A solution for a slow summer day

Today is one of those brutal days. The day before a 3-day weekend, the day before a massive celebration, with all sorts of great things waiting to be had, and all of them just out of reach.

But worst of all, for the baseball addict, it is an off-day, with no game on FSN, no game on ESPN, no game on the radio, no game immediately accessible in any way. Most people have obvious distractions, and, lest we forget, as Jon Stewart might say: "it's not insulin, I can live without it." But the truth is, while I can live with out it, I'd really rather not.

So, how do you get your fix on an off day?

You can read of course, you can see what Patrick Reusse and Jim Souhan have to complain about today. You can, if you have cable, sit and stare at ESPN listening to everything their dozens of talking heads have to say...though, you will undoubtedly be dumber for it. You can tune in talk radio and hear inane chatter from both pundits and guys with nothing better to do (like me).

Or, you can do a brief and entertaining study of baseball history.

Here's what you do: Go to the public library, where there are educational documentaries, available for free. Find Ken Burns' Baseball series. Pull any episode off the shelves. Enjoy.

This is the 5th time I've watched the series and I love it every time I do. It is, basically, a beginner's guide to Baseball's greatness. With profiles of classic stars from Christy Matthewson through Carlton Fisk, accounts of great teams and games from the Hitless Wonder White Sox of 1906, to the Gas House Gang St. Louis Cardinals, to the Big Red Machine, and detailed analyses of critical struggles in the game (including labor struggles, the Negro Leagues and the waxing and waning of the game's economics) the series entertains and educates in equal measure (it edutains).

Interviews with Ted Williams and Negro League legend Buck O'Neil bring the old times to life, while intellectual elites turn Baseball into a metaphor for life, the universe and everything, and some of the world's best actors (including Anthony Hopkins, John Tuturro, Garrison Kiellor and John Cusack) read the words of long forgotten stars.

You learn a great deal, and though the study of each decade takes two hours, the quality of the study is worth the investment of time. It provides a critical compendium of baseball history from 1830-1970 (though it feebly limps through the 70s and 80s and shows one or two images of the 90s). Though it skews towards the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers, it is a reflection of the game's yearly highs and lows and general trends.

You can't watch baseball every day, but with the right balance of history and current events, you can deepen your love for the game.

And that's how I make it through these days.

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