The art of baseball

Baseball (A5 sketchbook page/ ink/ 2018)

I have a theory about baseball: I don’t think it’s a sport at all, but rather a type of performance art.

At the risk of offending readers in the US, as a sport it’s pretty unexciting: there’s a lot of standing around, no-one ever seems to hit the ball and, if they do, it’s nearly always caught or they get run out.

Seen as performance art, however, it’s fascinating. The costumes, the many rituals, that weird rule that someone on first or second base can run unless the pitcher spots him, the movements of the individual players, the organ accompaniment that offers an ironic musical commentary on the action (or lack of it) – all of this adds up to a rather ritualistic type of performance.

Have you ever seen a field full of rabbits? It has a similar dynamic: the rabbits appear to move in a predestined way which might appear random at first but soon suggests a bigger pattern. Are they being controlled or do they know when it’s their turn in the game?

I’ve developed this theory after seeing one game. I was fortunate enough to be invited to a baseball game the last time I was in the US, and I expected to enjoy the hot-dogs and beer thing but be bored senseless by the actual play (I’d seen it on TV once and it made drying paint look edgy…). In fact the game was compelling: seeing the field as a whole, instead of just close-ups of the players as happens on TV, was what suggested performance art. What’s more, at one stage I went downstairs to the men’s room and hundreds of people were waiting in line for food and drink – it was like a parallel event down there: a festival of deep-fried food, perhaps?

I drew the two batters (never batsmen, I was informed) above from photographs I took at the game. I would like to thank Jim and Susie for introducing me to this new and unforgettable artform, masquerading as a sport.

13 thoughts on “The art of baseball

  1. I found the same! Went to an LA dodgers game when visiting over there and it’s as much about what’s going on around you as the players.I found myself looking for the baseball thinking it had been hit, when it was in the keepers glove and what I’d heard was the sound of it thumping the glove, not the bat!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The point? The point? I think you’ve missed it….it’s the guy who wades into the stands and hawks the hotdogs, peanuts and beer from the tray that’s strapped to his…his….self! Now THAT’S performance art. I think the best hotdog I ever ate was handled by 8 people before it was passed and then made its way to my center aisle seat.

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  3. Baseball is best either in person or on the radio. I find that it’s not to everyone’s taste even here in the US though(like everything else I guess). Why do I like it? Im not sure, but it’s always interesting to me.
    I like how you caught the open stance. I don’t know how they can hold some of those batting stances, but those are interesting to me too! (K)

    Liked by 1 person

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