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Baseball And Music?

October 28, 2016

Go on, admit it. You don’t know a double-switch from a D.C. al Coda. A slider on the outside corner from the Red-Headed Stranger. Roy Campanella, Joe Garagiola and Tony La Russa: The three tenors or guys who patrolled the third baseline? 

Face it, baseball is the Classical Music of sports. 

Sure, everyone thinks Classical music is important. Who wouldn’t? But, do you ever listen to it? Do you compare Paganini to Pavarotti? (You shouldn’t. One is a composer, the other a tenor.) No. We attend our kids’ junior high concert and clap politiely as they stumble through an arrangement by a composer we’ve never heard of. At Christmas time we might enjoy Handel’s Messiah. . .at least the Hallajuah Chorus. I mean, is there even any more to it? Twenty-three songs? Really? 

Baseball is often viewed the same way. The World Series is currently underway. You probably knew that. The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians are tied at one game each. The next game is Saturday night in historic Wrigley Field. Tickets are going for insane amounts of money: $6000 per seat all the way up to $20,000. Even watching the game in nearby bars will cost you big bucks. Not having a championship in over 100 years will do that for you. 

But, there are really two classes of baseball fans. I would expect that the World Series, especially given the historic nature of the teams involved, will have strong TV ratings. And baseball teams continue to enjoy strong fan support. But, there’s a division between the people who watch a baseball game because it’s the World Series, or because their company has tickets. And then there’s another group. 

The group that will sit through a 3 hour rain delay on the last day of the season to watch the last place team take on the second to last place team. The group who will root for their team even when they are headed for a 100 loss season. The group that can name all the retired numbers for their team and who wore them. (Two for the Mariners; Ken Griffey Jr, #24 and Jackie Robinson’s league-wide retired #42.) 

But, it seems wrong to compare those guys to classical music lovers. Perhaps a better comparison is Country music fans. Country music is one of the most popular genres of music. The fans are passionate. They have their version of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalries. (Blake Shelton/Miranda Lambert.) They have their heroes and their goats. 

And they have some of the most virulent anti-fans in all of music. 

I like all kinds of music. . .except country.

Country music fans are described as rednecks. . .by both their fans (Rebecca Wilson’s “Redneck Woman”) and their anti-fans. Country artists sell out huge arenas, but are viewed as a bunch of beer drinking, truck driving, good-ol-boys. Kind of like baseball fans. 

I don’t mind that there are people who simply tolerate baseball, or that there are people who would rather listen to nails on a chalkboard than a Country song. That’s the thing about fans of both. It’s not a trendy sport to watch, nor to understand. And Country music is not considered culturally significant. 

Most of the season, baseball is Country music. Loved by some, dismissed by others. During the World Series, it morphs into Classical music. Watched by the “important” people  who don’t understand it, but watch because it’s the thing to do for two weeks in October. 

So, tune in tomorrow for a little chin music and long balls. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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