Last Saturday, while I convened with Master Cistulli regarding the Discretionary NERD Scores for that day’s games, the Master — past whom nothing gets — noticed, via an uninvited glance at my desktop, my Largely Unnecessary, Decidedly Large, Neatly Organized, and Fully Computerized Collection of Digital Baseball Images.
“Why do you have so many images that, one guesses, might be easily found on the internet at any given time?” Master Cistulli asked, not without the condescension common in those who readily identify themselves as both “raised in the Northeast” and “fond of boarding schools.”
My initial response — “For ease of access” — has become unsatisfactory to me in retrospect, and has caused, of late, something of an existential crisis. It should probably be noted, though, that something as minor as one of my cats sneezing is enough to send me into hours of contemplation and deep feelings of meaninglessness.
So why have I right-clicked so many baseball images, saved them to my desktop, opened them in Photoshop, adjusted their size and resolution, saved them with new names, and filed them neatly into desktop folders and sub-folders and sometimes sub-sub-folders?
I will often save non-baseball images as well — mostly of art and design things that I like — but I usually just dump them into one general folder, sans alteration; only the baseball images are obsessively altered, renamed, and cataloged. Part of it, I think, is that I am neurotically tidy about a few particular things. Part of it is the tenderness that I feel towards baseball, despite its ability to infuriate me, to make me depressed or inadequate — but maybe that’s it: while baseball is perpetually creating data and news bits, storylines and points of interest, I’m trying to hold onto some of those moments in order to make sense of them, or in order to emerse myself in them, to feel a part of them — even if I wasn’t conscious of them at the time they happened, let alone alive at that time. This obsession, like all obsessions, is probably unhealthy; this obsession, like many obsessions, is probably deeply rooted in insecurity.
Because no matter what, I’m always going to feel like something of a baseball outsider. I’ve never played seriously, and no matter how much I think I know about the game from the standpoint of statistics or trivia or news or whatever, I’m always going to feel that so many people know so much more than me (and that feeling will always be justified). Slowly, though, I’m becoming less depressed by that idea as I am increasingly feeling part of a community of intelligent and open-minded fans who are aware of their love of the game and their position within said strange e-community. As that continues, maybe I’ll begin to delete some of these files, to be happy merely to know that baseball will be there for me — on the internets! — when I need it. I’ll start to focus more on the feeling of being alive in a community.