Saturday, April 09, 2005

Wait 'til last year!

Baseball season is underway, a fact that has gone amazingly unremarked upon in this space, considering it generally occupies around 73 percent of my waking thoughts by the time the pennant race comes along.

This season has felt a little different, though. I made it to three spring training games, which is right around average, and while the whole sense of renewal that baseball writers forever prattle on about (and which one of my college professors related to the bizarre category of ‘anthropological vegetation myths’) was still there, there’s been something vaguely lacking – something intangible until recently.

It hit me as yet another person asked for my opinion on Ken Jennings. The “Jeopardy!” gazillionaire. I was on “Jeopardy!” a few years back. I even won a couple of games, collecting more money in the span of an hour than I made in my first two years as a radio news guy in small-town Iowa. (And on the third day, I came in third place, entitling me, in part, to a supply of Centrum Silver, which I’ve never received – though the prize may kick in when I turn 65.)

But for a while, when people found out that I’d been on “Jeopardy!”, the standard question was, “So what’s Alex Trebek actually like?” (Interestingly, in the couple of months before I was on “Jeopardy!”, the standard question was, “They send you the questions in advance, right?”, to which I’d reply, “No, you must have me confused with a game show contestant in 1958.”) Alex was cool. Though he did warm up the audience by announcing that he’d passed – on the first try – every contestant search test for the previous six years. Johnny Gilbert, the studio announcer, warmed up the crowd by wearing a silver satin jacket visible from the planet Neptune.

Anyway, since the whole Ken Jennings thing, people have been seeking my pronouncement on the phenomenon. I haven’t really had one, since I haven’t watched “Jeopardy!” more than a dozen times since I was on the show. My rationale: I spent roughly 10 years watching the show, saying “I could beat these clowns,” sometimes to myself, sometimes out loud, sometimes in French (“Je pourrais battre ces clowns”). Then, I beat a few of those clowns, including one guy who wore a velvet smoking jacket. Now, I’m back to yelling “Higher!” at the contestants on “The Price Is Right”.

So, to return to our initial topic (The Diet of Worms? Apple Danish? Clorox? Oh yes, baseball.), I’ve been a Red Sox fan since I became a baseball fan – April 1975. Until last October, I foolishly harbored the notion that the Red Sox might actually win the World Series. When they were up, 3 games to none, against the Cardinals, it still seemed a little far-fetched that they might actually win the Series. Round about the 7th inning of Game 4, the notion became a little less foolish.

Flash forward to April 2005. Oh, that’s right – you don’t have to flash anywhere. It is April 2005. The suspense, the thrill of the chase, the sexual tension of what would happen if the Red Sox were to actually win a World Series – is gone. Worse yet, we’re confronted with Sox cap-clad Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore jumping up and down on our TV screens in ads for “Fever Pitch” every 20 minutes.

So I’m still watching baseball, secure in the knowledge that it still beats the crap out of televised poker, but a little nonplussed by that lack of suspense. Of course, Boston hosts the Yankees next week, and they’re currently tied in the American League East standings, and the Red Sox get their championship rings on Monday, and Curt Schilling comes off the disabled list and… Oh, hell. I guess I can get back into it… for just one more season. (And what time is “Jeopardy!” on?)

1 comment:

Carol Davidson said...

I'll take Pennant Race for $500, Alex.

Pretty cool that you were a contestant. Your "Price is Right" line made me literally laugh out loud.