Why Baseball Matters (Yale University Press, 2018)


Baseball is a clockless game at odds with the shortened attention spans of technology-obsessed modern lives. It is, paradoxically, a profitable business that is losing younger fans. This is the dilemma explored by Susan Jacoby in her heartfelt but unsparing assessment of the “national pastime.” Combining her critical intelligence with love of the game, Jacoby asks what can be done to once again invest baseball with meaning for the young.

Revisiting her youthful days of watching televised baseball in her grandfather’s bar, the author dismisses nostalgia for a “pure” game and focuses on two of baseball’s biggest challenges—digitally induced loss of concentration and the relatively small proportion of teenaged, African-American, and female fans. Without sanitizing baseball’s many problems, the author reminds us that the game has, since it first became popular nationally after the Civil War, repeatedly demonstrated the ability to reinvent itself during periods of immense social change.

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