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.