Last weekend I was up in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, visiting family, and I was delighted to encounter incontrovertible evidence that baseball is still a point of passion for fans, at least among men of a certain age.
As we started our drive back home, my wife and I stopped at a Dunkin shop in Pittsfield, and a group of seven or eight men with gray or graying hair like mine were discussing baseball. Correction: they were arguing baseball, and it was a wonder to behold.
This was in western Massachusetts, about 130 miles from Boston and Fenway Park, so I wasn’t totally surprised that baseball would be a topic in a coffee shop on a Sunday morning. But the impassioned volume and vehemence these guys demonstrated was impressive.
It was impossible to ignore the debate, but it was a bit difficult to discern just what they were arguing about. The Yankees and Red Sox were definitely at the heart of it. One guy was reading the New York Post and griping about the post-All-Star Game tailspin the Yankees have been in. There were a few passing references to the Mets, and at one point there was vigorous debate about the relative virtues of Red Sox players of the recent past.
My wife kept suggesting that I enter the conversation but I held off — until one of the guys said the Yankees broadcasts should be shown on the Disney Channel. I cracked up laughing and gave the guy a thumbs up. I said something about how I loathe the games that get shown on YouTube and other minor-league networks, and my wife put in a good word for the Phillies and the Giants.
We had to be on our way and wished the guys well. I left the shop with a big grin, happy to know that baseball still has the capacity to stir passion in its fans.