Saturday, February 14, 2015

The stories I want to see this spring

I'm wearing my "civilian uniform" today. It's a Reds hoodie that I pretty much wear every Saturday and Sunday during winter unless I have big plans that require something somewhat dressier. You wouldn't know it from the temperatures, but we are nearly out of winter. I've been thrilled by the fact that it is light out the entire outside duration of my trip home from work each day. No, I mean it - there's something poetic in the way the sky shines in the evening hours during this time of year. You instinctively know winter's almost over, even when you're shivering and the wind is finding every tiny space between the threads that make up your clothing. Even now, at 3:30pm, there is a certain brightness to the world that stirs the embers of excitement within you. Rebirth is coming - flowers, warmth, sprightliness, and baseball.

Right now, the trucks have descended upon the towns that will soon serve as hosts to baseball's finest, and we're repeating the same exciting cliches about pitchers and catchers reporting and sunflower seeds being unloaded. It's nice for cliches to be exciting for once, although I do wish the sportswriters would at least make an attempt to find different angles for their articles. No one wants to hear about so and so being in "the best shape of my life" anymore or how Fatty McFatfat needs a new nickname thanks to his off season workout. You know what would be great? If, instead of writing four paragraphs on how great a guy looks, ask him the particulars about his off season - what he lifted, how much he ran, where he ran, what he ate...heck, get a recipe from him. That's interesting. The rest we can see with our own eyes because it's 2015 and cameras are everywhere.

What else do I want to see besides different angles of the same spring cliches?

How about something on the science of the sport using current examples drawn from Spring Training games? Or maybe a day in the life of a Spring Training player? Or how a star player did in Spring Training during his minor league camp days? What about wandering from the pressbox to interview actual fans who pay - not get paid - to watch baseball? Or stories about the players' childhoods? Regarding this last one, I am motivated by Andrew McCutchen's recent post in the Players Tribune about the disadvantages children in low income families have when it comes to playing baseball. Why does a player have to write this story when people who get paid to write aren't doing it?

I'd like to read more about Spring Training itself, its origins, what teams played in what cities at what times, stories about old players from bygone days, all within the context of today. Connect people to the past. Too many Americans have lost their sense of identity in our age of Charmucks on every corner. The cities we live in give us our identities, and the past is definitely part of identity, even if it happened before we were born.

What I really want to see is articles that go beyond this one line/paragraph break/quote stuff that a computer program could produce. The thing is that too many sportswriters are severely lacking in the prose capacity, whether due to inability, a perception that beautiful prose is too flowery or too old-fashioned, or an editor's preference. There's a reason everyone raves about Posnanski's writing - people want to read him because he writes well. I realize baseball has been plagued with a decidedly anti baseball-as-poetry mentality by a certain numbers-oriented segment of the population, but why cater to them persistently? The number of people who enjoy baseball beyond the numbers greatly exceeds that of the militant sabrbully crowd. (Note: You can enjoy numbers and the beauty of the game without calling people stupid for thinking that pitcher wins matter. It's a small but vocal minority of the stat-minded crowd who give others a bad name.) To write well requires reading, and not just non-fiction sports books. Pick up The Sun Also Rises if you feel fiction isn't "manly" enough for you.

We're all tired of the same old cliches, predictions, and projections, that we see every spring. Give us something with more substance; god knows our appearance-focused country could use more of that.

1 comment:

NatsLady said...