Monday, July 3, 2017

Who are these guys?

So again this morning I have the AL and NL All-Star starting lineups in front of me, and again I am dismayed by my disconnect from America's one-time Pastime. I have never heard of half of these people. I have never heard of them even though some have played in multiple All-Star games.

Ryan Zimmerman, I know. Aaron Judge, I know. Francisco Lindor played in the World Series last year. Starlin Castro used to be a Cub. Zack Cozart's a Red, Salvador Perez has played in five straight All-Star games, and there are  Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, Nelson Cruz, Mike Trout.

But who in blazes is Nolan Arenado?

What's a George Springer? Where did Justin Smoak come from? Are Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon  and Marcell Ozuna guys whose baseball cards I'm going to want to hang onto?

Inquiring minds want to know. Or, more to the point, non-inquiring minds.

Here is my problem, and also baseball's: I am squarely in that aging demographic that is baseball's prime audience these days, and even I am no longer fully engaged. I don't follow the game the way I used to. I don't check the boxscores every morning. In fact, doing so seems impossibly quaint in 2017, like the idea of the milkman leaving glass bottles of his product on your doorstep every morning.

So why is that?

A million reasons and no reasons. As ever.

Part of it for me, I suppose, is I'm almost three years removed from the daily sportswriting gig, so I don't pay as much attention to sports in general as I used to. I don't even have ESPN anymore. And I don't really miss it except on rare occasions.

But part of it, too, are the endless distractions of life in a wired world, the desperate roar of desperate voices desperately vying for our attention. I've learned to filter some of that out; for instance, I no longer gasp in horror at the Thumbsucker In Chief's latest 140-character abomination on Twitter, because it reveals nothing I don't already know. I get it, the President of the United States is a 3-year-old. Move along.

Of course, there are other distractions. Summer is no longer as empty as it was when baseball ruled it absolutely; the NBA Finals drag on well into June now, and then there's the NBA draft, and then there's NBA free agency. There is, most summers, some sort of international soccer going on. There is NASCAR. There is more NBA free agency. And then ... NFL training camps, y'all!

The days of baseball being the only earthly thing out there in the summertime are gone, in other words. Maybe once upon a time the only summer sounds besides crickets were the porch-swing rhythms of a baseball game droning softly from the radio. But not anymore.

Several years back, maybe almost 30 now, I tried to recapture that. I hauled my radio out to the front porch and tuned it into the All-Star game. Rain was falling softly where I was, darkening the street outside. The game murmured soothingly from my radio.

I lasted three innings before I turned it off and came inside.

Nostalgia never takes into account the mosquitoes, for one thing. And, even 30 years ago, the game couldn't hold my attention. Porch swings, it seemed, were out of date.

More's the pity, part of me thought.

Welcome to modern times, the rest of me added.

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