October 2011

A game most foul

By David Feela

This October, who is to say which will be scarier, Halloween or the World Series.

The public is led to believe that professional sports represent the epitome of good health and physical fitness in their players. If you’re a baseball fan, you’re probably snickering by now. I know, some of these guys are not in the best shape, and they also have habits that can turn a spectator’s stomach. In both the dugout and the locker room there probably are other habits we may not want to talk about, and we’re lucky they don’t often allow television cameras in there either.

The advent of widescreen, digital television claimed to usher in an era of unparalleled spectator enthusiasm. As Queen Victoria might have said had she been born a baseball fan, I am not enthused. Actually, the only baseball I ever watch tends to occur when I’m on the couch with my relatives in Minnesota. They watch a ton of baseball, and at least a couple more tons of other sports each spring, fall, and winter. Their couches sag, and they all own big televisions.

If you’ve stayed with me this far, no doubt you’re beginning to suspect I have nothing good to say about baseball, our good old American pastime. But I do own a film Ken Burns completed — 10 DVD discs and 1,140 minutes — and he never mentioned the subject I want to discuss.

You see, this summer I finally understood why watching baseball may be beneficial, even healthy. I found I can lose about a pound of weight every nine innings, and up to three pounds during a doubleheader. All I have to do is sit in front of a 60-inch high-definition plasma-screen television at a friend’s home and watch these professionals spit. The spectacle kills my appetite.

Yes, I said spit, though I could have said hocking a loogie. That guttural whoosh that resonates deep in the chest and ends with a plug of part snot and part saliva forcibly ejected from one’s mouth. To cough up a phlegm wad. Sputum, spittle, snot ball, slobber, drool. You know, spit. That disgusting little habit that makes men men.

My understanding of basic biology reminds me the body is composed mostly of water, and spitting as often as professional baseball players spit must account for their attempt at staying fit. Water holds extra weight. I don’t know how else to explain it. We amateurs might try to imitate the pros during the off-season by inviting a few neighbors over and spitting into a bucket (once fashionably known as a spittoon), or even more disgusting, we could film our get-togethers and upload them to YouTube. There’s no telling what it takes to get the spit to hit the fans.

If America wasn’t so stuck with the program of rotating its sports seasons, baseball’s major leagues could operate a successful weight-loss clinic in its off season, bringing in millions of additional revenue dollars. All the producers would have to do is zoom in on the constant flow of spit the players produce, not on the baseball.

They might call this new season, “Spitball.” There might even be a slogan, something like “Drop unwanted pounds of weight, watch our athletes expectorate.”

Whoever wins the World Series would ultimately be irrelevant. Well, maybe not entirely irrelevant. Go ahead, continue to cheer for the Rockies, or whatever team you choose, and maybe our support will help that team win a World Series during some future fantasy season, but I’d be satisfied watching a few professional baseball games on a big-screen television with my friends if we could also get serious about losing (weight, of course).

David Feela writes from Montezuma County, Colo.