Welcome! If you clicked on this, I’m guessing you and I are feeling similarly discombobulated about our relationship with baseball. Either that, or you’re here to yell about how I’m wrong. If that’s the case, please proceed to the comments below. We both know it makes no difference if you read this or not.
Now that we got that out of the way...Phew. The title is pretty self-explanatory, but I’d be lying if I said it was easy to admit. For most of my life, baseball fan has been a defining characteristic both in how I see myself and how others view me; a point of bonding and connection, or simply a crutch to survive small talk. Heck, for the last two years it was my livelihood. So this crisis of self has felt uncomfortable, unfamiliar... like I’ve let myself down somehow. It’s the second week of January, and I couldn’t tell you when Opening Day is, let alone when pitchers and catchers report. Does this jumble of emotions ring true to anyone else?
To be frank, there’s a seemingly-endless list of reasons why I, and others, feel our passion for this game waning - particularly within the last hellish year. But ultimately most of those reasons can be divided into three different sections:
Loss of community and connection
Loss of faith in MLB and the “integrity of the game”
Loss of confidence and excitement in the Mariners, specifically
The true root of this lackadaisical disinterest is probably some combination of the three above, coupled with a hefty dose of general exhaustion with, well, everything. For years baseball has been a source of solace when things in my own life have been tough, but lately it’s been more of an exacerbator than a help. MLB has certainly never been perfect, but the actions, events and responses recently - from the Astros cheating scandal to the league response to Black Lives Matter protests to the Dodgers post-World Series celebration - have come so furiously that there’s scarcely been time to process one (let alone read the think pieces) before the next bit of news breaks.
As a writer, I often process through writing. It’s not always pretty, or particularly pleasant, but putting pen to paper, fingertips to keyboard has a way of encouraging my thoughts to unspool more manageably. In the grand scheme of things, the devastation of losing enthusiasm for a sport - particularly in the midst of this past year - is like tripping on the sidewalk, catching yourself and finding a $100 bill on the ground in the process. We’ve got bigger fish to fry. But while that oil is heating up, maybe we can talk through some challenges the current game poses and what - if any - hope there is on the horizon.
So my goal with this brief series here is twofold: To create a space to check in with you all on the temperatures of your own fandoms and, to be honest, to try and sort through it myself in an effort to regain some of that joy again. Perhaps it’s a silly exercise on a site that’s, duh, for baseball fans, but for most of us I think that LL is well beyond a mere fan site. Even as I’ve actively struggled with this game, I’ve returned to this page constantly (mostly as a lurker, since I lost my two-factor authentication months ago, oops) as a reminder of the communities we can create with baseball as our artifice.
Cheers to a little navel-gazing self-reflection and to however-many days until Opening Day!