Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Baseball and Opera

The New York Times reports on a possible merger of the two major US satellite radio companies. This would resolve one of the great dilemmas as XM carries the audio of every Major League Baseball game and Sirius has a station devoted to live and archival broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera.

On the face of it, you would expect most baseball fans would rather watch paint dry than attend an opera and vice versa. But I'm not alone among the people who fanatically follow both. I can't pin down the exact connection between opera and baseball and one can make many philosophical comparisons (e.g. both require large teams but at most fixed times individuals rule the stage, both require a good attention span). Most lovers of both that I know are also scientists though that might just be my lack of a good sample. And I can't explain the Italians who seem to embrace opera and soccer.

In the academic world we get little choices about where we can live, so I find myself extremely lucky to be in a city with a great tradition in both baseball and opera. I've mentioned baseball more than opera in this weblog, but it was the baseball season tickets that I gave up once the kids were born.

If you are a great lover of baseball or opera you should give the other a try. And if you read the title of today's post and thought about the browser, shame on you.


  1. On New Years Day my friend Alex dragged me to see The Magic Flute at the Met, and I was pleasantly surprised that not only did it not suck, it was damned good. I never knew that the human vocal chords were capable of hitting those notes. But what really made it not suck were (1) the little electronic screens that translate the opera for you, and (2) the birdcatcher Papageno, who ridicules the opera as it proceeds.

    I have yet to be converted to baseball.

  2. both require a good attention span

    And I thought Baseball was just cricket dumbed down and sped up to accommodate the short attention span of Americans ;-)

  3. In the academic world we get little choices about where we can live...

    I disagree. It seem to me that a neat aspect of the academic world is that we get lots of choices in that respect.

  4. In the academic world we get little choices about where we can live...

    I'll second Lance's point (and think a discussion of this might make for an interesting post on its own). Unless you're a star, you go where you get a job. Once you start out someplace, it's fairly difficult to move. Even if you are a star, you may not be able to live in your first or second choice cities.

  5. There are plenty of other connections between baseball and opera: fans of both can cite arcane facts about players/singers from decades ago; people will see the same opera time after time with different casts to see how those particular singers do -- baseball games are the same thing over and over again with fans wanting to see how different pitchers fare against different batters and how a manager will manage the game. The similaries can go on and on. (Besides baseball and opera fans both being rabid on the subject!)