The pitch: Back near Thanksgiving of 2008, Sal Paolantonio explained to us how football explained America. And we saw the connections clearly.
Soon afterword, we eventually figured out how hockey explained Canada. At long last, the full Bodley contact version of baseball and America’s pastime.
Like Chapter 6, how “few people can go a full day without using a baseball term in their conversation. Baseball is truly our national pastime, but it’s also an integral part of our vocabulary … it’s light and fits well in our society.”
Like a guy who talks to his friends about going out on a date and not being able to get to first base? Bodley goes on to site Paul Dickson’s definitive “The Dickson Baseball Dictionary,” when he quotes Elting E. Morison and how baseball works in our language: “Why is baseball terminology so dominant an influence in the language? Does it suggest that the situations that develop as the game is played are comparable to the patterns of our daily work? Does the sport imitate the fundamentals of the national life or its national life shaped to an extent by the character of the sport?”
Morison then answers his own question by quoting Reggie Jackson: “The country is as American as baseball.”
Bodley, the longtime writer for USA Today who now works for MLB.com, is as good as any to talk the talk of baseball and put it into the context of our country — from the dream of team ownership, to labor strife, to drug use, to expansion West, to war veterans, to racial progress and the legacy of Jackie Robinson, to literature, movies and other media, and even to a manager’s decision making.
So much is touched, in the right tone, in the correct context, in the perfect length, about each one of those, making one actually feel better about staying connected to a game that can get overlooked by the TV power of the NFL, the athletic gracefulness of the NBA or the brutal frozen force of the NHL.
The MLB, timeless in a America that can be often too demanding for fast-paced attention, continues to be the unifying fabric.
If baseball is America’s mirror, it’s a quite a nice reflection on all of us.