The richest kid in class is the kid whose parents gave them money for the Scholastic Book Fair. I remember taking the little “catalog” home and asking my mom for money. She’d always complain at first. “Don’t you have enough books? Do you ever do anything but read?” Well mom, no, I don’t have enough books. And yes, I do other things but I’d rather be reading.
The book fair was the most wonderful time. I’d browse the selections for almost as long as my teachers allowed. I’d make note of what interested me and how much each thing was so that I could ultimately decide how I was going to spend my book allowance. When I’d come home with my purchases, I’d enthusiastically discuss each new book with my mom. Little did she know she was slowly creating a monster.
I have a problem. I buy and desire to buy entirely too many books about baseball. I have stacks of books on every possible surface of my apartment – some of them unread – and I continue to buy books. My Scholastic Book Fair shopping strategy has now turned into filling my online shopping cart with all of the books that interest me, and then looking at the total for a couple of days before removing a couple or taking a deep breath and just buying them all.
You see, no one ever told me that the joy of the book fair would turn into the agony of adult responsibility and trying not to blow money on books. No one ever told me that I’d have moments where I “fall down the rabbit hole” and need to read every baseball book ever. No one ever told me that I’d spend the rest of my life trying to replicate the high of the book fair.
As I feel like I’ve repeatedly demonstrated in this space, my friends, I have only so much room in my head left before I start losing more than my brain can take in. I am old, you see, and have had to learn how to keep children from accidentally dying by drinking something they shouldn’t or putting a paperclip into a thing where it wasn’t meant to go.
I have had to learn about My Little Ponies and Fortnites and the various apps on phones and tablets that allow my kids to stay in contact with their friends any time they want. Syncing my phone with my laptop with my tablet took me the better part of a day. It’s a scary world for us old people, and we have limited capacity to adjust to it, even though most of us know that we have to.
I bring this up not (just) because it’s fun for you to laugh at my pain. I bring it up because the Seattle Mariners sent the following tweet out yesterday:
The mother-effing gall.
Look, your ballpark was named Safeco for the first 20 years it existed. I learned that name. I committed it to memory. I wrote it on my heart!
And now you just go and throw this dumb corporate name away in favor of some other dumb corporate entity. Well, I’m not having it. I became comfortably numb to Safeco a long time ago, and I demand to be allowed to stay that way. It may be obnoxious, but it’s the obnoxiousness that I’m used to.
I reject your stadium’s new name, Mariners. And yours, Giants. And yours, Cleveland. And yours, White Sox. I reject the practice of renaming stadii outright. Life is too goddamn short for me to have to learn new things all the goddamned time. I’m already struggling to keep up so much with new stats like DRC+, which I know is important.
But this is not important. I’m not going to remember which telecom company sponsors which park, and which insurance company sponsors the field within the park. It’s overwhelming and I’m begging you, stop making this harder than it has to be. And by “this,” I mean both following the game and getting old.
If you happen to find yourself at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport soon, you can enjoy the employee art show happening in the C gates. I say this without irony: two hundred feet or so of art on display in a glass-bordered, airy hallway is pretty magnificent, even without the backdrop of a 3 a.m. wake-up call and six hours of being trapped in various metal tubes hurtling through the sky.
The art is both cased in glass and hung on the walls, completed by active employees and employees’ family members, and entails media of all kinds: photography, paintings, drawings, pottery, fiber arts (including a crocheted Klingon hat), and sculpture, including my favorite piece: a truly lovely three-dimensional mosaic-work cello. To orient frequent fliers (or hungry travelers), it’s only a little ways away from the Twins Grill, a Minnesota Twins-themed hub for burgers and the like.
To my frustration, an art exhibit near a baseball-themed airport restaurant was as close as I got to baseball on Opening Weekend, outside of sneaking in some highlights and scoreboard watching and between-panels texting. I spent Wednesday through Sunday embroiled in the Associated Writing Programs Conference, an annual conclave of creative writers and editors and teachers (and people who are all three). Last year, the conference was earlier in March and, thoughtfully, in Tampa, so my spring break turned multipurpose. But no such luck this year. I found myself, as I often find myself, feeling merely adjacent to the room I want to stand inside, exacerbated by realities of time and space: I can’t be in two places at once. I can’t be a full-time this while also being a full-time that. There is no excess of 100 percent.
The resultant effect, then, is longing, which is also part and parcel with the conference as a whole: 14,000 people seeking victories that they cannot ultimately force. You can make the very best manuscript you’re capable of making, but you cannot force someone to publish it, cannot demand an award, cannot cause people to buy the book. If you’ve got the funds you can self-publish, you can pay for advertising—you can do a lot of stuff, I guess, but it’s not the same thing. This is also fandom and athletics; for all that sports types talk about things like “the will to win” and “who wanted it more,” quantifying those things is utterly impossible. I don’t believe for a second that, objectively speaking, players who are ultimately more successful have fundamentally higher competitive drives or grit or will or whatever. There is practice, of course, and honing the craft—in sport as in art—and lots of things someone can do to get better, stay sharp, and so on. But a single player can’t control the world around them, can’t sign X teammates or prevent Y injuries. There’s too much luck and uncertainty outside of one person’s control, too much to boil down success into something as individual as desire.
Yet desire is there, all the same, stitching burrs into the seam between present reality and future hope. All this is to say I wanted to watch some baseball on Thursday and I didn’t; I had to make a choice about what I wanted more, or what I thought of as scarcity: the professional event only happens once a year. Baseball games happen…quite a lot more often than that. But it doesn’t shift the want to have both, the feeling that if I could just will it enough I could do everything.
Thank you for reading
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