As my throngs of fans on Twitter know, I got a borrowed iPod Touch and the At Bat app for it. Today was a long day made even longer by my wonderful pair of out-of-their-minds children. One couldn’t stop moving and the other couldn’t stop throwing up. While I was making dinner. Fun.
After my small dish of dinner, I took my cocktail and my iPod outside. I turned up the volume as loud as I could and closed my eyes. The sounds of the ballpark came from this tinny little device on the table. The constant buzz of the crowd, escalating as a tough inning was closed by the home pitcher, made up the background for the announcer.
There’s a language to baseball. It’s an auditory game. You can listen to the balls and strikes, the outs, the pitches thrown, who is on base. When you hear all that, the game gets painted into your mind. You know who’s up and who’s waiting to bat. There’s a story forming.
Each half of the inning is its own tale. And there is time between pitches and events to talk about the past, talk about what’s going on in the city around the team, and what other teams have been up to. You feel a part of it no matter how distant.
As the season rolls on, the story gets more interesting. History has been happening, changing the scenery itself behind each and every pitch. As with life, you rarely see it happen at the time. But when you look back, suddenly the world is different.
Still, through it all, it’s all baseball. That tinny little voice on the table next to me, all simply, grainy radio waves with the same commercials between each change in sides.
My iPod has an app that shows the pitch-by-pitch movement of the game. To do that, it connects to my wireless network. From the router creating that network is a wire to a cable modem. The cable modem is what connects my home to the giant and strange ethereal world known as the Internet. At some other point on the internet is the home of Major League Baseball. This is the collective home for all the information and broadcasts coming from all the ballparks across our lovely continent.
So the announcer’s voice goes into his microphone, the signal carrying wire moving it to the local broadcaster. The local broadcaster sends it out to the central company who then distributes it to other outside stations, namely my local station. Then, over the air, that voice manages to reach my device, coming out small and tinny, yet clear, to tell me that there was a popup to left field, the runner on first tags up, the throw to second, not in time!
My son joined me for a bit out there on the deck. We didn’t last outside for long. April in Minnesota is still cold after dark. We sat there, listening to the voice, drinks at our ready. His milk, my adult beverage.
And it’s been like this for what is quickly closing in on 100 years. The adage of the story?
Though the technology may change, the point remains the same.
He hits it high! He hits it deep! This one is… outta here! – Duane Kuiper, through my youth, joyfully over and over again.