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May 18 2000: Baseball Time

Time’s an important concept in baseball. There’s no clock running, the games run long or short, the season is long, the post-season is even longer. Baseball has been around for a long time. Injured players spend a set amount of time on the DL, batters call time to throw off a pitcher.
It has been forever since I made an entry here, mostly because of time. Two things really–one, time pressure in the form of deadlines on other writing projects keeps me from simply writing for pleasure, which this is, and two, there’s actual baseball to occupy my time with. With at least four hours a night (must listen to the pregame and postgame shows, too, of course) devoted to my obsession, I don’t have a lot of time for anything else. And of course, with the actual ups and downs of the season to contend with, I’m not spending quite as much time pondering the abstractions of the game.

But tonight the Yanks are off and so am I. And so I’ll ponder the abstraction of baseball time.

When I was a kid, time seemed to take a lot longer. A year was a really long time. A week, even, was pretty long. An hour was forever, depending on what you were doing. As I get older, time shortens up. A year goes by in a blink. The only reason this makes me a little bit sad is that baseball games don’t seem to last as long.

I remember as a kid, going to see games, and it seeming like the game went on ALL DAY. This was great. It was more like spending a day at an amusement park than going to see a movie. We’d pack food, as if we were camping out. A trip to the ballpark was a big excursion, and when I was ten years old, I remember the games seeming endless. It was not because we were bored–far from it–it was like a different measure of time took over. An afternoon at the ballpark had plenty of time for a hot dog, an ice cream bar, a knish, plus the fried chicken and fruit and other goodies mom had brought. There was time to roam the stadium, exploring the ramps and souvenir stands and escalators. There was time to forget all about school–like we were on vacation. We never wanted them to end, either, except for the fact, of course, that if the game didn’t end, the Yankees couldn’t win.

They say the Yankees play slower games, on average, than any other team. (Well, all those big offensive rallies take a lot of time!) Thank goodness! Now that I’m a grown-up, those 3.5 hours (or however long it is) seems like a precious short time. Because the game can still make me forget school/work/deadlines, but all too soon, it’s over, and we’re waking up from the dream and back to reality. There’s just this brief window of time in which to bask in the baseball.

Remember twi-night doubleheaders? Those were the best. I know the players didn’t like them, but for me, that was the greatest. That really was an all day excursion. Dad liked to park in this tiny parking lot right near the giant Louisville Slugger (it’s not there anymore), and you had to get there early for that. So we’d be two hours early at least for the first game, then have that whole game, and then ANOTHER ONE. Gluttony. That’s what it was. We loved it.

So that’s why I like to go as early as possible. Because I just can’t get enough. I’m still standing in my seat until the first round of “New York, New York” is done. Anything to make it last just a little longer. Because baseball time, magical as it is, does come to an end.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

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