Lost appetite

Posted: July 19, 2012 by terryvandrovec in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

At the risk of sounding like the spiky-haired scamp from Jerry Maguire, did you know that a person’s taste buds change every seven years?

Me, neither. In fact, that may or may not be true, but my 8-year-old daughter says it is, and I’m working on validating her feelings and therefore suppressing the urge to double-check her information with the Google Machines.

Let’s just go with it. Because there’s no question my taste in sports has changed – and rather dramatically – over the years.

As a kid, baseball and golf were perhaps my two favorite sports. At least, it seems that way in hindsight. I biked to the baseball fields – and there was an up-hill element in both directions, scout’s honor – every day to play and later to coach. I’d pedal home in the afternoon and play some more, either with friends or family members or by myself, throwing a ball against the steps and using the unpredictable caroms to hone on my fielding. (I was a short, weak-hitting first baseman for most of my youth. With a combo like that, it’s a wonder I didn’t make the bigs.)

When it rained, there were baseball cards to be studied and traded – boxes of them, all well-kempt and still in my childhood closest. No way I was going to have those bicycle-spoke horror stories like my dad did. (Although a part of me wonders if every day claims to have lost a Mickey Mantle card along the way, if it’s that generation’s version of a fish tale.)

Guys like Darin Erstad made Jamestown, N.D., a baseball town. TV’s love of the game has fallen off since leaving.

Jamestown, N.D., was a baseball town – just ask former MLB All-Star, Gold Glover and World Series champ Darin Erstad, our favorite son. The Legion team had a charter bus before those were commonplace. There were 3-4 amateur teams, all of them state title contenders. The premier park – Jack Brown Stadium – was green and glorious from grandstands to fences before and after being burned down. I was all in.

Golf was more of a family thing. From the time I was maybe 2, we never lived more than a couple blocks from a course. My dad grew up playing the game, viewed it as a positive outlet during his rambunctious youth. For me and my younger brother, it was something we could do together – four years of difference meant far less on a golf course than the diamond – at any time of day and late into the evening. Thirty-six hole days weren’t uncommon. Getting to take the golf cart off-roading through a gulley behind our house was a bonus.

And now? I haven’t watched a regular-season MLB game in maybe five years. The last one was in person – Twins vs. Brewers in the Metrodome – and primarily as the kickoff to a friend’s bachelor party.

I haven’t played golf in maybe two years. Not once, even passing up free rounds, blasphemy in my profession.

Why? My taste in other forms of entertainment – music, movies, books (or book) – haven’t really changed. I wonder about that on a semi regularly basis, especially during the summer, a season once dominated by those two activities. Frankly, that might have been part of the allure – baseball and golf were things I could do outdoors and without the threat of frostbite; North Dakota winters are as unforgiving. Access was part of it. Baseball was the base sport in my hometown; and I can’t remember a summer that I didn’t have a season pass to play golf.

As for our breakup? I prefer to think it’s primarily related to lifestyle changes. To play or watch baseball requires a considerable chunk of time. Golf is the same AND it’s expensive. That part began to matter in college, when I wasn’t living on my parents’ dime. Slowly (or quickly), my game deteriorated. Being the high-strung sort, golf frustrated me even when my skills were serviceable. When that went away and kids began to arrive? Forget it. Not worth the time, the money or the aggravation. Maybe it would be different if my wife played, but I doubt it.

That brings us back to baseball. I hesitate to say that I gave up on the game because it’s boring. That seems unfair and uninteresting, a cop out if not downright ignorant. Plus, I’m OK with college baseball, albeit for a much shorter season. But that’s what society has pounded into my head, and I can’t come up with anything else, especially because I remain vested in action-intensive leagues like the NBA and the NFL. Maybe we just drifted apart, like a relationship that fizzles out rather than blowing up.

Sometimes I miss baseball and golf, two old, grand games – the strategy, the success, the morning dew and the setting sun. Perhaps we’ll be reunited some day, when the pace of life slows. I’d like that.

  1. JHorn says:

    Love this entry TV. Mirrors how I feel about baseball. . . golf I never really got into playing that evil game. The only time I really watch it is when Tiger is in contention. Baseball though, your childhood sounds a lot like mine.

  2. according to this http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575002852055561406.html
    Pro football has 11 actual minutes of action. Eleven minutes. Three hours on my tv and 11 minutes of action.
    According to this:
    Baseball runs 8.5 minutes to 12 minutes of actual play while being on my TV for 3 hours.

    So the facts play out that the playing time is the same. The hype, the hits, the screaming announcers, the 4 replays of every single play make it feel like you are seeing more in football. There is a perception that football is non-stop. It’s not. Think about how long a play actually lasts compared to huddles, time outs, penalties and commentary. 3-7 seconds? Maybe 11-15? Not a whole lot really.

    I love them both, but nothing for me will ever replace the thrill of a man on the hill throwing his best stuff, faster than most highway speed limits, to try to get a batter out. A batter that has the ability to see the spin on a ball coming at him at amazing speeds, gauge whether or not to swing and then execute in less than .58 seconds.
    The constant moving of the defense, the hit and run, the battle of wills, the battle of minds, the late inning heroics, the fact that on any given night…much more so than in the NFL you can and do see upsets…the pure history of the game of baseball…those are much too enticing for me to ever turn my back on our American past time.
    I still take every opening day off from work to watch baseball from 10am central to about 1am central.

    The sport I fell away from that just recently brought me back was the NBA. While everyone talks about the magic of the Jordan years and how amazing basketball was then I was disgusted by the way the game was bastardized and destroyed so that her biggest star could play the game his way instead of the way the game was meant to be played. The carries, traveling, push offs by offensive players, spacing and stifling of defensive allowances killed the game for me. Were Michael Jordan forced to play by the actual rules of basketball I doubt he would be a top 15 player. I watched a ton of womens basketball during that time. They actually dribbled, set picks, played stout defense and ran set plays. Their game looked more like basketball than anything the NBA was putting out. I did find myself watching the playoffs this year because of the OKC team. They made it fun to watch.

    Okay…I’ve rambled enough. Great article as always. Made me think and respond, and isn’t that what it is about?

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