Now, I know, It’s from one of the silliest episodes in Star Trek history, but BEAR WITH ME!
I’ll start by saying I’m generally neutral on most sports, but when it comes to baseball, I’m a huge fan. It’s always been my favorite. There are a number of reasons: It’s not a time-based sport and you can’t just run out the clock, skill decides the winner no matter how late in the game it is, and the most important moments sometimes come at the most improbable times. It’s a team sport that relies heavily on one-on-one competition (the pitcher vs. the batter, the batter vs. the fielders, the runners vs. the basemen), everything in baseball is distilled to individual moments. And all these things are applicable to DS9 as well. The Prophets live outside of time, so their actions and those of the characters function outside its confines. The group dynamic is important on the show, but it’s the one-on-one relationships and rivalries that make the show so dense and enjoyable to watch.
But one of the main reasons I love baseball, and the way it relates to this particular shot of the ball, is the REVERENCE for the game. Of course every sport has fans who have a profound reverence for it, but for me, my reverence is for baseball, and so is Sisko’s. This man has a love for a game that transcends centuries after it even existed. That’s like someone now being infatuated with an ancient Aztec sport. It would seem like an anthropological obsession. But with Sisko, it doesn’t come off that way. It’s more for him. With the technology available, he’s followed it his whole life, watched the best games in the holo-stands, has access to all baseball information that has ever existed, and he knows it all. He loves it like the sport were alive in his present.
Sisko keeps the fire of this game alive, it lives within him. His reverence is so deep that it’s almost religious. The baseball he keeps on a pedestal on his desk is a symbol of that reverence, like a cross on the wall, or the Bajoron’s earings. It is a tradition he clings to, has faith in, even though others may have lost that faith.
SO! Now let’s talk about “Take Me Out to the Holosuite,” the baseball episode. It’s stupid, it’s funny, it’s almost embarrassing (even for dumb-Star-Trek-episode standards). But within this episode is a gem, the shot of the baseball.
Do you notice the lighting? The way the baseball is enveloped in the light of the table, a dark object in the ambient, transcendent glow? Does it look familiar?
Yep. Sisko in the presence of the Prophets.
That single shot of the baseball encapsulates Sisko’s reverence for the game and places it on the same plane as his duty as Emissary. There’s obvious hyperbole in the visual metaphor, but it is undeniably there and important. It’s a clever visual cue to the significance baseball plays in Sisko’s life. The whole episode is a chance for him to share his love, and his faith, in that odd antiquated game. And though the Vulcans challenge him as a way to belittle him for that faith (actually a problematic aspect of the episode. The Vulcans seem too gleefully spiteful, almost illogically mocking in their nature), Sisko doesn’t care. He’s there to prove himself and his sport, to prove it’s worth something, to prove his team is worth something. It’s the age-old sports story, with a sci-fi twist.
But that amazing shot…the baseball, ensconced in light…elevates the entire episode. It gives it real meaning, not just for Sisko, but for everything he believes in, and the people who serve him. I guess that’s why I love baseball, and why I love Star Trek: A solitary person can rise to become more than they were meant to be, and a community can rise above what any one person can accomplish.