I suppose I missed the boat, this may be more appropriate surrounding Thanksgiving, yet I believe rejoicing in our blessings should not be limited to such a singular moment but a continual dialogue.
I have often had distaste for the separation between art and sport. Yet I understood it, the manner in which each is consumed offers some obvious differentiation. Great art is consumed when the visual or audio senses are overwhelmed by beauty. We are triggered to meditate on what we experience, truly impactful art, challenging are deepest conceptions or broaching previously unconsidered horizons.
Of course great sport is generally consumed in unison with mediocre libation, surrounded by those with whom we enjoy it most. There is of course variation, those willing to scream until they become hoarse at a 4-11 Browns team or an uptight ivy-league crowd watching an incredible 2010 Cornell team. The sort of tweed attendees who say “down in front” in a wholly arrogant, derisive tone.
There is something so entirely wonderful about the shared consumption of sport, a unifying experience which allows the most important societal exchange to occur which is one of communal discussion. The sort of community association, shared interest which Alexis de Tocqueville discusses in Democracy in America, and Robert Putnam suggests is lacking in Bowling Alone.
Of course those community groups or collective actions may have more positive outcomes societally than the communal consumption of sport but it can in a small way be substantiated by these two works.
Returning to the idea of art and sport, in art we extol the idea of becoming consumed by art, an overflow of contemplation and stylistically derived emotion. In art this is usually expressed in hushed verbal tones and language filled with metaphor, allegory and intense imagery.
Yet, if art is to consume us, affect every sense and emotion, is not the enjoyment of sport an extension of art. The mediums of expression and appreciation are without a doubt different. However, attending as well as just watching sports with others is about elation, triumph, the agony of defeat being softened by those who joined us.
The idea that how the Indians, Browns, Cavs did on their respective surfaces is not the defining piece of sport but rather that the relationships we build, the moments we shared are what define their importance.
This is true of any art, any great medium, when consumed is not only defined by the work itself but rather the moment, the memory of who shared in this beauty.
The 2013 Indians season was a special one for myself, of course their on the field success played some role in its gratification as entertainment. However, it was special because of who I shared it with, the first two of importance were Jim Pete and Steve Orbanek, with whom I shared almost a constant dialogue.
While the communication was from various remote locations, connecting with those who shared the same emotions, tortures was unbelievably enjoyable. Indeed, over-reactive conversation from “God how is Chris Perez still on the roster?” to “Matt Carson for MVP”. With a little “Every time a watch an Asdrubel Cabrera at-bat I die a little inside” or “Michael Brantley has the eyes, soul and bat control of an assassin.”
However, as with many, the great blessing of baseball was passed down to myself by my father. Fortunately, I had the blessing of watching 158 of the Indians 163 regular season games with him this summer. We experienced the highs together, triggered conversations that truly mattered and reveled in the opportunity to enjoy such a beautiful game with each other.
Baseball is the birth of a conversation at many points, its long monotonous moments allow for other things to seep in, becoming what sport can be; a distraction which is of great beauty.
This season created a few experiences that I will never forget, the most poignant being July 29. I was on a nerdy, statistical Diatribe, that torturous type monologue which is my trademark. Decrying Giambi’s existence on the roster, I said good heavens how can the Indians bear the weight of such a below average hitter, whose on-field versatility is non-existent. Make him a bench coach and give somebody else his at-bats.
Then it happened, man you could tell as soon as it left the bat, I collapsed laughing, Giambi hits a drive to deep center, wins an absolutely essential game.
It was the beauty of baseball, an unexpected moment which I will never forget, not solely because it was a game winner, or the Tribe was successful. But rather because I shared it with someone else who was equally impassioned.
Do I earnestly hope that a member of Cleveland’s incompetent triumvirate eventually wins a title? Absolutely. Yet that is not what being a sports fan is about for me, it is about the people I share it with. The moments in which I escape the defining things in my life and allow my senses to be overwhelmed by the medium of sport.
It is also why I write, I write to interact not to be right or pretentious. I write as a means of communicating with those who share my passions, in order to tether myself to the most loyal of fan bases.