Cowhide Aesthetics

December 28, 2008

Baseball and North Carolina in the same sentence make me think of the Durham Bulls (not, to clear things up, Bull Durham, though I quite love Annie’s opening monologue). Which makes me think of tracking a handful of players who made it to the Majors through their programs (and guessing which ones would) with a couple of friends, and learning how to keep score. And this piece of conversation has stuck with me for a number of years now:

“You know, the Minor Leagues are probably a better representation of true baseball – as it’s meant to be played – than the Majors.”

It wasn’t my thought, and it had something to do with salaries, steroids, prima donna player drama, and a handful of other things I don’t quite remember anymore. But the logic was that players in the Minors aren’t out there for a paycheck so much as they are to play as well as they can and prove themselves, because if they don’t, they’re out of a job or will be fairly soon.

I agree a little more with that statement now than I did then, but not for those reasons. It has to do with the particular aesthetic of watching Major League and Minor League baseball, at least from my perspective: in Major League games, I want a particular team to win, or a particular player to do well. I’m partisan, whereas I’m more prone to relax and watch the beauty of the game (and I do find it quite beautiful; I’m on George Will’s side when it comes to this – mess with us and we’ll strangle you with bow ties) if it’s one which I have no (or little) stake in, like a Minor League game. Even if I’m watching the Louisville Bats play, it just doesn’t seem to matter as much who wins or loses so much as it does that the game is a good one.

If baseball is meant to be played for aesthetic purposes, then I want to say the Minors are generally a better representation of that, but I’d be wrong: they’re just better at enabling my viewing of that aesthetic.

* * *

This was supposed to be a post on a line of dialogue from HBO’s John Adams miniseries, which I’ve been watching on DVD (I’m one of those people who have an unhealthy favoritism for all things Adams Family – he just reminds me so much of Old Tully sometimes!) But I can’t think of anything worthwhile to say about it other than the let it stand alone. I don’t know if it is anything he actually said or wrote (I’ve caught some parts of the dialogue – particularly between John and Abigail – that seem to be from letters), but I kind of hope it is. It would be a prescient rebuttal of the French Revolution if it were. And if not, it’s just a nice explanatory companion to what Adams meant when saying he was on the law’s side:

“Do you approve of a brutal and illegal act to enforce a political principle?”


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