Baseball no longer a supergiant but it is still the most American of sports
The World Series does not consume the US as it formerly did. But baseball still offers a space on the best and the worst of America
Baseball has long looked itself as America’s game, a game as great-hearted, humble and fundamentally good as America itself. And for the better part of the 20 th-century, at the least to its implementation of the game’s vogue, baseball was surely America’s game, and its biggest virtuosoes were acclaimed in such a way that athletes simply aren’t acclaimed anymore. Devotees in the 1920 s traveled hundreds of miles really to witness Babe Ruth, and the New York Daily News hired a journalist to write about Ruth, and only Ruth, 365 days a year. The most well known players of later eras- like Ruth, they tended to be Yankees- grew not only sporting icons but national representations of myth. That they tended to be human in all the familiar unflattering rooms- Joe DiMaggio was an icy, exploitive jackas; Mickey Mantle a self-destructive alcoholic for much of their own lives- was never allowed to jeopardize the lore. In an period before video ratings, the World Series was not just the nation’s most well known boasting occasion, but something like a national holiday.
This hasn’t been the case for some time, and this year’s World Series- which starts on Tuesday and boasts one of the country’s most famous teams, the Los Angeles Dodger, against the Houston Astros- is unlikely to change problems. The NFL, in all its Trump-ian shamelessness, has been the most popular tournament in the United States for more than a decade. The NBA, which has the youngest and most diverse fanbase of the major US boasts leagues- it has the highest TV viewership among African Americans and the second-highest among Hispanics- seems to have a more credible assertion on the future.