How far we've come. What was once this country's greatest of past times has become, for a gaggle of red-blooded American youngsters, nothing more than an antiquated nuisance.
It was the sound of baseball that first captivated me. Throughout much of the 80's and 90's I'd practically snuggle up with my radio each night, the empty non-silence of a thousand barely audible conversations fusing into a mesh of white noise, all set behind the call of the game and insightful, yet sparse, color commentary. There is a beauty to radio in general, but specifically to baseball on the AM dial. The crack of the bat and chatter of the crowd devoid of pictures leaves the sport to the announcers and to the listeners imagination. For most children growing up in my father's era and before, baseball existed exclusively in this manner. Without TV and money to see a game in person, the radio, the box scores and your own mind is where baseball lived...and flourished.
This simple love of a complex game was passed on to me as a child and, more than anything else, it's what I continue cherish most about sport. It's why I decided to take my father to a couple of ballgames for his 70th birthday. A father and son, in the sun watching, and discussing, baseball. Nothing could've been more perfect.
More and more it seems that love of baseball - live and on radio - is being ignored by, let alone passed on to, this current generation of techno-dork kids.
It seems that every single time I attend a live baseball game, be it last year in Philly or just last month in Clearwater, I see kids playing handheld video games while a real game unfolds on the field beneath them. I can't help but be filled with a certain kind of mellow rage when I witness a dad and his son (or daughter) together watching the boys of summer only to have the dad ignoring the kid and the kid ignoring the real life action happening before his eyes, well, before his eyes if those eyes weren't staring down into an imaginary world on a 3 inch screen.
There is absolutely no excuse for a video game at a ballgame. If a child has no interest in sport that child should stay the hell home. A parent's role, two of them anyway, is to hand certain things down from generation to generation and to teach children something about this world. Baseball provides the perfect outlet for both functions. There is nothing more ingrained in our culture (at least our male culture) then the sport of ball under the spring and summer sun and there is no sport filled with more details, facts, statistics and strategy than baseball. The opportunity to teach kids about keeping score, outfield positioning, pitch setup and the double switch (among hundreds of other subtleties) is being lost every day in ballparks across the country.
No self respecting parent should allow such activity while attending a ballgame.
It is outrageous!
Wonder why it's acceptable. Maybe because these kids see their parents texting, working on their blackberry and also doing everything they can to avoid the relaxing pleasure of enjoying a ballgame Sure, I love my iPhone and will occasional check my email during a game, but it'll be between innings and very quickly. Nothing can come between me, the game and, if my daughters are with me, the whispered descriptions of a few interesting things taking place on the green grass below. I want to share that time with my kids. I want to share baseball with them. I want to experience life together as a family, immersed in conversation, learning about each other and learning about a game that can teach us so much about life - patience, individual battles and accomplishments within a team environment, thinking a few steps ahead and numerous other cool things.
That others do not share my opinion, and continue to drag their kids and their gaming devices into the ballpark, confuses and angers me. If you allow a child to carry a video game into a ballpark and you're unable to spend 2 hrs with your kid(s), with or without a baseball game taking place in front of you, devoid of technological distractions then you are a failure as a parent. There is no other way around it.