“The path to paradise begins in hell.” —Mr. Baseball, My Life and Memories, Volume 2: The Childhood Years (Book 2, Ages 3 through 5).
One of the perks of my occupation as a baseball historian is having the opportunity to attend important baseball games at no personal cost to myself. Through various obscure means, certain institutions offer to “pay my way,” as it were, allowing me to witness Our Nation’s Great Spectacle in person, without the twin distractions of preposterous advertisements and vapid commentary. Perhaps these institutions are trying to bribe me. Perhaps they send me to the Ball Park in hopes that I will use my prestigious titles and vast influence to assure the American People (whom I have never cared for) that certain rumors of war crimes, sex crimes, and various other crimes are simply rumors. Perhaps, dear reader. Perhaps. I am not certain. What I am certain of is that I recently attended Game 2 of the World Series, and what I witnessed will torment me for the rest of my life.
Here, reader. Come with me. Take my metaphorical hand and share in my waking nightmare.
Due to my assistant’s ineptitude, I was dropped in the parking garage instead of an entry point more suited to a man of my position. Drunken imbeciles honked and shrieked, apparently ecstatic about the dozens of traffic fatalities they had caused on their way to the Ball Park.
There is nothing more wretched than a baseball fan. I often dream of a Ball Park with sprawling glass fountains in place of seats. Water cascades from the upper reaches of the stadium and down towards the field, where Slam after Slam is smashed the fuck out of the park, witnessed only by the players themselves and the few men on this earth who’ve the intelligence and aesthetic sense to appreciate the true essence of the game. We sit atop a tower situated in the middle of the outfield. We see everything. Armed guards maintain a secure perimeter around the Ball Park 24 hours a day. They have orders to kill on sight anyone who would dare enter the vicinity of the Park. “Even the fans?” you ask. Yes! Of course! Especially the fans.
Once I arrived at the central concourse of the stadium, I found myself feeling a bit peckish. An unwashed street vendor approached me and attempted to sell me a “Pea Nut,” a sort of filthy bean housed inside a salted wooden case which one is expected to crack open with one’s own hands. It is the sort of thing a farmer would toss on the ground in front of a rabid dog in order to distract it while he loads his rifle. I spat at the vendor’s feet and shouted, “Shame! Shame!” A crowd of drooling idiots gathered around and shouted anti-intellectual slurs at me. I think they wanted to kill me. Before they could get close enough to tear me limb from limb, two Security Officers arrived in a golf cart and whisked me away in the direction of the Platinum Members Club Elevator.
“What were you doing down there among the rabble?” they asked me, once we were safe in the elevator, which was large enough to house the entire golf cart, such that we did not even get off of the golf cart once we were inside the elevator.
“The rabble?” I asked facetiously, with my trademark roguish smirk. “Those were human beings?”
At this witticism, the guards erupted into such a fit of laughter that they were unable to speak for several minutes despite several heroic attempts. Once their desperate guffaws began to subside, I decided to complete my bon mot as such: “I assumed I had wandered into a bathroom filled with toilets overflowing with human shit.” At this the two men laughed with such abandon that I honestly feared they would asphyxiate and fall dead in front of me. Such was the ferocity of their laughter!
Once I was safely within the Platinum Club Members Club Lounge, I was able to observe the carnage below. Whenever the home team would smash a Slam out of the park, such violence would erupt in the stands that I wondered if the world would not have been better off if we simply obliterated every living soul present at the game except for myself and a select few of the players. Some members of the blood-streaked horde seem to have brought their own toilets with them from home. Packs of wild dogs roamed the bleachers licking up human blood and streaks of nacho cheese. No fewer than a dozen people had fallen to their deaths from the upper balconies by the time I left in the third inning.
After one of the biggest fucking home run crackerjack smacks of the night, I saw a couple in the cheapest section lose sight of their child’s carriage. It tumbled down the steps as the parents hollered and whooped, blinded by their own rapturous bloodlust. No one in the surrounding seats made an attempt to save the doomed child. The words, “Tonto, jump on it, jump on it” blasted repeatedly over the stadium loudspeakers, drowning out the infant’s yelps. I pointed out this scene to the man sitting next to me, a senior member of the Likud Party whose name I will not mention here, and he simply rolled his eyes and snarled, “This game is too good for them.” I cannot say that I disagree.
It was a game like any other. Lethargic absurdity punctuated by soaring, ejaculatory Home Run Slams. And yet, times like these can bring our nation together. We gather around the Nation’s Game as weary travelers will sometimes gather around a bonfire. In times of great pain, we find peace hidden among the bases. For better or worse, baseball. Now and forever, baseball. Life and death, baseball. Heaven and hell, baseball. Baseball, dear reader. Only baseball.
Mr. Baseball is a baseball historian and fan. He lives and works in the United States.
Photo by Getty.