You know, the ol’ “Love letter to baseball” column is not a new invention. In fact, it’s dangerously close to becoming a template, a self-parodying Mad-Lib style crutch for us sports writers to forge an easy emotional connection with our readers. But even after the droves of personal anecdotes and over-eager declarations of October magic bringing back our national pastime, there will always be a significant faction of the American sports audience who simply don’t “get” baseball.
And for as long as that misunderstanding continues, we writers will continue to send our love letters, hoping in due time those poor unfortunate souls will learn to savor the earthy sweetness of a ball cracking off the meaty barrel of a bat.
Sunday evening’s World Series spectacle is only the latest near-spiritual experience validating our tolerance for Major League Baseball’s 162-game regular season slog. It’s the type of game that spontaneously draws entire communities together — we all stayed up and put off those last three episodes of Stranger Things to marvel at Cody Bellinger’s heroics. We hopped on our family group chats when Jose Altuve tied the score at 7-all, and checked our increasingly hilarious Twitter timelines as the game surged towards what seemed like inevitable extra innings five hours after its opening pitch.
At least some of you reading this joined me in the McDonald’s drive-thru for some midnight McDoubles afterward, and I’m willing to bet even then you were all still talking about it — still watching Alex Bregman’s walk-off hit to the tune of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Still enjoying the afterglow of the very best baseball had to offer.
It’s such a joy to feel a part of something so wild and unscripted. It’s why entire cities rally around their hometown teams this time of year, sports fans or not. Capturing the emotion of a live sporting event in any medium is a difficult task, but in some cases — cases like Sunday’s World Series game 5 — you just have to be there, sitting on your couch with the nearest pillow held tight, locked into every pitch and foul ball and stolen base to truly “get” it.
There’s another chance Tuesday night to be a part of something, and if this letter does nothing else for you, I hope it at least counts as a standing invitation. Do yourself a favor — don’t miss it.