A Letter about Baseball to My 11-Year-Old Self

Dear Younger Lucas,

Listen, I get it. You’re one of probably 17 Toronto Blue Jays fans in Maine, and you’ve had a rough go of it recently. Everyone else is pumped about the Red Sox finally breaking the Curse. The Jays, foolishly, didn’t generate the budget room they needed to keep Carlos Delgado—the Puerto Rican Paragon himself. But I need you to listen closely, because with an extra decade in my/your pocket, I have something extremely important to tell you.

By 2015, you will come to a realization: even when your team is winning, watching baseball sucks.

Yes, theoretically, the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays are a fun team, boasting the probable MVP and a bunch of dudes who mash the ball, plus three pitchers with uniquely filthy stuff. And I see what you’re thinking, but no, it’s not Vernon Wells who’s the probable MVP. In fact, it’d be best if you temper your expectations with respect to Vernon. Temper them a lot.

The Jays will have the best team you can ever recall, since you just barely missed the glory days of Joe Carter. But you still won’t be able to enjoy watching them. So please, before you make the mistake of drifting further into the sad-sackitude of baseball fandom, let me tell you why you should reconsider.

1. The Slow Pace of Play Becomes a Kafkaesque Nightmare as Your Life Gets Busier

Have you started reading Kafka yet? I’m guessing probably not. Well, as you grow older and become more aware of your own mortality, you begin to lose patience with delays, especially those caused by incompetence and inefficiency. In some ways, that’s the beauty of Kafka; he can find humor in those spells of bureaucratic trudging, giving us an eagle-eye view of the stupidity and obstinacy inherent in our well-worn traditions. Through his writing, we can laugh at that which drives us up the wall in real life.

When you’re working a full-time job while trying to carve out a career and balance a social life on top of that, you’re a little on edge. A little impatient. So, hypothetically, when your team’s pitching coach comes out of the dugout to talk to the noodle-armed starter, just so that they can agree to intentionally walk the next batter, so then the actual manager can come out and bring in a reliever via The Verizon Wireless Call to the BullpenTM, but this pitcher can only throw to lefties effectively, and the opposing manager isn’t exactly sitting on his thumb and now calls in his righty pinch hitter, causing another pitching change—and then you realize that this is game 93 of one-hundred-sixty-goddamn-two…well, it’s a real pisser.

2. Joe Buck Is Still Around, And Tim McCarver’s Replacement Is Worse, Two Situations That Fit Your Punctured Belief In The Goodness of the World

The Internet, despite how vast and fully formed it seems to you, is actually pretty nascent. Still, based on informal polling of your dad, your brother, and that one Page 2 article, it seems that no one likes Joe Buck. You even tried exit polling Tim McCarver against an audio Magic 8-Ball (“Ask again later, Joe”), and while results were close, it’s pretty apparent that these two don’t have the greatest following.

And if they don’t improve at their jobs—if Buck doesn’t start showing vague amounts of emotion in his calls, and if McCarver doesn’t start, uh, even entertaining the idea of preparing for nationally televised broadcasts—then you’d think changes would be made. Especially when conditions are prime for a shift, with our nation getting swept up in rhetoric regarding hope and change in a few years.

But no. Buck has stayed on as the play-by-play man, and although McCarver is gone, he has been replaced by Harold Reynolds, which is like replacing a broken vacuum with a vacuum that hums constantly and believes pitcher wins are somehow a meaningful stat. Perhaps these actions and inactions are disappointing, but to someone who’s observed the way the world works over the past decade, it’s but a conscript in the ceaseless cavalcade of unfulfilled promises we call life.

3. Unwritten Rules Will Grow Irritating, As You Become Exponentially Angrier With Age

In Little League, no one really talks about unwritten rules. Most of them have to do with beaning hitters, and since Little Leaguers are more inclined to bawl than they are to brawl, there’s no need for retaliation.

But holy hell, these faux rules are important in the majors, and as your cynicism grows, you’ll begin to feel that the only people swearing by unwritten rules are illiterate to begin with. Not to mention that sports talk will devolve into Jerry Springer’s roided-up cousin, and discussion of unwritten rules will start to dominate the airwaves.

Which, by itself, probably isn’t the worst thing. Except that in your postgraduate life, your emotions will be oscillating between general ennui and a tornado of misdirected rage, and you’ll be liable to violently pop off at anyone in your vicinity who uses the phrase “disrespect the game.”

4. The Randomness of Baseball Playoffs Will Only Reinforce Your Burgeoning Realization That Life Is Not A Meritocracy

You’re probably aware, because it said so in Moneyball, that the MLB playoffs are super random. And they’ve gotten even worse since then. Now there are one-game “series,” and even the goddamn Royals are thriving.

So, yeah, it’s a total crapshoot.

But honestly, there’s nothing out of the ordinary here. By this age, you’ll have seen inequality; you’ll have seen hard work go unrewarded; you’ll have seen Lady Luck tilt careers toward good poles and bad based on nothing stronger than her whims. Is there a way to get ahead in life, really? Or are we merely spinning on this hamster wheel, hoping to cluster together enough bloop hits until we maybe, somehow, miraculously, unlock the cage?

Such a scenario seems utterly unpalatable. I know you look to baseball as an escape, but listen: it is no such thing. It is a microcosm of everything wrong in this world, an unyielding gadfly whose inconsistencies and inequities have driven many before us to the brink of delirium, and will certainly continue to do so after we expire. It is a habitat for crimes against humanity, and you will unburden yourself immeasurably by never watching the sport again.

Also, best-of-five in the Divisional Round is complete crap.

So give up hope now, Lucas. Give up hope, while there’s still time, and watch hockey instead. They have 3-on-3 overtime now, and it’s pretty sweet.

To clarify: yes, the NHL lockout did end.

Love,

Older Lucas

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Lucas Hubbard is a humorist, fiction writer, and fan of any team with “Blue” in its name. You should follow him on Twitter.

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