Exclusives: The Varsity Typewriter
PAW web exclusive column by Patrick Sullivan '02 (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
American baseball is forever, and the World Series is our heart
By Patrick Sullivan '02
During fall break, I
traveled to London to perform thesis research.
My daily commute to
the Public Records Office took almost an hour on the Tube, so each
morning, after purchasing an overpriced, under-octane "coffee"
(suspiciously like lukewarm chocolate milk, for the equivalent of
$2.50) and a newspaper, I settled in for the ride. I read about
Prime Minister Tony Blair, about Afghanistan, about the royal family,
and of course, about football.
Not American football,
with the helmets and the pigskin, but football, or to us Ameri-centrics,
soccer. As an American with very little exposure to the sport, I
was mildly interested, but my real reason for reading the sports
section and buying the paper, for that matter was
to read about the World Series.
As a displaced Cubs
fan, by virtue of proximity I consider myself a Yankees supporter.
And I love the World Series; October baseball at its finest. However,
because of my research in London, I missed the first five games
of the series. Try as I might, I could not find so much as the game
scores in the London papers I read. We're not talking about a big
article or color photos . . . all I wanted was a two-sentence recap
on the fifth page of sports next to that article about amateur fencing.
No such luck. All soccer,
all the time.
When I questioned my
British host about this, he laughed. Why even call it the "World"
Series, he asked? Nobody except for Americans and Japanese even
care about baseball. While not totally accurate, he made sense
at first. When compared to soccer, baseball is predominantly an
American sport, eclipsed in its American-ness only by football.
Conversely, soccer reigns supreme as the world's most popular athletic
event. It is an international game, culminating in the appropriately
titled World Cup tournament.
By the time I returned
to Newark late Thursday night, I was so starved for baseball that
after picking up my bags, I stood alone in the international customs
area, glued to a television as the Yankees fought through 12 innings
towards victory. Although the game-five thriller temporarily satisfied
my baseball needs, I still pondered my British friend's comment
about the "World" Series.
I must heartily disagree
with his statement. While watching one of the best baseball games
in history Sunday night (the final game of the series), I realized
the "worldly" importance of the World Series. It defines
who we are to the world.
Baseball is quintessentially
American. From the expansive, green and shiny ballparks, the juicy
hotdogs, the lure of the bleacher seats on a Sunday afternoon or
the "wave" rippling through the crowds, baseball embodies
our national spirit. Even the typically obnoxious Bronx Bomber fans,
yelling obscenities at the umpire all the way from left field, or
the rowdy "bleacher bums" in Chicago, dancing shirtless
in the stands of Wrigley Field and heckling the outfielders by throwing
back home runs and Snickers bars, exemplifies our country.
This World Series proved
no different. After September 11, New Yorkers resumed their daily
rituals. And like a rite of autumn, the Bombers found their typical
rhythm again, seamlessly connecting October with victory. To some,
their ascent toward the American League crown and a near (so, so
near) victory in game seven of the World Series seemed predestined.
This Cinderella team fought like New Yorkers fought like
The World Series serves
internationally as a symbol of the American heart. You may attack
us, you may exploit our freedom loving shores, but we'll get right
back up the next day, dust off, and enjoy what you cannot possibly
comprehend: the freedom and exhilaration of a day at the ball park.
So baseball isn't as
international as soccer that's obvious. One could just as
easily craft a passionate defense of the worldly importance of soccer
and I wouldn't argue with them at all. But the World Series deserves
its title, not just for the many countries that love and play the
game, but more for the spirit that baseball exudes: the spacious,
relaxing, thrilling, team-oriented sport that shows to the world
the classy strength and character that typifies the American spirit.
And let it be known
that you heard it here first: Next year's world champion will be
the Chicago Cubs. Any takers?
You can reach Patrick