Baseball. They were playing it when Lincoln was wandering the White House. It used to be the center of activity in small town across America. Girls, boys, old guys - everyone used to play. Maybe they still do in some urban areas, big cities where you can find people to do anything.
Even in little Seaton when the Blythe boys were running around, every kid had a glove and played some form of ball. We three boys played a modified game: one in the outfield, a pitcher and a catcher. We had rules and the only problem was when the pitcher wouldn't throw strikes so the hitter had to play catcher, too.
There were aspects to playing baseball that were inviolable. One was the ritual of breaking in a new glove. You had to wet the glove, put a ball in the heel and wrap it tight so it would make a kind of mold. If you had a cap you had to squeeze the brim to a half moon to the hat would not only fit but would keep the sun out of your eyes on both sides. Besides, it was just the way it was done. A bent brim was gritty - it was a symbol of a ball player.
Fast forward to present day. Sure, you still have guys like Justin Morneau, above, who look like ball players. The majority still do. The majority still realize that a ballplayer starts to look like on from the head down. However, in this hip-hop world, baseball has fallen prey to the fakers, the weird players who have forgotten how to work in a cap and who display their headware in a most decidedly non-baseball way. These guys are the ruination of the sport.
Take, for instance, this Cub above. I think his name is Arrieta. See his brim? Its like he just grabbed it off the shelf of the local sports store at the mall. Wonder if he still has the sticker on it? He has turned his back on his childhood and baseball to form a new fashion statement - Destroyer of Lore. They are called "flat-brimmers" and they are the vanguard of new school baseball. They are attempting to be cool. But, thing is, no one outside the local club scene, hip-hop dance halls, or wannabe gangsta like that look. The true baseball fan disdains this kind of knife thrust in the back of America's sport.
Also invading the sport is this look, started by Fernando Rodney, a loser has-been pitcher for a decade now. Bouncing from team to team, still pouring gas on closer situations, he has this brim-to-the-left look that several players are emulating. Just goes to show you intelligence isn't necessary to play.
Football has been America's favorite sport for a half century so one could make a case that baseball hasn't been relevant for a couple of generations. African-American attendance and participation has fallen to dangerously low levels. If these guys like wearing their caps a certain way, and the Commissioner and/or owners don't have a problem, then we fans shouldn't care either. If kids are wearing flat brim baseball caps then they are at least interested in the sport, or at the very least team logos.
Besides, baseball has always gone through fashion disasters, myriad crisis and always pulled out of them just fine.
Baseball itself is slipping - steroids, the DH, a game perceived as slow and dull, and to focus on a hat is ludicrous. The old-timers who rail against any new intrusion to their old-fashion world view should just keep quiet and let the game evolve naturally. Look at all the empty, unused, weedy, ball diamonds all across America to see that the problem is more than just a cap, it's a game that isn't attracting kids or their parents. Want to do something worthwhile? Then figure out how to get the future generations interested again, or a cantered brim will be the least remembered nail in the coffin of America's sport.
I don't know if baseball will survive its present preeminence as the number 2 sport in the country. How do you keep it going when generations of kids would rather sit in front of a computer, or play a video game, skate, or egads! play soccer? One thing is certain, a cap won't kill it.