One of my colleagues pointed me to a good blog post from NPR about the feuding "schools" of baseball fans:
In short, there is, at this point in history, an entirely unnecessary conflict between people who supposedly appreciate the art/ballet/magic/wizardry/magic-8-ball qualities of baseball and people who supposedly only like the boring/nerdy/soulless/drained-of-life qualities of baseball.I think that sums it up nicely, and unsurprisingly, I find myself with at least one foot planted firmly in each camp. There is (and ought to be) more than one way to appreciate and enjoy anything, including baseball. I love being able to crunch numbers (or ponder the numbers others have crunched) to try to understand the game a bit more. But I also love to sit out on a sunny day with an adult beverage, an unhealthy meal, and a child's wonder to watch players do things I could only ever dream of.
I'm sure the same is true of opera (maybe without hot dogs and nachos, but still) and many other endeavors. There is technical appreciation and aesthetic joy, and sometimes a blend of the two. I doubt there are enough fans of either sort (for either baseball or opera) to sustain the enterprise. These exhibitions have to appeal to a broad base of patrons to exist. And that's a good thing.
The NPR piece refers to the (sadly, defunct) blog Fire Joe Morgan, which I used to read all the time (and I still link to it over on the right!). I read it because it was interesting. I read it because it was funny. And I read it because it helped me to develop my own understanding and appreciation of baseball. I laughed. I kept reading. Much like I keep going to baseball games and talking with all sorts of different fans. It's fun. I like it.
I realize I haven't gotten around to writing about my trip to Spring Training this year. It was great. I will have to do that. Not only did I get to see my favorite team several times, I also got to see ballgames just for the fun of it, games I had no real rooting interest in. And it was joyous.
So today, we get to say it for real: "Play ball!"
Oh, and we get to say, for at least the next six months or so, "Ladies and gentlemen, the 2010 World Series Champions, your San Francisco Giants!" Can't get enough of that.