Skip to content

Classically Fall

Baseball, as I’ve noted exhaustively in the past, is about coming home.

I didn’t coin the notion, but heard it first from a college professor who co-taught a course on the history and literature of the game. It stuck with me above other interpretations of this highly-interpreted subject. Sure, baseball is about America .. just as it’s about summer, and fathers and sons, and even more broadly, life . But in the end it’s a seasonal, long-ass haul with unpredictable ups and downs, involving way more losers than winners, slowly learned lessons, and rare, pointed insight that only starts to make itself available as the days get shorter and the nights long and cold. Where else would one choose to return after all of this, but to the safety of the womb, home-cooked meals, and unconditional love?

But, as the game points out, more often than not you won’t get back safely. In fact, you won’t even be allowed to leave home, and will only be granted a temporary shot at covering the bases before being relinquished once more to your spot on the bench, just below field level. Dominant, hard-nosed pitchers (think Roger Clemens) are a lot like some mothers in this respect. But I digress ..

Catchers, of all players, get to spend the most time closest to home – and it’s no coincidence that they’re also allowed the most protective equipment. A batting helmet and gloves might suffice, stepping up for the occasional Father’s Day or Thanksgiving Dinner, but if you’re going to be behind the plate pitch after pitch, some heavy armor is definitely in order. It’s no coincidence that the most violent collisions take place at and around home. When Pete Rose decapitated Ray Fosse at home plate to win the 1970 All Star game, it was more than a hard-nosed rockhead ending a promising young player’s career in its second season, and in an essentially meaningless contest. It was a metaphor for the game and life itself. If you’re going to put yourself in that position – standing with ball in hand, the last defense between home and all manner of life as it rounds third and attempts to return safely – you’re going to occasionally get what’s coming to you.

This notion, that baseball is about coming home, is also why I’m pulling for the Phillies in this year’s World Series. I have no strong connection to Philadelphia and am in fact now a resident of New York – so it might make more sense for me to back the Yankees. But there’s always been something about a large section of this great organization’s fans that I couldn’t quite stomach. Given that only a select percentage of the national population is born in New York City proper, and even more specifically in and around the Bronx, there are a dispropotionate number of folks out there blethering on about pinstripes, championships, and Yankee Pride. I chalk this up to that weakest of all human traits – the need to associate oneself with a winner, at all cost and even if you can’t muster the necessary prerequisites on your own. The price of such chosen association is immeasurable, but for the sake of argument let’s put it at $208,097,414.00 – the Yankee’s current payroll, excluding bonuses for a World Series victory.  For this number, you’re allowed to hitch yourself to Babe Ruth’s wagon; to hoist yourself atop CC Sabathia’s mighty shoulders and sustain the illusion that life is about dominance, victory, and having it your way. You’re in fact allowed the adjusted perspective that home is everywhere, and that you can always come back – even if you’re stuck somewhere, miles away from Duluth, Barstow, or New Jersey. It’s a nice idea, but personally I don’t think it’s what baseball is all about.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. heather wrote:

    the phils are a safe bet.

    Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  2. heather wrote:


    Thursday, April 22, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *