the one with Ohtani’s return to pitching, the bastards!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I did, yes! The Sandman series is one of my all-time favorites. I’m a fan of Neal Gaiman in general — even more so of his pal Sir Terry Pratchett and Discworld, which is my #1 favorite SF (which is kinda weird because I usually lean towards hard SF). Gaiman is associated with the Netflix series, so hopefully they won’t mess it up. [fingers very much crossed; also toes]

      Blacking out home games is one of those things… it’s all about money, but damn, it’s not like everyone in the area can attend the games. That was the nice thing about FSN — all the games, road and home. (I’m also not happy with this new rule about a runner on second in extra innings. I’m hoping fan pushback makes that go away.)

      BTW: Welcome to my blog (and nice to meet you)!

      • The Paltry Sum

        Now that makes me smile! If Gaiman is involved there is hope yet.
        The runner on second thing is madness and has to stop. It the current commish. I swear the man hates baseball!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I get that feeling, too, like he just doesn’t get it or sees it in a very wrong way. (At the same time, there is some truth to the popularity of baseball slipping over the years. Football and basketball seem to be the biggies now, so part of it is trying to find ways to bring in new fans. Going about it the wrong to my eyes, though!)

      • The Paltry Sum

        Totally in agreement. Baseball doesn’t need to change – they need to give people games to watch. I got MLBTV free with my phone service. It is usually $129, and you still get blackouts. You are not going to create interest when you make it so hard to watch. Drop ticket prices, play up the history and the beauty of a game which isn’t constant frenetic excitement or brutality. I think there is a huge untapped market of female fans who just don’t know they enjoy baseball yet. Runner on 2nd, pitching clocks..none of that is going to work. Robot umps also makes me queasy.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I almost subscribed to the same offer. (Through T-Mobile?) I figured there would be blackouts, and I was suspicious of what came along with that offer (nothing is free), so didn’t go with it. I do subscribe to the MLB app, but I really need to figure out how to watch Twins games.

        Good point about female fans, I think you’re right. Baseball is one of the few sports where you can have a conversation during the game. It’s not “boring”… it’s sedate. There’s a quote I like that the ocean can seem boring until you look beneath the surface. I think George Carlin’s bit about comparing baseball and football is right on the money (and really funny). The trick, maybe, is to realize that every pitch is a subtle battle between pitcher and batter. And the nuances — what runners are on, what the pitch count is, who is pitching, who is batting,… such a rich and textured sport. One just has to learn to see it.

        Robot umps, yeah,… real mixed feelings there, but I come down on being against. Baseball is a spectacularly human game — team sport, but one player, one play, can change everything — and the umps, bad calls and good calls, are just part of that humanity. And the truth is, they usually do a very good job. We just tend to remember, like, forever, those bad calls that went against us.

      • The Paltry Sum

        Joe West tries to persuade me towards robot umps every single time he makes a call. Hernandez (Angel I think) is also awful. MLBtv whether it is from Tmobile or you pay your fees, routinely blacks out games. I believe AT&T tv at almost $100 a month is the only option that has no black outs. Youtube TV blacks out. Amazon ditto. Me and the Boy love watching a game together. There is just no way to do it.
        It took me a while to learn how to read a game – you are right, if you just watch without understanding it isn’t riveting, but once you get it…that full count pitch becomes the most exciting thing in sports.
        Despite Mr. West, I’d come down against the robot umps too. Baseball is organic, it just rips the heart out of it.
        I’ve taken to following the Giants online, but watching whichever games look good. If I was richer I would just pay AT & T…but it is outrageous!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Ha, yeah, West and Hernandez think it’s all about them. I’m betting they’re just frustrated players.

        AT&T TV is $100/mo? Wow! I thought YouTube TV was high-priced at $70. Damn. The whole point of cutting the cable was to save dollars. I’m trying to cut Google out of my life — they’re so far from their original “Do No Evil” ethic, so I really need to get looking at other live TV options. But Bally Sports (which carry Twins games) is only on AT&T TV and DirecTV, neither of which seem like viable options. (Certainly not AT&T if their prices are that high!)

        Full count is even more exciting with bases loaded! All this baseball talk is making me reconsider my Blahs! 🙂

      • The Paltry Sum

        I am watching the Twins game right now. I have rarely seen such HEART as Astudillo! The man is a one man cheerleading team, every play he plays like it is the world series!
        Come on Smythey! Come back to baseball! You know you want to! MLB TV and VPN the black outs is the best option I think…

      • Wyrd Smythe

        La Tortuga! Yeah, he’s a delight, isn’t he? The story is that his dad helped him train by tossing bottle caps while Willians used a broom handle for a bat. As a result, the guy rarely misses a pitch he swings at. And he’s so full of joy!

        Somehow I need to find a lot more hours in the day… There just isn’t enough time to do all the things I want to! 😦

      • The Paltry Sum

        …re West and Hernandez – I think they are just blind and have personal favorites..but that is just me…But yeah, I totally see Hernandez at least as a frustrated player wanting to mess with the boys!

      • The Paltry Sum

        Ive got the twins game on now…swap you a giants game?

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Ha! If only!! Unfortunately I don’t really have any sports networks right now (unless it’s on ESPN or the MLB network).

      • The Paltry Sum

        It is ridiculous! You want people to watch, give them the games to watch! If they gave you the Twins game, and me the Giants game, all would be well in the world. It is Kafka-sian!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yet another example of business shooting itself in the foot!

      • The Paltry Sum

        Absolutely! I find it so strange that they could have the whole of Minnesota watching the Twins, and all of SF bay area watching the A’s and Giants…and Angels when there is good pitching, but they want to give it to people who don’t really want those games. That is why baseball is dying. It is tragic.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        It’s not something new, either. Blackouts go way back to when games were on “regular” TV. As if the whole state could attend the game. [Ha! It just started hailing outside for a few minutes. I do love the weather here!]

      • The Paltry Sum

        Hail sounds positively friendly for springtime Minnesota! I love the state – best summer I ever had on a lake up in Cass County. I can’t do winter. I can just about manage a Californian non-winter with a bit of fog and rain.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Climate change has made our springs weird here. We go from chilly to hot and humid in the space of a week. A friend of mine thinks we have many more windy days now than she remembers as a kid. I lived here as a kid, too, but my family moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s. Ironically, my job brought me back in the mid 1980s, and here I still am. I do love it here. There are places my morning walks take me through woody parks! Very spirit restoring!

      • The Paltry Sum

        That sounds relaxing – I feel the same way about the Bay area – it just feels like home! LA is a bit busy for me. I hope the heat gets there soon for you!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That’s just it; it happened this week. Temps were in the 30s and 40s and suddenly we’re seeing 70s and 80s and thunderstorms!

        But I’m damned if I’ll turn on the A/C in April.

        [p.s. I’ve noticed on your blog that Liking comments doesn’t seem to take. I can tell you have permissions locked down pretty tight (and I don’t blame you a bit), so that may be it. In conversations I often forget to anyway. Just take it as a given that I like your comments!]

      • The Paltry Sum

        Ditto if you ever see it not working! Oh the weather is there already! At thunderstorms and 80! My gosh!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yep, and hail!

        With my “regulars” I often use a Like on their last comment if I don’t feel it needs a response. Just way way of saying, “Yep! Until next time!”

      • The Paltry Sum

        Ill go have a peek! Thank you for the links!

  • Michael

    Baseball is a tough one for me. I think I’m somewhat like yourself, Wyrd, in that I don’t like to halfway do something–like I don’t commit to starting many shows because I feel like I should finish them or something. I’m okay with it and not complaining. It’s just a quirk. And with baseball, I see it as a bit like a long run or something. You can’t just show up and watch one mile of a marathon and think you understand it. It just looks like running for no reason. But if you’re with your team day in and day out and you understand what happened to the rotation, and how the relievers all had to throw last night and tonight they’re SOL if the starter can’t go for seven, and who’s slumping, and who’s not, and all those myriad little stories that go into it, then I think it can be amazing. I just don’t have the time right now. Haha. I’d feel like there were other things more important to me I was missing. But maybe if I didn’t feel that way I could catch the wave…

    It seems like baseball is a sport losing popularity somewhat, but I don’t know if that’s really true or not? I hear the salaries these people are still making in new contracts and wonder how they can be afforded if the sport is losing popularity. I also love the romantic notion of getting off work and going to the ballpark back in the day. The thing for me is I can get into it in a good social setting. I enjoyed watching the Braves when I was in college–they had Smoltz, Glavin, and Maddux throwing for them then–but a lot if was the enjoyment of hanging with a good friend, enjoying a beer, grilling, and having the game on in the background. That’s kind of what I think about baseball… it’s almost a reverie or something. And once the dream of it catches hold of you… of you go!

    Michael

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I was that into baseball for ten years (2010–2019) but 2020 upset the apple cart, so I’ve lost touch with that flow of stories and information. It definitely is a commitment, and my plate is rather full at the moment.

      But talking baseball with The Paltry Sum has it more on my mind, so I’ll see what happens. The first thing I have to do is figure out how to watch the games…

      Yes, baseball has been losing popularity for years, and the MLB has been doing some stupid things trying to make it more exciting to people who’d rather watch football or basketball. A lot of it is related to game pace. Last year they added a rule that, in extra innings, the inning starts with a runner on second. Which drives many fans a bit crazy.

      Exactly as you say, a baseball game is a social thing — a rare sport where one can fully enjoy a game while having a conversation with friends. And indeed there is a dream-like component. The best baseball movie ever made is Field of Dreams!

      [Funny that Kevin Costner has been in three baseball movies (four if you count The Upside of Anger) and two of them are among the three best baseball movies made.]

      Where you a Braves fan in 1991? Game seven is considered by many among the best baseball games ever played. John Smoltz v. Jack Morris. Only one run scored and that not until the 10th inning.

      Damn! All this baseball talk… I really need to find a way back!

  • Ten Years Blog | Logos con carne

    […] already written about the baseball blahs — it ain’t just baseball; it’s me. (I at least picked a good year to not care. My […]

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