Gumption and I have been following the Jays for the whole season, but recently Virtute’s decided to start watching too. Since the Blue Jays are on a 9 game winning streak and are starting to look like the World Series contenders they were supposed to be last year naturally I asked him if he was jumping on the bandwagon. His response, as usual, was pretty thoughtful – shrugging, he replied, “if you research the etymology of the term bandwagon, it refers to the contraptions that carried around circus performers hired by P.T. Barnum in the American west in the mid-1800s. These circus shows tended to entertain new settlers while demeaning and dehumanizing indigenous peoples. Since we’re supporting the Blue Jays, I like to consider myself joining the flock.” He paused and I was waiting for his next word of wisdom, but he just asked, “How does this Mark Buerhle jersey look on me anyways?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the origins of baseball lately and about how the stories we tell about its so-called begginings are so bound up in the settler colonial myth. So I asked Virtute what he thought. He peered down from his cat condo and sighed, “like any game, baseball is rooted in a particular context and is meant to evoke aspects of your social surroundings. Just like I want you to know who is boss in this house when I force you to play fetch with me when you’re trying to get your work done, those early settlers probably were bound up in the idea of home and returning home safely. Now please throw my fetch toy human.”
Today, Virtute continues to insist that I stop transcribing these interviews for my Ph.D. and start thinking about the fact that it’s only 58 days until pitchers and catchers report for spring training. He’s apparently planning on being the starting shortstop this year, and his regimen of chasing grounders, jumping up in the air unexpectedly, and sliding across the floor in full sprint has convinced me that he’s got the inside track. Oh to be young again.