Friday, January 31, 2014

The Future of Baseball

Last night, I dreamed that I was taking my oldest son to go practice hitting for baseball.  But it was in a not too distant future where overpopulation was a very real thing and space was very limited.  The game had been completely modified from what I grew up with.  Hell, the game had been completely modified from what my boy and I were playing last year.

Because space was limited, they'd cut out all the plates except home and the pitchers mound.  And the playing field was only about 10 foot wide by 25 foot long.  On the 25 foot sides where cement bleachers and entertainment was as such a low that the stands were full of people who just wanted to watch two people practice.  It was closed at the end behind the hitter with a sheer wall put there to protect the homes that crowded right up to it and open at the end behind the pitcher so you could go get the ball if the hitter was particularly skilled.  There was a street right past the opening, so you had be careful when chasing the ball.

They were even selling popcorn.  The world was full of watchers.  And very few doers.  So my boy stepped up to the plate and I stepped up to the mound...and I realized that the two were in touching distance.  Seriously, I was within arms reach of my son, and he I...and that meant I was well within the hitting range of his bat.  I started to back up and people were hissing that I wasn't playing it right.  I ignored them because I couldn't for the life of me figure out 1.  how the design of this place had been approved by anyone who actually played the game 2.  how I was supposed to be able to throw a ball less than 2 feet from myself and 3. how the hell he was supposed to really hit the ball and not clock me at that distance.  So I stepped out to the proper distance and lobbed a ball.  And he nailed it.

There was a LOT of oooing and ahhing from the crowd.  They'd never seen baseball played like this.  As I went running down the lane to catch the ball and he went running for the spots we'd designated in the space as 'bases'.  It bounced and rolled and I scooped up the grounder then took off running after him to tag him.  He and I laughing all the while and the crowd looking on in shock and wonder.  Physical activity was apparently another thing from the past we'd brought with us.  I tagged him just as he was reaching home plate and announced him "Safe!"  then headed back to the mound.  And suddenly there was an umpire and floating television cameras and an even bigger crowd in an already packed stadium.

I didn't want to put on a show.  I just wanted to practice with my boy.  And they wanted us to play a full game.  With two people.  And no sides.  I tried to explain that baseball needed more people.  And more space.  But they weren't interested.  So I figured we'd just keep practicing.  But his second hit, a pop fly went over the crowd to the left and it started a stampeed of people trying to escape.  Huh.  Turns out they -do- remember how to run.  If they think they're going to have to get involved.  Anyway, as I gathered up the ball that came bouncing down the now empty bleachers, and put my arm around my son, we decided that was enough excitement for one day and I woke up.

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