Passing Time in America

A lot of things are compared to baseball; the most obvious, of course, is sex. This always bothered me, considering the numerous inconsistencies. The first is when you get a home run or manage to get around all the bases in baseball, you don’t say that particular player went all the way; if you plow someone, you don’t refer to it as getting a home run. I mean, maybe you do, but you’re probably odd if you do. And there are others: if the physicality of women having sex could be considered by me as getting to third base, what would be third base be for women that prefer women? Is there a gray area (ew… I hope not) where it goes from second to home, like a dust storm fucked everything up all along the third base line? This is why I refer to my sexual conquests only in hockey euphemisms. And I will tell you– getting a hat trick is filthy, filthy business.

Now in the last five years or so, I’ve gone from being apathetic in the most annoying of fashions (that fashion, of course, being Jcno jeans– the more enormous the better– and fishnet anything accompanied by a whole lot of sighing at the Conformists) to being passionate (well, relatively) about baseball. I’m not one of those douchebags that jumped on the Red Sox bandwagon when they broke an agonizing 86 year losing streak in 2004… I jumped on the bandwagon the year before. After being following them from October on in 2003, the sight of everyone I grew up around having their hopes dashed year after year finally made sense. Well, as much sense as unending masochism can make to anyone who is not directly involved. Also beginning that year was a dreaded time of year known as the offseason.

Now, for most normal dudes, this sucks, but not that much. There’s football, hockey, basketball, European football, and golf. But one must understand that I really could care less about any of these other sports. This is true mainly because my art fag wiring will not allow me to follow numerous sports avidly; in fact, I’m pushing it as is. The other reason is that all other sports have a flimsy base. Football is a field full of brutes in tight spandex taking entirely too long to make a 7 second play, then only playing one game a week. Hockey is interesting, but much like European football (or soccer, if you’re not pretentious), I can only be so interested in a low-scoring game. Hell, defense-heavy games of baseball drive me insane. Basketball feels like it should be interesting, but my image of basketball is heavily tied to dudes with outlandish afros and short shorts with a sweet Funkadelic bassline accompanying everything they do. This image is completely my own doing, and it makes little to no sense, considering that era of basketball was over before I was born. But much like funk has progressed into a weak facsimile of its former self, I see no reason to like basketball nowadays. Their shorts are too long and their afros… please, don’t get me started on the lack of sweet afros in the NBA. And until Tiger Woods got involved, golf may as well have had a Grand Wizard. So this essentially leaves the cold, unforgiving New England months to Xasthur and Jesu records, driving or taking the train to a job I loathe a lot more than I do when the sun’s out and the trees don’t look like wooden skeletons. Well, that and movies, good TV and friends… but the one element of myself completely rooted in dudeness suffers from November to April, and must look elsewhere to be fullfilled.

In previous years, this has manifested itself in different, scary ways. The scariest of which was a newfound affection for Kevin Coster’s baseball movies. While “Field of Dreams” is a little heartwarming despite being dipped in saccharine, “Bull Durham” is completely inexcusable. While the movie is alright enough, the 17 minute sex scene between Kevin Costner and Susan Sarandon set to an unintentionally eerie sax solo is not only grating and nauseating, but creepy and possibly the most unsexy sex scene in a movie this side of Boys Don’t Cry. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I mean, what else is a man to do? Socialize? Read? Exercise? Community service? Don’t be fucking ignorant.

This year, to a greater extent than in 2003 mainly because the contest was more intense this year, it was politics. After the Iowa caucus, it became clear that my rabid interest in politics was merely a substitution for the lack of baseball in my life. When I was teaching night classes, I would give my students writing assignments to be able to sneak online and check to see who was winning what state. When a primary would fall on a night I was at home, I would watch CNN incessantly (being that watching Fox News for Democratic primary analysis is like watching a Red Sox game on the Food Network), cross-checking the results to what AP had, being that AP usually called a particular race first. I even tried to understand what the hell a superdelegate is. I found this much more entertaining than watching to see who would get Johan Santana for the entire winter.

Now this seemed completely random at first, along the lines of intensely following the Iditarod or who would veto the earmarks on the No Child Left Behind bill. But upon further consideration, it isn’t that out of the ordinary. Those of you who have been paying even the most remote attention to this primary season have surely noticed the to-the-death nature of the competition, making each day another event to follow: a jab from one candidate and waiting to see how the other would react. Then the actual primary coverage perfectly fit my interests: if anything else was on TV or I had grading to do, I could drift in and out (like I do with most ballgames), coming back when someone had won and half-heartedly listen to hours of spin and analysis. In theory, I’m going to vote for whomever wins the Democratic nomination; in fact, I’m rooting for one candidate over the other. Politics is very reminiscent of baseball, just instead of drunken bragging rights to your buddy Paul from Washington Heights, it’s, you know, your hopes, dreams, beliefs, and ethics.

Now, I’m gunning for Barack Obama this time around, because I’m naive, overly idealistic, enjoy slogans, and heartily against concrete promises. While I don’t have many complaints about Hillary on the issues in comparison to Obama, I know that she’s much more of a divisive figure in the middle and on the right than he is (though they’re getting neck and neck there as well) and would have a harder time tackling Everybody’s Crazy Grandpa John McCain. Now while I saw the two candidates in this light at the beginning, slowly but surely, I did the proper competitive thing and rooted for one and demonized the other. Now while I’ll view Barack’s loss to Hillary much like the Patriots’ loss to the Giants back in February (4 minutes of disappointment followed by a sandwich and wondering what else was on) should that time come, up until right around now, their rivalry hearkened to the Sox/Yankees bouts that I would normally have to wait until spring to re-experience.

And the two are not unlike those two teams. Hillary has been expected to seek the Democratic nomination before she even ran for office in 2000, having it all but promised to her due to the fact that her husband was the one good thing to happen to the Democratic party in the last 45 years and that she was a brassy lady that could seemingly withstand the blows of the subtle and blatant sexist jabs of the press that would come along with being the first serious female contender for President. In fact, she was expected to be the nominee about 16 minutes after Bush took office in early 2005. This sense of entitlement irked me as much as living a 20 minute drive away from Yankee Stadium while being reminded of the Yankees’ 26 World Series titles as often as possible. Having Massachusetts plates made it worse at times, of course.

Obama, on the other hand, seemingly came from nowhere: an overly green and idealistic newcomer riding on the fumes of a really fucking good Keynote address at the ’04 Democratic Convention. When going up against she who was promised the shot at the presidency, he seemingly was pursuing a lost cause; it would have been better to have him drop out and wait until ’12 or ’16. But thanks to an incredibly obnoxious swarm of supporters that showed up wherever he was (just short of calling themselves Barack Nation), he fought against the initial odds to become the (slight) frontrunner for the nomination. After worrying about the distinct possibility of having another war-crazy Republican in office, it was refreshing and inspiring to see another non-white man have a shot at the White House to (hopefully, but probably not) undo most of the mortal sins of the last 8 years. In the offseason, it was nice to see someone come from behind to seemingly win in the end that wasn’t in Bull Durham.

(Of course, having Kerry lose to Bush in ’04 was like watching the ’04 Sox lose to a Yankees starting lineup comprised of Hitler’s generals as being coached by Saddam Hussein.)

This was all up to Pennsylvania. The same problem I have with football I’ve had with the Pennsylvania primary: it took too goddamn long for too little payoff. And I got to watch Barack Obama say the same thing over and over again and Hillary Clinton piss all over anything I ever liked about her by coming up with a new trivial issue to squawk about in every morning news cycle. The last six weeks have essentially been a political offseason: the only movements were subtle and didn’t have any immediate effect on the outcome of the race. Of course, in lieu of trades, we had angry black ministers and candidates not actually getting shot at in Bosnia. Upon its return, it wasn’t as exciting. It was tiring instead of exhilarating. And as the results came on, I found myself paying more attention to the Boston/Los Angeles game (but in my defense, 2 Ellsbury home runs and 3 doubles by Pedroia beat the shit out of Paul Begala and Wolf Blitzer, a man who clearly does not deserve his badass name).

So at this point, I guess I could watch closely over the next two weeks to see who does what. But at this point, yeah, Hillary won, but not by enough to convince people that she should be the nominee. And even if Obama pummels her in the remaining primaries, she still has enough of a reason to stay in this through the convention. This is going to stretch out the length of time it has already been going on, and I am officially throwing in the towel. I would like someone to contact me after the brokered convention and/or the riots end and let me know who to champion over the other guy. It’s baseball season again; this is no time to be intelligent.

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