The American Brand part 1

Americas legacy to the world as defined by Ken Burns (a very insightful and entertaining documentarian) will be The US Constitution, Jazz and Baseball. I accept that definition is as good as any other, even though many spins can be put on us, the synthesis of Americas brand lies in these 3 elements.

Baseball is the quintessential American experience. It was invented during the budding years of the republic by freedom loving Americans who were living life with more opportunity than any other place in the world. So the game reflects that spirit. It typifies the Pioneer Work Ethic that defined American Exceptionalism.

It doesn’t have to be a professional game either. In fact there are many more amateur baseball players than professional that provide almost as much enjoyment watching kids playing the game as professionals. It helps to have played and coached but it is not a requisite to enjoyment.

Almost as much fun is the operative phrase. Watching two groups of adult athletes playing a child’s game as good as it can be played is a delight that is hard to beat. Walking into the stadium and seeing the perfect field of green carpet grass laid out with white lines and red clay has a calming impact on the senses. Hearing the ball smack off of bats and into gloves builds excitement and then the pitcher throws the first pitch and the game is underway. All other concerns of the daily grind just drain right out of one and the game begins a new chapter in everyone’s life. Baseball does not have a clock, time ends when the game starts and begins again as you file back to the real world.

I went to a game recently (one of many hundreds) and marveled at the panoply of Americana on display at the stadium. Although there have been some changes in baseball, it remains basically the same game as it was when played in cow fields during lulls in the Civil War. As technology has changed, that part of it that can enhance enjoyment has evolved. There are huge electronic scoreboards reflecting the digital technology pioneered in Silicon Valley.Television and Satellites transmit the game globally. All kinds of animated characters and Disney like activities help entertain the crowd during inning changes when the field action slows. Food and beverage service has always been a delight to the fans and although the menus have greatly expanded the basics are still there, Coca Cola, beer, McDonalds, hot dogs, and a regional variety reflecting local cuisine.

The players on the field reflect the true diversity of America; white, black, Asian, Hispanic are all represented, it has become a true melting pot. In fact baseball led the way in integrating America as wave after wave of immigration diversified the nation’s population the game adapted. Players come in all sizes and from all faiths, baseball does not discriminate. The game is widely popular throughout much of the world. Japan, Latin America, Cuba all have rabid baseball fans. Fan bases are growing in Scandinavia, Europe and even Africa. We have exported Americas Brand well, for the enjoyment of the “free world.”

Of course it took American Entrepreneurs to deliver all of this American Brand. Asa Candler (Coca Cola), Walt Disney, Ray Kroc (McDonalds) Leland Stanford (Stanford University has fueled Silicon Valley). And one of the greatest baseball entrepreneurs Branch Rickey who hired Jackie Robinson which began baseballs true diversification and the complete integration of sports in America well before the civil rights movements of the 60’s. (i.e. before social legislation mandated) These great Republican Americans are examples of how market capitalism works. It is a positive and successful narrative so few citizens talk about. Ironically it is the brand that the rest of the world embraces and fights for, the freedom to make economic choices. Can you imagine a world without Coke, Golden Arches, Mickey Mouse, Silicon Valley and Baseball?



7 Responses

  1. Nice, pt. And would you agree that while there is that technology you speak of, baseball as a game has changed not at all. It’s still about skill. It’s still about hitting the ball with the bat. It’s still about throwing best and running fast. The umpires still call the shots. It’s straightforward. There’s just something very comforting about that.
    It isn’t violent like football or, God forbid, hockey. The rules don’t keep changing like they do in football and basketball. You don’t have to be a freak to play. I may not watch, or almost never, but it’s still my favorite sport.
    I liked this except for your political comments, which I don’t think are really on the mark.
    Just a word here about horse racing. Technology has changed horse racing, although I think for the better. I refer to the split-second video at the finish line which can decide very close races, and it can also uncover violations the judges can easily miss. Jockeys used to get away outrageous stuff. Do they use video in baseball? My impression is yes, but whatever the umpire ruled will still stand, even if it’s wrong.

  2. FN

    “I liked this except for your political comments, which I don’t think are really on the mark. ”

    All these men were Republicans, passionate in their belief of the free market capitalism that has successfully been exported throughout the world creating enormous economic opportunity and prosperity.

    So I guess I would ask what “political” comments you disagree with.

  3. Perhaps they were all Republicans, but that’s not causative. It’s not a prerequisite for being a successful businessman that you must also be a Republican. And I don’t think baseball belongs in the same category as Coca Cola, Disney, McDonald’s, and Silicon Valley. The only thing they have in common is that we’ve exported them. Baseball, Disney and Silicon valley products are probably the only “good” exports in the group. Coke and McDonald’s did not enrich the world in any way that I can see. Just my opinion.

  4. They were all Republican, records are recorded. They all believed in free market capitalism and they all succeeded in business by working hard. This is the story (s) the GOP should be telling instead of getting caught up in the reactionary crap the media spins for them. There are many more such Republican stories but these guys changed the world. If you don’t like coke and big mac you are free to make other choices (kiss a republican for that) but ask an unemployed Ukrainian how much value a $2 meal is to them, I have, often it is all they can afford for the day.. Many frigging worship the Golden Arches. (in the Ukraine I mean)

    I had to look causative up, you must hab larned dat in one ob dem liberal college courses.

    Oh and btw, umpires can be overruled by instant replays on certain plays. Like homeruns or dumb as dirt ground rules in domed stadiums like The Trop in St. Pete. And they do circle the wagons when they question one of their own calls. But by and large baseball is still the quintessential essence of all that is good in America. And it is spreading the American spirit around the world in a much more acceptable way than killing people and occupying their lands.

    You may be surprised at Part 2.

  5. While baseball may be “American” for the masses, it is derived from cricket. What is truly “American” is basketball, which is what I like.

  6. SC Well America is “derived” from Britain and of course they did play cricket. But as with the American militia we whupped their asses and changed their wussy game to a more robust one to reflect our robust pioneer spirit. Basketball was once very American but it has devolved to a game for giants only and is not really reflective of the everyman concept of democracy. It is a game played by elites. It does have significant world wide following too.

    FN I talked to one of my Ukrainian friends this morning who confirmed that McD’s is a huge hit there. And coca cola. And they all want to go to Disney. She even talked about watching the Rays on HD TV there.(Just to re focus on The American Brand)

    Republican ingenuity really rocks. It changed the world.

  7. Sadly, you are correct about basketball being a game dominated by giants, although small, fast guards can have some impact. But height is relative. In the Philippines, I was a guard on my high school team, which played against other American teams. In pickup games against the locals, I was a forward because most Filipinos are either my height or shorter.

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