Tuesday, September 4, 2007

An unfunny lament on the state of baseball in Canada

On the one year anniversary of the tragic passing of Australia's favourite son, Steve Irwin, today is clearly not the day for humour. This is particularly true in light of another, less-publicized death. While not as heroic an ending as being stung by a stingray, nature's most ruthless killer, the death of the Ottawa Lynx is equally jarring. This weekend saw the the baseball team play their last home game of the season. The Lynx, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, were the last Triple A baseball team left in the country having outlived the Vancouver Canadians, Calgary Cannons and Edmonton Trappers. As someone who grew up following minor league baseball this is truly a sad day for our country. What does it say about us as a nation that we can no longer support professional baseball outside of the Jays (who would be on shaky ground if it weren't for the twenty or so combined home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox every year)? The Lynx join the aforementioned Triple A teams and the Montreal Expos, as well as low-minors teams like the Hamilton Cardinals and London Tigers, on an exodus south. We are now left with only one affiliated minor league baseball team, the re-formed Vancouver Canadians of the Northwest League (which I ashamedly didn't know about) as well as a handful of independent teams like the Quebec Capitales.

The first sporting events I ever attended in person were Canadians games at old Nat Bailey Stadium. I remember clearly the great minor league star/major league flameout Joey Meyer winning a playoff game with a walk-off homerun back in 1985. I used to listen to games on a small radio which I took to bed with me. In retrospect the image of a boy listening to a ballgame in bed seems like a relic of a bygone era and, sadly, I guess it is. These are very fond memories which BA and her generation will not get to experience. They'll probably be watching mixed martial arts on portable holograms after a long day of jet-packing and hovercrafting. Beyond my own personal history, Canadian minor league baseball has played a significant role in the lore of the sport as a whole. Jackie Robinson made his debut as a member of the Dodgers organization in Montreal before being called up to Brooklyn while Babe Ruth hit his first professional homerun in Toronto.

I guess this is all part of my broader disappointment with the apparent decline of baseball in the hearts of minds of Canada's youth. I grew up enamored with the sport and still am to this day. Unfortunately the strategy and numerology of baseball, not to mention its relatively relaxed pace, is the antithesis of what seems to appeal to the masses these days. I seriously worry about what will become of a generation that spurned more traditional team sports while gawking at idiotic exhibitions such as UFC like hillbillies at an air show.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lay off the UFC old man.......things aren't the same as they were in the 60's when you were a kid!