Game 7 of the World Series was the first complete televised baseball game I watched in 2016. It happened because of a magical little accident in which I came home to an empty, quiet house with some takeout food and was able, for a few hours, to do exactly what I wanted to do which if you have a family you know is pretty much impossible and never happens. Because of this, I was already predisposed to enjoying Game 7.
The first thing I noticed was Fox’s obsession with cutting away after each pitch to show the affluent people in the expensive seats doing things like pacing, fiendishly manipulating the bills of their ballcaps, and generally looking stressed.
I texted my friend that seeing millionaires looking miserable with stress actually had an oddly soothing effect on me and that Fox Television should consider a spinoff possibility here.
Live baseball is tailor made for conversation. It’s like going to a coffee shop with a friend in that it’s an “event” and something is technically “going on” but there’s not actually much going on. It allowed me a bunch of time to have a bunch of fun conversations with people I like, nuggets of which included:
- Me observing that Yan Gomes (Cleveland catcher) sounds like a name from a Danish fairy tale.
- The existence of a Chicago player named Baez led to a quip about how folk singer Joan Baez could have done a better job of bunting in a particular situation, which led to a long exchange about Baez, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon, which ended with my friend observing – “It’s late, we’re punchy.”
- A conversation about Bob Newhart because he is a Cubs fan and also awesome. Also: I feel like Bob Newhart has already been around for like 150 years, and I hope he’s around for 150 more.
- Some deep appreciation-for and noticing-of Aroldis Chapman’s neck tattoos what with Fox’s other obsession (ultra-slow-mo-replays).
- The realization, about Theo Epstein, that he looks exactly like you would expect a Wunderkind Ivy League Man Who Has Gotten a Little Older to look – wife, kid, watch, everything – and that if there was a “Central Casting” for this kind of character, he would be right out of it. Epstein has zero neck tattoos.
- The fact that even though Pete Rose’s hair dye-job looks like somebody took Pete Rose by the ankles and dipped him into a vat of dark brown paint, Pete Rose can do no wrong because I grew up in the 80s and he’s Pete (expletive) Rose. Sub-observation: How everybody on that Fox Baseball pre-post-game crew obviously colors their hair and how, as a culture, we’re obsessively opposed to aging.
- Regarding that crew: On it is represented two of the biggest scandals (betting – Rose, steroids – A-Rod) in modern baseball history and it’s no secret that both men pretty much royally screwed up their handling of those scandals. The fact that now those two guys are on mainstream baseball television and that, as a culture, we accept this, is proof of the fact that our capacity for grudge-holding might be smaller than I previously thought. Sub-realization: How weird it is that A-Rod is already on TV and also how weird it is that he’s actually really good on TV.
- Regarding aging: My friend texting me something about Joe Buck’s “hair plug obsession,” with the exhortation to “Google it during the rain delay.”
All of this observing/texting/conversating, in and of itself, would have made the game totally worth it, except that at some point the game itself took over which, as an aging sports fan, is an experience that is in increasingly short supply.
The thing that maybe sucks the most about getting older is the fact that very few things can actually captivate and thrill me anymore just because I’ve already experienced so many things.
If you watched the game you know how captivating it was and how it’s everything that sports is supposed to be. It’s everything that the NFL hasn’t been in the last few years, being that the NFL has turned into a bloated, overexposed showcase for the officiating crews with a little bit of actual football thrown in between penalties and league scandals.
The best thing about Game 7 was that at a certain point all the quippiness stopped and for a few precious moments there was nothing ironic about the game and nothing ironic about me or my friends. We were totally earnest. We were boys staring at a screen, waiting for something amazing to happen.