Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Gritting My Teeth and Bearing America’s Pastime

I’m sitting in my dentist’s chair when, in the midst of my examination, he looks at me, and with a mocking tone in his voice unleashes this provocative comment.

“So you’re the big Mets fan, eh?”

I’d never told him that I was a baseball fan, nor had I ever mentioned anything about any of my sports allegiances. From the memorabilia that adorns his office, however, I could tell that he was a devoted Yankees fan.

So, since I’m not a Mets fan, I answered honestly and succinctly that he must have had me confused with my dad.

Immediately, his mood brightens.

With an enormous grin, he ventures, “Then you root hard for the Yankees!?”

My first inclination is to lie. I’ve been in this situation before, and I know what he wants to hear. He wants me to say that I go to “The Stadium” weekly, that I watch all the games on the Yes! Network and that my room is like a temple devoted to the Yankees.

On another day, perhaps I would’ve just gone with it, but this time, something inside me felt differently. I was overcome with a desire to come clean about my feelings for the Yankees, and, in a larger sense, baseball in general.

I told my dentist that I didn’t really like the Yankees, but of course I had to immediately qualify that statement by adding I didn’t mean any harm. I noted that I’m just not a fan of professional baseball in general.

Upon hearing this, the doc stopped.

Dental equipment was withdrawn from my mouth. He looked me in the eyes, and with more than just a hint of genuine concern, asked me, “What’s the matter, son, you don’t like America’s pastime?”

My appointment didn’t last much longer after that; save dental terms, nary a word was exchanged. As I exited the office, even catching a glimpse of my perfectly straight teeth in the mirror did little to ease my inner distress – the reality was that my doctor now thought less of me as a person, simply because I had denounced baseball as America’s sport.

Since then, I’ve been wrestling with one basic question: What did baseball do to justify its place in our society as America’s alleged “pastime?”

Maybe long ago in the days of the legends such as the Babe and Ted Williams baseball truly deserved its reputation, but here in the 21st century it is completely unwarranted. According to a recent Gallup poll, since the 1960s 30 percent of Americans have considered football their favorite sport. Basketball placed second in the survey with 16 percent, while baseball finished third, accounting for a mere 14 percent of national interest.

It’s clear to me and most knowledgeable sports-crazed Americans that baseball is not our country’s most popular sport, but there is still a larger myth which I’d like to debunk: that to be considered American, one must at least pretend to have some sort of affinity for baseball.

It appears to me that most Americans have a fear of being honest with themselves about baseball. I’ll be the first to admit that this used to be my situation. I haven’t truly cared about professional baseball in years, but until recently, I still always made it a point to sit down and watch the All-Star game – even though it was getting harder and harder for me to recognize the players participating in it. I have no idea why this was the case; it was almost as if it was instilled in me at a young age that baseball was the right and proper – the “American” – thing to like.

I know that there are others out there on the Hilltop ready to join me in the resounding chorus admitting that the correlation between baseball and Americana is irrelevant. I still respect the game and its true fans a great deal – but no matter how many times my friend’s roommate Red “Sox-iles” him before the team’s inevitable debacle, we all have to take a step back and remember that there’s a reason that the Village C Alumni Lounge doesn’t offer its DirecTV until football season starts.

If you’re a casual sports fan who feels obligated to “make it out to the ballpark” at least once a season, it’s either time to learn the difference between your team’s middle reliever and your late-inning setup man, or to stop feeling obligated to follow a sport that you have no true passion for just because you think everyone else is doing it. It’s especially ironic in this particular situation, because as the numbers show, (and we know how baseball people love numbers), fewer and fewer people are actually doing it.

All things considered, I’m still going to go back to my dentist. He’s an older man, so I’m betting that he’s forgotten about our previous encounter. Next visit, when he brings up baseball again, perhaps making some thinly veiled reference to the Fall Classic or free agency, I’ll listen to whatever he says – and then change the subject.

I know that no matter how much I’d like to challenge his basic assumption that baseball and America are irrevocably intertwined, the truth is that I’m getting too old to break in a new dentist.

Chris Seneca is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service. He can be reached at senecathehoya.com. Slow otion appears every other Tuesday.

More to Discover