The Baseball Desert

Monday, December 22, 2003

Baseball, the Internet & me (Part V)

I’ve explained how I got interested on baseball and I’ve also explained the reasons why my interest in the sport continued, so the final part of the story is really concerned with how I finally got to the point I’m at today.

As I explained in Parts I (see post of Nov 17) and II (Nov 18), I was pretty much hooked on baseball right from the word go, and the more I learned about the game, the more I grew to love it. The problem is that I really was ‘hooked’, and like any addiction, you need a regular dose of your particular drug just to keep you going. Baseball coverage on UK television turned out to be a temporary thing, and so I was left out in the wilderness, trying to follow the sport from 4,000 miles away, with almost no regular media coverage. I signed up for a weekly newsletter put together by a British baseball fan in Cambridge who was even crazier than I was and who would compile the week’s scores and news into a user-friendly newsletter format. Although it was a welcome lifeline to the sport that I loved, that particular endeavour did serve to remind me that part of baseball’s charm is the fact that it is played almost every day for six months a year, and there is a real reward to be had from studying the box-scores every morning, and following the natural rhythm of the game itself. However, a once-a-week newsletter makes it difficult to capture that rhythm, and it always felt like I was drowning in a sea of information when I tried to get my head around the box scores and reports of maybe a hundred games at a time. I tried, because I really wanted to follow what was going on, but it really sometimes felt like a huge effort, despite my intense love of the game. I occasionally splashed out on a copy of USA Today – a real luxury on my limited student budget – which gave me a much more ‘real’ sense of the game and had the added benefit of actual photographs (because the newsletter was text-only…), but it was still very hard going.

I tried to compensate for the lack of information (and images) by hooking up with a local team whilst I was at college, in the hope of actually getting to play a bit of baseball myself, but I wasn’t around long enough during the summer months for the experience to have any chance of succeeding, so as my time at university came to an end, my passionate interest in baseball began to wane a little, simply because I wasn’t getting enough exposure. I still loved the game, but, like with any love affair, if you spend too much time away from the object of your affection, it’s hard to keep the flame burning bright.

After university, things became even more complicated, as I moved to France. Dealing with a new country, a new job and, basically, a whole new life, meant that I had even less time and energy to devote to the pursuit of baseball. I followed from a distance, keeping an eye on the standings now and again and checking out who won the World Series, but it was clear that baseball has taken a back seat to all the rest. Rather than being a passionate love-affair, it was more like the sort of relationship you have with a distant cousin – you meet at family parties, say hello, exchange news for about two minutes and then head on out to the kitchen to see if there’s any beer left in the fridge.

So what changed? How did the relationship go from distant-cousin-polite-and-friendly back to can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other hot? Well, if you’re sat in front of your computer screen reading this (and, since this is a weblog, there’s a fairly good chance that’s the case…), then you already have the answer. What changed was that, in 1999, after having heard everyone go on and on for months about the World Wide Web and how great it was, I finally purchased a PC and got hooked up to the Internet...

Part VI