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Essay: I Just Think About Not Thinking About Baseball

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Sometimes the only redeeming thing about watching a sport is the snacks.

Lake Effect essayist Jonathan West is not our regular sports contributor, and here’s why:

Truth be told, I can't every imagine being interested in uttering the words, "I think about baseball," to explain a clever tactic to tamp down some lusty passion. And with another World Series tidily wrapped up and put away for the season, you could say that I hit for the cycle once again.

Another year has passed, plenty of double plays have been turned and bats have cracked, and close to home the Chorizo surely ended up having a better foot race record than the Italian. Through it all, my awareness of box scores has been nil, and I've never been in peril of taking a foul ball to the noggin because I was distracted stuffing four bratwursts into my mouth while thousands of great mean and women with breath reeking of peanuts and crackerjack were waiting for the seventh inning stretch. I spent less than thirty-seven seconds watching professional baseball this year.

Now if you're hacked off because you think I have some particular bias against baseball, take an extra chew on that wad of tobacco tucked into your cheek and calm down. I'm an equal opportunity avoider of professional and collegiate versions of football, basketball and all other manner of ball sports where a group of people in a stadium or arena might be found yukking it up doing the wave.

There are names for a guy like me. Un-American. Teenage girl. Comatose. Sane. Please understand, I'm not ducking watching professional sports because I hate them. I'd never be caught making that claim. I mean, I'm a pretty big chicken, and I'm pretty scared that a hunky defensive tackle might pummel me until I look like an underinflated pigskin. Any of you pro jocks listening - it's not you, it's me. Now go away and let me get back to actively avoiding your work in peace.

The lack of time I spend cheering on the home team offers me zero remorse. I believe it is my duty to not be able to contribute to a Monday morning conversation about how our offense needs to step it up or what a travesty the final foul was before the shot clock ran out. I'm playing an important role in the balance of the universe as I consider my outstanding commitment to watching sporting events on big screen televisions displayed by my own father and brother. I love these guys, and they belong in some sort of sitting and watching televised sports hall of fame. They have found a way to watch twenty-five hours of sporting events in the span of a normal day. It's some sort of dark magic they've conjured up, and special alchemy I assume that these two tax attorneys understand because of some triple secret part of the tax code that I'll never take the time to read.

If you are waiting for some "holier than thou" report about how I've filled my time avoiding professional sports by volunteering with shut-ins or learning how to speak French, I hope that you're not holding your breath. If you might be interested in hearing the plot lines of old police procedurals or a list of ideas for new potato chip flavors, I'm quite confident that I can give you compelling evidence of my mastery of squandering valuable time. My lack of any notable positive achievements while it's fourth and ten and the special teams are being called in is awe inspiring, or, if you will, "nah" inspiring.

But I'm not a total pariah, and there is one sweaty event that always prompts me to dabble with turning the television on to a professional sporting event. I'm a sucker for the Superbowl. Not that I really watch the game...I mean why stare at something that I understand about as much as differential calculus? I revel in sharing in this spectacle with folks who own more team gear than clean underwear. This national celebration of knocking into each other to move a piece of leather from one end of a grassy field to the other is the one time of the year when the great watchers and unwatchers of sporty gaming come together in harmony around an important sacred truth. As everyone knows, on the biggest of big game days, the pigs in a blanket always taste best when served hot before half-time.

Jonathan West is a Milwaukee writer, actor, director, and rabid sports fan who is currently working as the Pfister Narrator at the Pfister Hotel.

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