As Terrance Mann said, the one constant throughout all the years has been baseball. It’s in our DNA. It’s woven into the fabric of America. It’s more than just our national pastime; it teaches us everything from our concept of fairness to what is good in life.
And, with so much of America fraying in one way or another, it’s not at all by accident that baseball once again comes to our rescue. While the culture wars rage in Hollywood and the NFL, and politics threatens to rip the country apart, baseball is there to bring us back together.
In today’s society, it’s easy to be a cynic. With so many institutions seeming to fail, and so many leaders succumbing to their inner foibles, it’s easy to doubt the intentions of all things and all people.
However, there is one thing in which I have never lost faith—that there are baseball gods and that they are good. Like Linus and the Great Pumpkin, I have never lost my faith in them and their watchful presence of the game.
To me it seems easy to believe in them. How else can one explain the perfect balance of the game? Imagine if the bases were 100 feet apart instead of 90 feet . . . would there be more hits or fewer? Imagine if the ball weighed 2 ounces more than it does . . . would it be possible to hit homeruns? The symmetry and beauty of the game is so perfect that it couldn’t happen just by chance. No single person could have developed such a perfect balance.
And with that in mind, I’d like to point out how they have been bringing us as a nation back together, healing the country. There’s no doubt that bringing the World Series to Houston, after the horrible devastation wrought by hurricane Harvey, helped balance out the year for their fans.
But that wasn’t the only time this decade that baseball shined as a tremendous force of good. Just a few years ago, after the Boston Marathon bombing, baseball brought the championship back to that city to help it heal.
In fact, baseball in the 21st Century is having a golden age, as measured by the turnover in teams in the World Series. Of 30 current Major League teams, 19 of them have made it to the World Series. That’s over 60%! And, of those teams who made it to the World Series, 12 teams, or 40%, held the Commissioner’s Trophy by winning it all. That is an incredible amount of change. And with that change, comes hope for fans everywhere.
As fans, we’ve seen historic losing streaks end in this century. The Cubs, Red Sox, and White Sox—all long suffering fanbases—finally got to see a championship. The Angels and Astros both won their first championships in their history. The Rays and Rockies both made their first appearances in the World Series, and the Indians nearly ended their drought.
It’s not like only the large market teams have won the World Series. Through proper drafting and key international signings, the Astros put together an incredibly dominant team. Three years ago, fans saw the same thing from the Royals. Sure, there have been teams composed heavily of free agents, but, small market teams have had success. Objectively, the system is working. And the series that they have been playing have been some of the most fun to watch for all fans.
This momentum seems to be translating to the fans. After years of doom and gloom predictions, last month an interesting poll came out showing baseball as more popular than football. According to the Remington Survey Group, 30% of all adults listed baseball as their favorite sport whereas only 25% of all adults listed football. The spread between the sports—5%–was greater than the margin of error in the survey of 2.8%. Baseball hasn’t outpolled football in decades, and was a pleasant reminder of what is the true national pastime. As a diehard baseball fan, it was great to see that baseball is returning to its rightful place in our culture.
As we once again head into the Hot Stove season, undoubtedly fans will argue and debate about trades and signings for their team. Some will see what their team does and brilliant; others will predict the demise of their franchise. As is the case with all things, it will be easy to cave to the forces of cynicism.
But as we go through the Hot Stove season, it’s important to remember one thing. And that is that no matter how much we debate and speculate, we will never be able to predict what will happen next year. As baseball in the 21st Century has proven, all teams, and all fanbases have reason for hope. With so much disfunction in society, it’s good to know that there’s one constant where we can turn for hope.
And that’s why it’s baseball for the win.