The Everlasting Allure Of The World SeriesPlay
A large portion of the whole point of baseball games, football games and games of pretty much all sorts, except the ones thriving in casinos and carnival midways, is that we don’t know how they’ll come out.
On Wednesday night, C.C. Sabathia, the large, hard-throwing and congenial fellow who arrived in New York from Cleveland via Milwaukee, could be as effective as he was in the League Championship Series. He could also walk two guys in the first inning and hit somebody else.
On Thursday, Pedro Martinez, who found his way to Philadelphia via the graveyard reserved for pitchers so lacking in promise that they have been cut loose by the Mets, could throw seven more post-season shutout innings, baffling the Yankees just as he baffled the Dodgers, proving once more that with 10 to 14 days between starts, he’s as good as he ever was. Or he could be hammered.
Nobody knows, which is part of why we watch, which we certainly will in fairly large numbers, never mind that once again the games will start too late and run too long and that in at least some instances, they are likely to be played in weather less suitable for baseball than it is for winter games and ducks.
The other part of why we’ll watch is that it’s the World Series.
We watch the Super Bowl because the snacks are plentiful, it’s too cold to be outside, everybody else is doing it and otherwise our citizenship will be revoked.
It can be argued, especially if the person doing the arguing is under 60, that for entertainment value the World Series cannot compete with the NCAA basketball tournament.
But what sports event carries into its annual incarnation the weight of history born by the World Series? What occasion related to a game can lay claim to the attention of presidents as far back as William Howard Taft, about whom it is reliably said that he would have been at Fenway Park to see the Giants play the Red Sox in the fall of 1912, except that his wife had mischievously scheduled something for him to do in New Hampshire?
No event, and no occasion related to a game. Overshadowed by its glittering, more youthful entertainments, ridiculously assigned to Halloween and beyond, it is still, at least in name, the World Series. We paid attention as children, as did our grandfathers. Should auld acquaintance be forgot? Nope. Play ball.
This program aired on October 27, 2009.