Summer of Our Discontent

America struggles to pass the time without its national pastime

The True Fan peered out at the summer of 1981: before him stretched an endless, bleak expanse of weeks abruptly and unnaturally empty. He imagined all the stadiums padlocked, their sweet geometries of green so still that one could hear the Astroturf growing. The lazy summer inevitability that has always been one of baseball's charms (the continuum of it, the meticulous formality of its records, the lovely mythic accessibility of the sport's past to its present) now grew disheveled. Local TV stations ran ancient...

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