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Wood's Word: America's pastime becomes a past time

The month of July provides the wonderful opportunity to reflect upon our great nation and its history. And, as Yankee Doodle’s favorite sports columnist, I can’t help but recognize that grand old part of sports history that so well defines our nation. I write, of course, of baseball.

America’s greatest pastime! Of course!  Where would we be without “The Babe,” “Beantown,” “The Splendid Splinter,” “Murderer’s Row,” “Mr. October,” “Pudge,” “A-Rod,” “K-Rod,” or even “Biscuit Pants”? (That’s right! “Biscuit Pants.”)  Baseball is steeped in American history and has played a large role in creating the melting pot that is the USA. And whether it be the feel of a new glove or the sound of the crack of the bat, we have been able to find comfort in the sport throughout our busy lives.

The only problem is that, as time goes on and culture changes, we find that America’s Greatest Pastime might be becoming just that — a “past” time.

As much as I love the one sport I was able to somewhat successfully play growing up (except for the whole “hitting” part), it appears to be inevitable to me that our country is lacking interest, and a decreasing popularity in the wonderful world of baseball is looming.

Voting for the 2012 All-Star game ended this week. Did you know that it had started? (I had no idea.)

According to, statistics show a steady decline in the overall television rating and number of viewers that the World Series receives each year. But I understand. Why would you watch the World Series on a brisk night in October when you could be watching So You Think You’re the Next Great Top American Dancing Singer?

Some might argue that watching baseball is not the most exciting experience. This can be true. Maybe it’s an acquired taste. Others might argue that actually playing baseball is just as slow. This, also, can be true. But what better opportunity will you have to learn more about the different types of grass and dirt than when playing right field? And when the ball finally comes your way as it rolls along that sweet Buffalo grass, you will hardly contain the joy and satisfaction you feel as you send the ball on its way — all the way to the “cutoff man”!  How about that?! Great throw!

In a world where connections and networks and tweets can be managed at the touch of a screen, it’s easy to overlook something as slow-paced, relaxing and enjoyable as baseball. And when it comes to convenience, baseball may be anything but. Who would want to gather 18 whiny kids from their neighborhood when it’s easier to log in and play a bunch of people from Japan – all while enjoying the comfort of your own basement?

The point is, with the rest of the world flying around us, why not take a minute to put on a glove, go outside and throw a ball with someone you care about? Take a few minutes to learn the profound, historical effect this game has had on our country, and why it means so much to us. Increase your patience and sit through an entire doubleheader in mid-July. If nothing else, at least it’s an excuse to sit down and eat a hot dog.

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