From Opening Day and beyond
Baseball is back and it's changing
A man tries valiantly to start the wave. He screams that we’re no fun. Masks don’t exist here. Pandemic? What pandemic? Alcohol exists though and it’s flowing. A woman punches a cop.
This is Opening Day in the cheap seats.
Baseball is back and it is, indeed, in flux. It’s changing. Is it evolving? Depends who you ask.
Before the Toronto Blue Jays took the field against the Texas Rangers on Opening Day, the SkyDome (sorry Rogers) was treated to a lightshow that wouldn’t have been out of place at some of the biggest concerts in the world. The hype videos felt modern and watchable. The team took to the field looking crisp and ready for baseball.
Opening Day is not my favourite flavour of baseball. I go because I’m starved, but it’s not my meal of choice. It’s raucous, unhinged and wild.
I don’t condemn them; baseball is designed to be ingested and enjoyed in a variety of ways. But if Opening Day is baseball’s triple espresso, full of excitement and jubilation, my ideal baseball experience is closer to decaf. A weekday baseball game is my zen.
On this day with these fans though? I was ready for a rush.
This isn’t your father’s baseball and it damn sure is not your grandfather’s baseball. The sport is changing. We have light shows, concerts, $20 beers, pitch clocks, ghost runners and shifts. It’s okay, old man.
The game itself, played against the Rangers, played out in a way few would have expected, despite the predictable scoreline. Opening Day starter José Berríos lasted all of one out, giving up three hits, two walks and four runs. The Blue Jays carried a 7-0 deficit into the fourth inning ultimately settling for a 10-8 victory.
Toronto is a city that loves baseball. Not in the showy way that other cities do; they don’t beat you over the head with it. The logo isn’t nearly as iconic as the NY that has encompassed Yankees baseball or the red B that has emblazoned Red Sox hats for a century. It’s a settled love.
The city is more passionate, admittedly, about the Raptors. Championship teams do that. Sports that focus on their athletes and create an environment that is welcoming to all communities also do that.
But if you’re on the subway or in line for a coffee, the baseball talk is there. People still love to talk about batting averages, about who’s curveball is curving and who’s slider is sliding.
Sometime soon I’ll write more passionately about Joey Votto’s venture into social media, but for now I’ll leave you with two of the more interesting posts from the quirky uncle of baseball . Baseball and poetry; what else could we ask for?
What I’m reading:
In general, I’m not one to re-read books. In my mind, there’s only so much time left and I’ve got a lot of books to read before I go. However, if a book is really good I’ll take the time to read it again. Lisa Robertson’s The Baudelaire Fractal is one of those books. It’s weird, nonsensical and perhaps the most beautifully written book I’ve ever read. The language is rich like a fine win or a double chocolate dessert; I read it in sips and nibbles.
What I’m listening to:
Perhaps it’s because I just finished Yellowstone, but I’m very much in an alt country phase. Lucinda Williams has been a revelation as of late. Her music is heartfelt, thoughtful and doesn’t follow the conventional patterns that make so much modern country music unlistenable. Lucinda came to me through Waxahatchee’s cover of “Fruits of My Labor” and I’ve become a bit obsessed of late.
What I’m watching:
I’ve watched nothing of substance since our last check-in. However, I did see that a new documentary of hip-hop icons Cypress Hill is out now and I’m excited to watch that in the coming days.