Prior to attending a minor league baseball game recently, I learned about racing events that occur at certain ballparks:
“Baseball is so schlocky,” I said after viewing a YouTube video of the Presidents with their oversized heads teetering along the perimeter of the field. “No other professional sport has anything like this.”
“That’s not true,” my husband replied. “They throw octopuses onto the ice in hockey.”
After learning that, indeed, there is a Legend of the Octopus, I still expressed skepticism: “Could you imagine a whole bunch of sausages running around on a football field?”
“Football has cheerleaders,” my husband retorted.
The mascot was busy at the minor league baseball game. Not only did Rhubarb the Reindeer hustle around the stadium with a flag at the start of the game, but he also came out in boxing regalia at one point and, later, wearing a dress shirt and slacks, “performed” a Talking Heads song.
A few rows behind us a man with a voice rattling with gravel shouted at the players:
This is baseball, not first base ball!
His son started shouting similar things at the players. When we turned around to see who they were, we realized that the higher pitched voice did not come from his son; it came from his wife.
When the 7th inning came around, we all stood up and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in different keys. I then ate some Cracker Jack.
I wondered if
all this schlock these rituals are meant to appease our short attention spans. Ball 1, ball 2, strike 1… the man with the gravel in his throat shouts unsolicited advice, people get up to buy hot dogs and beer, the bugle calls “Charge!” It’s hard to wait. We want stuff to happen.
Then I wondered if these rituals give us simple comfort while everything else changes. Even if my boss doesn’t give me enough time or credit for the work I do or my wife is angry at me for reasons I think are ridiculous or my kid is not meeting my academic expectations or my friends are worried I have a drinking problem or my boyfriend has hit me twice this week or I lost all of my savings at the casino or my sister died in a car crash last month…
… at least I know that I can caterwaul “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” in the 7th inning, Rhubarb the Reindeer will dance on top of the dugout, and the pierogies will race.