It’s the nature of the game, as New York-centric writers focused upon national TV ratings fail to grasp. See, I don’t just watch baseball. I watch the Boston Red Sox. (To me, the MLB Extra Innings TV package is the greatest bargain in sports.) It’s not a once-a-year spectacle. It’s an imaginative commitment, like reading “War and Peace” one chapter at a time.
Not to go all literary on you. Baseball players are jocks, not English professors. Most highfalutin literary appreciations of the game go right by them.
I’m talking about the daily grind of baseball: the interplay of character and personality, and the thousand-and-one strategic and tactical decisions that make the game so uniquely absorbing to players and serious fans.
But incomprehensible to the once-a-year viewer who hasn’t followed the story line.
Economically, it’s in local broadcasts where loyalties abide and the game thrives. The national game of the week is an anachronism, dating to when it was the only baseball on TV. Me, I’m watching NESN. It follows that many fans lose interest in postseason play unless their team’s involved.
Pretty much like Mahler and his fellow provincials at the New York Times.
Gene Lyons is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.