By: Danielle DelGaudio
Watching baseball will incite a lot of emotions for diehard fans. It’s mostly happiness and excitement, with the forecast always noting a strong chance of disbelief and heartburn. Even in these moments though our love of the game never waivers. We as fans take the punches and blows that our beloved teams offer and come back even stronger for their next outing. The game connects family members, friends, and coworkers. It connects strangers that pass each other by on the street or in the subway seeing each other wearing a piece of merchandise from their favorite team. It connects different generations to each other, reminding us that baseball has been the American pastime for almost two-hundred years and will continue to fuel our hearts for years to come.
There has been a lot of talk by Rob Manfred over the last few years about young people not being interested enough in the game. This started his asinine (in this author’s opinion) quest to shorten the length of the game because in his head this is the issue standing in the way of a larger fanbase. I could write a whole separate article about how almost every change he has made as commissioner does not even shorten the game and how it’s a pointless quest because if someone does not like baseball… they will not start because the game ran 30 minutes shorter than usual. However, that isn’t what this piece is about. Here I will talk about the aspects of baseball that should be highlighted to bring more fans into the game, instead of what changes must be made, which is absolutely zero.
Dear Rob Manfred,
Leave baseball alone.
I liked baseball before I even liked baseball. This sounds counterintuitive, but it truly isn’t. I would bet money that people claiming not to like baseball love at least one thing that is directly connected to the game. It’s probably the same thing that I loved before falling in the love with the game itself, classic baseball movies. Long before making sure that the T.V was tuned into SNY approximately 30 minutes before first pitch for the pregame show, I had been watching baseball movies and absolutely loving them. I’ll start with A League of Their Own. This movie means so much to me. It means even more now after learning about the history of the A.A.G.P.B.L, but it was so impactful from the moment it was first introduced to me. It was an incredible movie filled with so much excitement and inspiration. For young girls, these types of movies about persevering and succeeding in the face of adversity leave an impactful imprint in our hearts and minds that we continue to carry forever. They make anything feel possible. They make you carry yourself straighter, hold your head higher, speak louder, and walk with an invigorated sense of purpose and excitement about what new adventures are out there in the world. For years I would enjoy this movie without ever really associating it with baseball. It was just a wonderful film that I loved. But after getting into the game, it made the movie even better for me. I was able to appreciate not only the triumph of adversity, but also the baseball prowess that all these women had. I could now watch the plays they made and the clutch at bats that they had and appreciate the magnificence that I was watching.
Another baseball film that I liked before liking the game is Angels in the Outfield. Such a classic. Also, it’s starring Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) so who can’t like this movie?? Angels in the Outfield has a fun mix of real life and the supernatural, which is something that I believe anybody can get behind. It features kid lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt with his own reluctant butler that brings him popcorn, candy, and nachos while he sits back and enjoys baseball games with his best friend. It has underdog Angels ballplayers (not that dissimilar from the current Angels roster) that are likeable goofs. In addition to having a stellar cast and the great adornments to the story mentioned above, it has an enthralling core plot that keeps you invested in the characters. You want the best for Gordon-Levitt, his pal J.P, the try-hard Angels, and manager George Knox who is eventually revealed to be a big-hearted softie who got tired of managing a team in the midst of their Dark Ages; a term I use to describe any long stretch of losing seasons. In contrast, viewers want the worst for the clear villain of the movie which is that awful veteran Angels broadcaster that THANKFULLY gets the axe after the team clinches the Pennant. Angels in The Outfield is an awesome, creative, wildly fun, and thoroughly heartfelt movie that will always be a sure-fire hit for viewers of all ages no matter whether or not they like baseball just yet.
Other classic baseball films I’ve been a fan of for much longer than I’ve been a fan of baseball include The Sandlot, Field of Dreams, Rookie of the Year, and Eddie’s Million Dollar Cookoff. Some of you may not be familiar with that last one. If so, I implore you to watch it given that it is the BEST Disney Channel original movie that the station has ever made. Whenever asked to describe the plot of the movie, I always tell people it’s about a kid who plays baseball and bakes a lasagna, (because well… it is) and it is GREAT.
For me, Field of Dreams is a great example of a baseball film that just flat-out brings people together. That’s exactly what it did for me and one of my best friends. Over the course of being roommates for three years in college, we ran through a bunch of different movies, stand-up shows, and documentaries to find something that we would both really enjoy. We have different hobbies and interests, so it was hard to find things in pop culture that we both really enjoyed. But man, once we landed on Field of Dreams it was like Bartolo’s swing connecting with the pitch on that fateful day in San Diego, pure magic. That movie has given us so many wonderful memories and will continue to be a source of joy and laughter for years to come. I’ll always recommend sitting down to watch Field of Dreams.
Baseball and all of its adjunct pop culture companions bring people together. It provides us with memories to last a lifetime. Baseball gives us a sense of nostalgia through all of the shared history of the game that we pass down through generations, as well as our personal connections to movies and documentaries we’ve grown up watching. It simultaneously makes us excited about what new and exciting memories the game will provide to us in the future. This game is more than a game… it’s written into the foundation of American life. Simply put, baseball brings out the best in all of us.