Have you been to a baseball game recently?
The last one I went to was a Red Sox spring training game in Fort Myers in 2020. I picked up my dad from the airport and we got a quick lunch and then headed to JetBlue Park. It was in the 8th inning, unfortunately, that I felt a rumbly in my tummy. Turns out I had food poisoning from the caesar salad I had for lunch. My mother always warned me about caesar salads-the dressing has egg in it-but I like them so I took my chances for 50 years. Well my luck ran out that day.
Having fun at JetBlue Park, before things got messy.
Have you ever had food poisoning? It’s impressive, really. Our bodies have the ability to violently reject something it deems dangerous, and that’s a good thing, despite the gut wrenching projectiles that come with it.
Turns out they canceled baseball after that game. Because of Covid (not because of me).
But back to baseball. What I love about baseball is that you get to sit outside with friends and hang out for a really long time. When are you with people for that long? Not for dinner, not getting coffee, not a meeting, not a tennis match. I am not a golfer but maybe golf is a decent comparison-you hang out tooling around grass for four hours when you play 18 holes. Is there more to it than that? I hope not.
A better comparison is a day at the beach with your friends (not your children). There are stages to the day-you sit on the beach and catch up with friends, then maybe go for a swim, take a walk, take a nap, play pickle or that beach paddle game, eat and drink, nap again, more swimming, then, if time, do it all again.
With baseball you have the pre-game stage, when you are driving to the park listening to the pregame show on the radio, or watching it on TV from the bar across the park. Then there is the pre-seat phase where you are waiting in line for beer, then checking out the overpriced merch but not buying it, then maybe getting some food. At your seats you remark about how great the seats are, or not, then you have the preliminary anthems, and the early innings. You get more food, more beer, and make your way through the innings. There is the seventh inning stretch and the Take Me Out to the Ballgame, and for Red Sox fans, there’s Sweet Caroline. You get the idea.
Of course there is the entertainment of the game itself, and following the players and maybe there’s a home run or even a fight or an ejection of some sort. Baseball is a complicated game with many rules and so there is always something that happens that needs further commentary-like whether a ball that hits the wall and then somehow bounces out of the park is a ground rule double or not. One of my favorite parts of a game is when something controversial happens and you and each in your party weighs in on the thing, like you all actually know what you are talking about, and you really feel like you know what you’re talking about, because you’ve had three beers already and it's only the second inning.
I love all these things about baseball, including coming together with fans I don’t know to cheer on the team we all love. But it is the time that you spend doing all those things that makes me cherish baseball. Time is why baseball is enriching. I want that protected time and I want to revel in it, to recharge and slow down and interact with the people around me in the most enjoyable way I can think of.
There is a current push to shorten the game, and MLB is pondering tweaks to make baseball more “watchable”. A few ideas proposed are pitch clocks, limited pitcher pics, no stepping out of the batter’s box, fewer pitchers, fewer warm-up pitches, fewer innings, etc. It is argued that we the people don’t have the attention span, that the games are tedious with all those pitches and it would be more fun to have an increased “tempo”of the game. I get it-more viewers, more money. Hooray.
No it wouldn’t be more fun. I for one do not want to be robbed of time. Not a single pitch. You know what? We should debate whether baseball games are long enough. Baseball is an experience that is a valuable respite from our crazy plugged-in channel flipping lives and we should protect it.
There is Slow Fashion (a Second Serve favorite), and Slow Food, Slow Art, Slow Cinema, Slow Parenting, Slow Medicine and lots of other Slows out there. Let’s add baseball to the list.
Not for nothing we need it.
Herein starts the Slow Baseball Movement.
Who’s with me?