MLB Playoffs Recap (Week 4)
As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that I love subtlety and understatement more than most people. I tend to dislike open displays of strong emotion (at least when they’re loud) and resent being pressured into showing emotions that I don’t really feel. Alone among major team sports in the USA, baseball has a code of emotional concealment which has persisted through many decades of history. You can almost touch the mist of red rage in the air when you see a frustrated player leave home plate after striking out, but the emotion is rarely on show. Even in the dugout players seem to constantly chew gum and do any number of mindless repetitive things instead of letting their feelings come out.
LA Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp is probably not an introvert like me, but he still sees baseball as set apart from American culture’s other major sports: “Baseball's a little bit different though … because there are a lot more downs than ups, so sometimes you have to be careful with your celebrations and you can't talk as much.” Tom Hanks has noted that, in the cinematic version of the sport anyway, “there’s no crying in baseball.”
In the late autumn of 2013, I remember throngs of people filling up the lanes on Boston’s Longfellow Bridge and other center-city roads. I watched from the train or the bus, not close enough to make out individual faces, and that was just perfect for me. I was literally in the middle of a great civic pageant -- it was, I suppose, like being inside a Canaletto painting. This wasn’t really my Nation, but it was a treat to experience these people’s moment of mass elation, especially as it had come about six months after a harrowing terrorist attack on them. I fondly hope that many young people in Boston right now could experience the same. The celebration is only two wins away.