As I entered the house, I could hear the familiar sounds of baseball. The Fox Saturday Game of the Week was playing on the living room television. Two things struck me. Those in the house were watching the game, and they cared enough to actually talk about it. The realization was subtle but defining.
I’ve written many times about baseball’s popularity. I’ve discussed the prominence of football and what baseball needs to do to recover. But here, in this house, I finally realized how far the sport had fallen. This was the picture-perfect All-American summer afternoon. Just not from the present. This was an afternoon made from a time long ago. A full family (grandparents, parents, children, friends, and pets) was gathered at the house for a barbecue. And on the television was baseball. The conversation ranged from play-off hopes to free agent signings. There was talk of misplays in the field and gaudy offensive stats. The day was inherently American with the summer sub burning through the final hours of the day, hot dogs and hamburgers begging for ketchup and cheese, and baseball. And that’s what made the realization so powerful.
I turned to my wife as we left and said, “you don’t see that anymore.” The “that” I was talking about was people watching America’s pastime, talking about it, and caring. There is not much difference between what went on there and what was going on in houses across the country. People were enjoying a Saturday afternoon in the waning moments of summer. They were enjoying family and watching sports. But for most, the sport on TV was college football.
I often get lost in the online articles and magazine articles. I get lost in the discussions I search for through an electronic medium. It’s easy to forget that in reality the water cooler talk is rarely about baseball. In most cities around the country, the baseball season ended weeks ago. And in all the places where this could have been more obvious, I realized it instead in a house where baseball was prominently displayed in crystal clear high definition.
The surprise was the most telling part. I shouldn’t be surprised to find people gathered ’round for a day of baseball and conversation. I should have expected it. But I didn’t, and that’s a shame.
Whatever changes will be made need to be made soon. Baseball is losing ground and soon won’t have any footing left. Let’s watch baseball, enjoy family and friends, and turn what is quickly becoming a nostalgic moment into an everyday moment.