Sunday, May 19, 2013

DS9: If Wishes Were Horses

Do you know how many baseball games I've watched today? Three. Three ball games. To be fair, I'm technically still in the middle of the Detroit/Texas game but I will watch it all--to the very last inning. I love baseball and I've been watching this year since the first day of spring training. I live in LA and soon after we moved here I discovered Vin Scully and so now I'm a (rather despondent) Dodgers fan but I can watch any baseball. I watched all of the World Baseball Classic and sometimes I watch college and minor league games.

You might assume I was raised in a sports/baseball family but you'd be wrong. My parents cared less than nothing about sports but (probably thanks to baseball movies) I was always interested in the game. I love the way it looks and the way it sounds. I love the green grass and the rusty brown of the dirt. I love the crack of a good hit and the swoosh/sizzle of a strike. I love it.

And that's why, when I wrote out the schedule for My Year Of Star Trek, I was SO excited to realize I would be spending most of baseball season watching DS9. One of the saddest things in all of Star Trek is the fact that baseball has all but died out by 2369. The death of baseball is depressing but Star Trek (following a tradition that goes back to the Original Series) gives us hope by simultaneously warning us about what we could lose, and letting us know that as long as someone, somewhere loves something it won't completely go away.

In DS9, Commander Sisko is that someone. He loves baseball so much that he passes the knowledge of the extinct practice on to his son. When confronted by the wormhole aliens, he expresses the human capacity to take pleasure in discovering what was previously unknown through the concept of baseball. In "If Wishes Were Horses," Jake is off playing baseball in the holosuite when Buck Bokai (who played in the last ever World Series) appears before him.

This episode has its ups and downs. I've even seen it argued as one of the worst episodes of Star Trek. And it is a bit ridiculous but it's not exactly as if that's some kind of new thing for Star Trek. Remember the time the TOS crew was seeing the white rabbit or when Kirk's Starfleet bully showed up to give him a sound thrashing. Or, remember that time Kirk and Abraham Lincoln got in a straight-up fistfight with Genghis Khan? Yes. It's a lot like that.

Anyway, my favorite stuff from this episode comes in the last scene. After Sisko and the crew have been put to task by what seem to be figments of their own imaginations, Bokai comes to him to explain what's really been going on. By and by, their discussion turns to the human imagination and Bokai says, "I wonder if you can appreciate how unique that imagination of yours really is." The whole scene, a short, quiet finish, pays tribute to one of the long-lasting ideals of Star Trek--humanity, when at its best, is unique and exceptional.

At the very end, Bokai tosses Sisko a baseball. Sisko would end up keeping the ball around throughout the rest of DS9 and it shows up at several key (totally awesome) moments. Seeing Sisko with it for the first time, I smiled. I feel like it's going to be a great summer. Now, back to the game.


  1. I love baseball, too!

    I was wondering the other day--how many episodes per day/week do you need to watch to finish all the series in a year?

    1. Hooray for baseball! I do about three episodes a day. Sometimes it's difficult to only watch that many and I'll get carried away and watch six or seven. But, to stay on track and make sure that I can write about multiple episodes/season, three is about the right number.

  2. You like baseball too? Man, you are just more awesome than I thought! I remember moving to the US when I was 10. I didn't understand American football, it looked a lot of big dudes running into each other. But baseball... hit a ball, run around the baseball, score a run, that I could understand. All my friends were Red Sox fans, so naturally I was a Yankees fan. I remember watching the World Series one year, turned off the sound on the TV and listened to Vin Scully on the radio, just like magic. Now I will watch the NFL and college football. But baseball I can only watch the Yankees on TV, and the Reds live, well, any baseball game live is much better than on TV.


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