Well, it has been a busy couple of days… For some strange reason, I was sidetracked during work yesterday so I spent very little time writing, mostly just reading. Recently, there was debate was sparked over cheating in baseball – did the Tigers pitcher truly only have dirt on his hand, or was there something else? So, I spent most of my downtime (read – moments between phone calls) reading up on past Baseball events – the World Series in particular.
In addition to the World Series history in general, I also spent a good bit of the afternoon reading about the infamous 1919 Series. I’m sure you’ve heard about it… the “Black Sox” scandal – the basis for the movies “Eight Men Out” and partial influence for “Field of Dreams”. I’ve always been drawn to “EMO” since I first saw it years ago… maybe it was the setting in a lost age, or just how the story was told more from Bucky’s point of view.
One thing I found interesting in the reading from yesterday, though, is some of the information on how the league setups were back then – fundamentally no heirarchal establishment (when compared to today’s system). No brainer, right? Remember, though, that when we grow up in an age where things are constant, that is all we know, and we have to stretch to understand how things used to be.
Nowadays – there would be no outlet for playing professional ball if a player were blacklisted (unless I am missing a technicality). Minor league teams are considered extensions of the Major league teams; a proving ground for cultivating their future talent.
Then – farm leagues were available and players could still make decent money playing the game. Granted, they would still be working “day jobs” sometimes, and definitely during the off-season (and that is just based on the economy of the times).
It was also entertaining (even, unfortunately, a bit depressing) to read about the “old” fields… the storied homes of baseball that I had heard about (mostly from old movies, or films set in those times) but didn’t realize were gone – Comisky and Ebbits, among others. Places designed for the game, but eventually cast away for the sake of progress.
I find myself being sentimental over lost architecture in general though. I’m due to travel to New York in a few weeks, travelling by train. Our arrival – the storied Penn Station, but not the real Penn Station – that mythical building was gone before I was born, another victim of progress. (The underground station and rails are still there, but above ground is now home to Madison Square Gardens.)
Weird how I start on baseball and end up on architecture, but not really. Progress is enevitable. The only constant is change. (“Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.” – Rush, Tom Sawyer) We look around us today and dream about living in other times – being able to see these great players, or go to those wonderful buildings. It’s that longing for our perceptions of times beyond our grasp, of creating mental images in our dreams that likely pale to the reality.
We spend a lot of time in the moment criticizing individuals, judging quicker in the court of public opinion than evidence and investigations warrant. History, however only judges based on the evidence. Great buildings and great players fade with age and are eventually forgotten, replaced by the “now” things, or compared with those that are decades apart.
While cheating is not condoned, we lose sight of the human perspective – that players may have been justified to engage in misconduct (in 1919 there was no player’s union to ensure pay). Unfortunately, any truth that may have been found, any vindication that may have been sought has likely passed into the footnotes of history. Players seeking redemption, buildings seeking occupants and a world begging to be seen – constantly being ground under the heels of progress.