I spend long stretches of time ’round the midnight hour on any given night watching endless streams of Major League Baseball clip montages. Some of them are year-in-review type videos from last season. Some of them have Willie Mays in them. Though the game has undoubtedly changed, to me baseball is baseball.
Which makes me wonder why I am so distressed at the growing possibility that an entire MLB season may never happen. And if it doesn’t happen, then I wonder what it would be like if Major League Baseball just never came back.
I don’t think that’s how this will all go down, but just what if?
I had a dream a couple of nights ago in which I was at the Field of Dreams in Dyersville, Iowa fielding grounders from my wheelchair. I was flipping my chair over to make a play, and flipping right back up as if it were nothing. A reminder, perhaps that baseball is a simple game of the people. It grew from an absolutely non-formal kids game, to a leisure activity for working class men with written rules, to organized but non-professional clubs, to the professional leagues like we have today.
Even though it came from humble beginnings, a part of me feels like in today’s world, were the professional game suddenly removed from our national consciousness – the TV broadcasts, the merchandising, the obscenely expensive and flashy stadiums – that baseball might be like the ageless philosophical question about a tree that falls in the woods with no one there to hear it.
Another part of me knows very well that even without the pros, baseball would still be a thing, just on a very local level. And we’d all develop our own private histories of the game in our own little pockets of the world. And maybe that would make it more special to us. More intimate. I know many would feel that way about the game if only money were taken out of the equation.
With that in mind, I recently made the bold proclamation on my personal Facebook page that I was starting a new Major League Baseball and that there would be no salaries. I got a couple of guys signed up so far. I’ll keep you posted.
I’m really just speculating, but I can see that the NBA and NHL already appear to be on their way back to “game on!” And if MLB can’t return to the field just as gracefully, then it will not bode well for the professional game. Maybe there would still be some independent leagues around. With the promise of fame and fortune in the big leagues out of the question at least we’d know the players were in it for the love of the game.
Anyway baseball, in the form that we’ve come to know and love it down the generations, will be back. I know, because Terrence Mann told me so in “Field of Dreams.” He said:
The one constant through all the years Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.
Baseball will most definitely be back.