The news these past few months has been depressing. What should be a light, fun activity has turned into all the things we turn to baseball to avoid. But it isn’t the end of enjoying baseball, much less the end of the world.
Major League Baseball has decided to that the players and owners aren’t done arguing over the big pot of money they make off us, the fans. They are taking their ball and going home for a while. Don’t worry, they’ll tell us when they’re ready to take our money again. And we’ll shell it out to them. At least I will.
I’m in no way giving up on Major League Baseball. Baseball is part of the fabric of my life in a rather unique way. It is something that binds my family. I talk baseball with my Nana, learned how to keep score from my mom. Baseball is something I shared with both my grandfathers.
Baseball on the radio is a staple of farming life and I’ve spent years of my life driving tractors and listening to games. I used to sit out there and dream of one day having season tickets and for years now I’ve had a ticket plan. Yes, I love baseball. And Major League Baseball is the best baseball there is.
Oh yeah, I’ll be back. Probably on Opening Day. Whenever that is.
However, the things that truly make baseball such a great part of my life aren’t confined to Major League ballparks. Last weekend I took my family to a Long Beach State game. The smile on my 4 year old son’s face as he bit into an ice cream cone was just as big as ever. Family, fresh air, ice cream…that’s what is important.
Each year I drone on and on about Spring Training being my favorite time of the year. The fans are great, the stadiums are small, and you can put on your GM hat to see if you can spot a future star. Baseball is a big part of it but what I really love is the time with my Dad and some friends. Does it get better than a day game with Dad?
I’m keeping baseball in my life during this lockout whether it lasts a week or a year. And I’m keeping all of the most meaningful parts of baseball during this lockout. I just won’t include Major League Baseball for a while.
In the era of streaming I can watch a ton of college games on TV. Thanks to the 4 year old I have the Disney bundle which includes ESPN+ and I started watching baseball last weekend. Not quite the same thing as knowing all the players and who I like and don’t like, but enjoyable.
College ball is also a bit of a different game that I find exciting. There are fewer strikeouts in college baseball. More balls in play. A little more action on the base paths. And just like Spring Training, a chance to put on my GM hat to look for that future star.
For us diehards, having a game in the background just makes life better in a way that is impossible to describe. It just feels right somehow. A college game on a Saturday afternoon will do for now. At some point I’ll want the real thing, but it is March.
Yes, I’m fortunate to live in Orange County and have several top notch college programs to follow. And I plan on visiting all of them. But if I wasn’t, I’d be back to attending minor league games like I did as a kid growing up outside of Bakersfield. Minor league schedules kick off in about a month and there’s probably a team near you.
Smaller stadiums, mascots, family friendly atmosphere. There’s a lot to like about minor league baseball. If I lived near any of the California League ballparks that’s where I’d head. In fact, I’ll probably hit one anyway when we visit friends out in Murrieta.
Some of my favorite childhood memories are of sweating at that park in Bakersfield. Me and my grandma in the stands, my sister and younger cousins playing on the playground at the end of the stands. I know I saw Piazza, Karros, Martinez and a host of others. I don’t remember the games much, but I remember what was important: sitting next to my Grandma. I’d give anything for another one of those days.
So I’ll make one of those days for my son. Maybe some nieces or nephews.
Look, I can’t wait to see the greatness of Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout on the field again. I can’t wait to see Thor blaze a fastball by a hitter. But I can’t control when that will happen.
What I can control is how I move forward for the time being and what I do with the time I’m not spending at the Big A. I’m the Dad who loves to take his son to a game, the uncle who brings his nieces and nephews, the son who loves sitting next to his parents for an afternoon at the yard, the friend who uses time at the ballpark to catch up and bond. And I love all of it.
I can be all of those without Major League Baseball. And until it returns I will be.
The truly important parts of baseball aren’t locked out. And I’m going to enjoy them.
Good thoughts Jeff – thanks for writing them out.
i’m fine for now and i’ll continue to be fine as the NHL season keeps going. my youngest daughter is now 20 and we had a great time at the Kings game this week. She’s a student at ASU and we’ll catch some baseball games there this year i think.
March Madness, and college baseball too – F1 will be starting, Masters, etc too, but in summer there’ll be a huge whole if they don’t get it settled – that’s when i will feel it most. And it just seems like another season similar to 2020 – shortened and starting in June.
As for the Angels and MLB, when they come back, i will too. at my age and as ingrained as they are, i know by now there’s no walking away from this team and this game. And minor league camp is open – i need to get up there in the next day or two to check it out.
and over the last 50 years, there’s been plenty of strikes across all major sports and its just part of the landscape. unfortunately.
Well they killed my second and final attempt to go to spring training. So while I’m not likely to give up my 10 game pass since as you said going to games is always going to be a part of my life, there is certainly some long term cost to their short sighted nonsense.
Right on Jeff! I find college football and basketball waaaay more entertaining than the professional leagues. For baseball, I really enjoy the watching the regionals and the World Series, just will need to start earlier this yea catching games. Maybe we can hook up for some Anteater action!
For sure. Email me: my name underscore 1976 at Hotmail.
I work about a mile from UCI. Been meaning to catch a game there for years. Now I will.
I’m in that area too. Sounds like a fun idea!
As absolute emperor of my own life I think the most important thing is that I be entertained. If the MLB fails me then it’s time to send Vashti off to the horse farm and find Esther. There are about 200 other ways for me to enjoy a few hours of free time. Hell, half the games I watch are so boring that it’s pretty easy to beat baseball as entertainment.
I’m sure I’ll still watch baseball with my family, maybe put on a game while I do something else, and if the team is in the post season hunt I’m sure I’ll watch more, but I don’t owe MLB baseball any special allegiance. Any “me and my dad” feelings I have are all manufactured by me. I don’t owe the MLB those either. I can get the same memories on a hike, at a Gauchos baseball game, at a demolition derby or playing a card game. Both sides of the MLB are treating us like they’re Rick James and our name is Bitch because they know we’ll all get all gushy inside when games start again.
I mean, even MNT is missing it. No Mike. What is important for the future MLB players is keeping ME happy, because if you don’t someone else will.
But I strongly encourage everyone to tell Rick James he’s cool but he can also f*** off if he’s gonna ask us to let him and his friends poop on our collective chest. Make a commitment to yourself. Go to half the games you used to. Don’t buy a jersey or hat this year. Bring some snacks to the park and skip the beer when you go. Hell, I wish I had the clout to organize a weekend, say a month after the season actually starts so they can’t blame any “start of season” issues, where NO ONE shows up to any games for a weekend. A date on the calendar where the MLB and MLBPA both know everyone’s gonna do it and when those 3 days come they play in front of 3000 clueless foreign tourists and they all know why. We may not dump the sport all together, but we can let the MLB sleep on the coach for a couple days.
Now. I haven’t given a shit about college basketball, unless the Gauchos are in or a guy I know is playing, in years and years. But I’m gonna go read up on who’s who before the tourney starts. I’ll enjoy the Madness, and I doubt I’ll miss Spring Training all that much. MLB baseball can go find some other hoe to whisper “but you and your dad love me baby…” into. The only emotional hold these assholes have on me is the one I let them have.
Until today I would have never thought about reassessing my love for Baseball. I coached for over 40 years, umpired over 30 years, played until 42 years old (Men’s softball at the end.), but played 2 years of College (Jr.). Now that the game is not the same will I give it up? I just don’t know the answer. I gave up the NBA, and NFL is only exciting during the Playoffs. Gave up College Football. But Baseball is hard for me to walk away from, harder than College Basketball or Curling (lol). But, truth be known I am not the fan I was.
I specialized with teaching hitting and infield fielding. What I taught in hitting involved teaching situations in the count, pitcher type, recognizing what to do with hands, adjust in the box, etc. Today every AB by 90% of MLB players is the same of every swing. Fielding is completely different now from set up to throwing.
I can say that the evolution in the game is somewhat more predictable and less entertaining than in the past. I for one do not like the rule changes much, but, it cannot be avoided. Evolution? Yep I guess so, but it sure sucks.
After about 50 years of following the Angels and baseball, I feel like I am finally ready to give it up. I gave up the other sports I followed decades ago, but I held onto baseball.
The difference between your situation and mine is that I don’t have anyone to share it with anymore. I would take my daughter to the local university to watch their softball team play. That was fun, but my daughter is all grown up now and has no interest in sports. My father-in-law was a big sports fan. In the middle of a Dodger-Angel ST game, we sat behind home plate when Manny Ramirez came crashing into the catcher just as Bobby Abreu’s throw came in, and it felt like Ramirez tumbled right into our laps, we were so close to the action.
That was fun, but my father-in-law passed away several years ago.
Following baseball alone just isn’t that much fun. It makes it easy to see how dumb it is. How much luck is involved. How much greed there is. How stupidly angry the fans get. How illogical it all is.
Like, for example, how people are angry at the cheating PED users and at David Ortiz for getting elected into the HoF, but everyone is fine with someone like Yadier Molina going into the HoF even though he cheated practically every inning he played when he framed the pitches to trick the umpire into thinking that a ball was really a strike, which led to the Cardinals winning games they should have lost, and which led to opposing players having weaker offensive stats which led to them losing arbitration cases and bringing home less money than they deserved.
But is it really worth it to spend time thinking about any of this?
The other thought that came to me after I finished reading your piece was that it almost sounded like a metaphor for what’s going on in Ukraine. You write about how the people with power have come to destroy our sport, but if they fire missiles at our buildings, they still won’t be able to destroy our spirit. And we will fight to preserve what is ours. We will go to college games and minor league games, our resistance will be strong.
Which is why you chose the photo of the Bruin player whose helmet resembles the Ukrainian flag, perhaps.
You give me too much credit with colors. I used the picture of the Bruin because the piece talks about going to college games.
It sucks you don’t have a baseball companion. I’d gladly host you for a game.
Awesome jester Jeff and I hope he goes for it.
Me too. BWA has forgotten more about the Angels than I know.
Right there with you BWA. Not sure I am ‘done’ but I am definitely far less interested. This current lockout and the vitriol between the two sides has made me reevaluate what baseball really means to me and my life – particularly how the game has changed in the last 15 years.
When do the fans get to lock baseball out? I am ready.
Regarding the game changing over the last 15 years, I struggle with that too. I think this is my old man moment, but the number of strikeouts has increased so much that baseball really is a different game than the one I started watching in the late 80s. I miss the action of the balls in play.
Yes. For all the good sabremetrics did in helping us realize who was a great player, it also did a lot of the harm to the game.
Is he a great player?
Best year 14-9 in 2016
Right there with you ’71.
Major League Baseball. Making sure old white men know they don’t give a shit about them since 2010.
Old White Men. Still the only large group of people who still give much of a shit about Major League Baseball.
As much as I don’t care at all about all of the puffy old complaints about how the game is played now and self important insights from my fellow failed high school players about how a guy who has made it to the show needs to adjust his approach at the plate, the MLB should really give more than two shits about keeping 55+ year old white men at least a little happy because all the sucking up to everyone else may have broadened their base a little, but not all that much.