Flip on the television (sometime between Christmas and the Vernal Equinox, when the next series begins) and you will see the traditional diamond, the chalked lines, neatly trimmed playing field just as your uncle Schlomo and previous generations knew it. Though there have certainly been changes — for example, advertisements everywhere inundating the senses and orifices to no end — the game has continued virtually unabated for the better part of a decade. That also goes for something you may not see on television, the dugout.
I’ll never forget the time I walked into a postgame Major League dugout: the larger than life professional athletes, the endless supply of Bazooka and Gatorade, and the horrific scene on the floor that could probably have caused a mortician to weep. Words don’t quite describe the site that I saw, but imagine if someone from that TV show “Hoarders” lived in a freshman’s college dorm room and invited some people over from the local repository, you would get a better image.
Sunflower seeds, discarded bubble gum wrappers, trash of all shapes and colors, spittle and tobacco juice help to paint a portrait on the floor of the dugout so abstract it would make Pablo Picasso jealous. I think I now know what T.S. Eliot was writing about when he penned The Waste Land after the experience that day. The only thing missing was a trio of witches and maybe an eye of newt or toe of frog to recreate a scene straight out of Macbeth.
If that would have been the end of it, fine, but to complete the illusion just try to envision what happens when you gather 25 athletes of varying perspiration along with the coaching staff in a rather small, enclosed area for the better part of three hours. One would think that such a miasma would have traumatized a then-boychick like me into avoiding sports for eternity, and eventually seeking out state-supported institutionalization.
Fortunately, attending baseball games, where the stench of garlic and watered-down beer flowing down the steps meshed with crushed Dodger Dogs and Cool-a-Coos helped to ease the trauma. I still have never really understood the ubiquity in baseball of hocking up balls of mucous the size of a small Caribbean island and the occasional pick (it’s going from first to third base, not knuckle). You typically don’t see this behavior in a sport like basketball, perhaps for safety purposes. However, generations of baseball players have been using the dugout and playing field like a giant spittoon.
Granted, dugouts have been enlarged since the days of Alexander Cartwright and handlebar mustaches, but is it too much of a hassle to actually swallow the Gatorade they have consumed instead of spraying it everywhere like some Roman fountain? Heck, I’ve never been inside the house of a Major League player, perhaps their interior looks like a scene from that old, campy Nickelodeon show Double Dare. I doubt that Marc Summers is waiting by the door for some unsuspecting sap to walk through in order to pour a giant cauldron of slime on them … Wait, I haven’t heard from him in 20 years, perhaps he is.
The pundits argue that the game should be “cleaned up,” they are referencing off-the-field shenanigans, when they should really be taking a look at the open sewer that has befallen the subterranean Warlocks that inhabit the Major League dugout. This is one man’s plea to find a way to clean up the toxic dump that has been festering at a ballpark near you. Maybe a marketing opportunity for Hefty or Rubbermaid, perhaps? Now, about the Dodgers’ batting average ….