Defensive Ignorance
Issue 109 Fiction Poetry Nonfiction Art + Photography Film Music Books For Creators more
 Ray Scanlon
 Ray Scanlon
Defensive Ignorance
by Ray Scanlon  FollowFollow
Ray Scanlon. Massachusetts boy. Lucky to be above ground, lucky to have grandchildren. No MFA. No novel. No extrovert. Not averse to more Twitter: @oldmanscanlon. On the web:
Defensive Ignorance

Defensive Ignorance

I've spent the better part of my life blind to the fine points of our national pastime— more than the fine points. I remember watching baseball after Sunday dinner, on a snowy over-the-air black-and-white twelve-channel television, amused and distracted when Gramp, the family baseball aficionado, nodded off and started to snore. I remember when I thought it was sufficient under any condition to tag the base a runner was heading toward to get him out. I didn't understand the baseball bromide that winning hinges on pitching, and I remember having no idea that pitchers had a repertoire of techniques that resulted in pitches of distinctly differing trajectories. As far as I was concerned, it was a matter of pure chance from the moment a pitcher touched the ball until it reached the vicinity of the plate. I've seen plenty of games which would seem to bear me out.

But now my ignorance is deliberate. I choose it; I cultivate it. It hasn't been easy to maintain it against societal pressure, and years of freezing my ass off watching my grandson's early April Little League games somehow encouraged osmosis. My severest temptation to indulge in ignorance-killing baseball enthusiasm is its vocabulary. The allure of the esoteric, the privilege of knowing the in-crowd arcana: I suavely flaunt slider, split-finger, two-seam; cheese and gas trip from my lips. Baseball's pitching vocabulary beguiles with its workmanlike literalness, its minimally figurative retooling of common words. They feel authentic, unlike the bogus volumetric terms Starbucks tries to foist onto us. But my knowledge is feeble, barely sufficient to avoid suspicious stares when small-talking with strangers.

This year's season will pass, and any unseemly new knowledge will surely fade from my memory through disuse. I decline to systematize it or try to parlay it into some deep understanding of the game. Some people watch NASCAR for the crashes; some people watch hockey for the fist-fights. I watch baseball to witness unexpected extraordinary feats of pitching, batting, running, catching, jumping, as well as human failure. And I'd miss listening to the on-air experts' feats of elucidation and commentary if I were to gain any degree of competence. It's only through ignorance that I can savor baseball's wonders and capture its surprises as if I were still a child. When I watch baseball I suspend disbelief, just as when I read. Everything I see is a potential goddamn miracle when I don't have a clue what's supposed to happen next.



  18 months ago · in response to Dan Jacoby

    Thanks for reading, Dan. For some reason baseball is the only sport I'm in mortal danger of liking.
  19 months ago
The last line is some good life-lesson advice.
  19 months ago - edited
Ray this is a breath of fresh air. I have coached young people for over 45 years and just for the very same reason you give, i want to see what comes next. Well said. Its what any game is in its purest form.


Browse through thousands of stories, poems and more. Whether you're into crimes comitted, tales true or dragons slayed, we have what you're looking for — written by professional and proven authors.

The more you read and interact, the more we can find new and exciting work for you.

Join now


Automatically make and receive recommendations as you read. Extend your experience through comments, sharing, connecting with authors and following readers with similar tastes. Reading becomes both personal and social.


The more you do, the better your experience! We'll improve our recommendations to you and others based on what you've enjoyed and followed. The more a work is liked or person followed, the more impact they have.

Challenge yourself...

Set up a personal challenge to read more. Explore a new genre or author. Red Fez can help you discover more, keep track of everything you've read and broaden your horizons.

Join now

For Writers & Creators

  • Get published in Red Fez.
  • Create a single space to share all your published (and unpublished) writing.
  • Discover who is actually reading and enjoying your work.
  • Find your audience & identify your work to readers who enjoy what you create!
  • Get a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your work. Discover your most (and least!) popular work.
  • Connect with your readers through comments, scroll posts and direct messages.
  • Connect with other writers in your geographical and interest areas.
  • Find a publisher through our extensive list of publishers.

Get Started

Join Red Fez

Start your adventure

By signing up you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.
Already a member? Log in

Log in

Continue your adventures