Watching Baseball Is Type 2 Fun
By Ben Tyler Elliott
October 4, 2022
Baseball is compelling in part because it is an endless test of patience and endurance. No other sport brings so vividly to life the tedium of indeterminate waiting. And therein lies its specific appeal.
Baseball is delay made manifest. It is loitering coupled with statistics.
Some people might not understand why anyone would watch baseball. It’s slow. It’s repetitive. And the worse your team is, the longer most losses tend to take.I’m looking at you, 2017 Giants [64–98].
So why do I watch? Because I adore Type 2 fun.
What is Type 2 Fun?
For the unfamiliar: Type 2 fun is fun in retrospect.
It’s a long hike up a Sisyphean mountain.
It’s every not-your-toddler’s birthday party anyone has ever been to.
It’s a shambling-drunk vision quest through the 3 A.M. streets of London in June 2008 and trying your hostel key on the front door of every house on the wrong block.
It’s not the most thrilling way to spend your time, basically. But there is a certain satisfaction that comes from just getting through it.
Why Watching Baseball is the Zenith of Type 2 Fun
First of all, there’s the sheer length of the games. They can go on for hours and hours, with no guarantee that anything interesting will happen.
Secondly, there are no timeouts or breaks in the action in baseball. This is because the game itself is a kind of timeout. The action is what happens when people forget to stand around.
Finally, there’s the fact that baseball games are, in essence, nothing but downtime. There are long pauses between pitches, and even longer pauses between innings. Most of the time the camera is scanning the crowd for anything interesting to broadcast.
Even replay reviews begin with the manager holding up a hand to ask for some extra time to decide whether they’re going to decide to ask the umpires to call an entirely different team of umpires across the fucking country who will reconsider the on-field decision and, after an arbitrary delay during which we can only assume that the Mystery Umpires, who are neither seen nor heard, must first search for their eyeglasses before considering the play in question and rendering a final, capricious decision—even if it’s the same decision as the first umpires, who are still standing there, just there, doltish and gassy, two forestalled zeppelins without an arrival gate adrift above their destination, exuding ennui and a certain comportment for which English does not have a careful word but could coarsely be described as a frigid sort of beige, just standing there waiting, the radio vamping, filling time, waiting with words while the umpires stand there in this moment’s temporal center, just where they’ve stood, fulcrums for nothing, they and we each again as disparate, deaf-blind notes in that atonal dirge we comprise, it wordless and haunting, far-flung, the lot of us alone together as endling whales beneath a cold, sunless sea of longing for those unthanked days when decisions were decisions, and runs could be outs, and consequences were exactly that.
It’s the waiting, you see. In the circle of life, it is the abject waiting of it all that seasons our suffer, and that suffer is what moves us all through despair and hope, through faith and love—until, at last, we find our place on the Path unwinding.
But that is baseball’s intrinsic beauty, is I guess what I’m saying.
Because in those long stretches of purloined time, we, as witnesses to yon millionaires standing around a green, green field in their pajamas, get to daydream and imagine all sorts of possibilities…
Maybe this will be the inning where everything changes, and the team that’s been losing this game since early last week will start socking dingers left, right, and center.
Maybe I’ll find a lucrative, satisfying career.
Maybe this will be the moment when our MVP catcher’s left ankle and shin will be liquefied as he gets trucked on a play at the plate.
And yet the game remains, as ever, marking time. For me, it remains as the season about which my years will revolve. For you, I don’t care. Not because I don’t careWhich is true. , but because there’s nothing that you, or I, or Rob ManfredMajor League Baseball’s current Commissioner, upon whom I wish no specific ill will, but whose tenure’s end I will celebrate by setting off fireworks during the nearest and soonest Little League game I can find. and can do to change the game’s torpid nature.
We, its audience and its prisoner, can do little more than acknowledge that the game remains as a room, it gilded and familiar, in which we can sit for a while and enjoy those moments when we don’t want to do anything, but don’t want to miss out on anything either.
So come inside with me and crack a beverage. Grab a seat near the window and admire this place, this life, this marvelous room we might share again for a while, or forever. Buy a hot dog if your credit score is good enough, and complain about it to a neighbor.
Stand for the anthem, or don’t, and/or remove your cap, or don’t—but be decisive and somber in owning those choices, and save the proselytizing for football season. Cue fighter jets scorching low and loud. Colored smoke. Missing Man formation in remembrance of something collectively memorable.
Nod your head once or twice, look around. Clap if needs be. Replace and/or adjust your cap and smack your mitt a couple two, three good pumps, and resolve to keep your head on a swivel for the foul ball that must surely, probably, someday come sailing our way.
Doors lock from the outside.