The Yale Ballgame: Four years, you’re out

Like many seniors, these past few weeks have comprised the summer of my life-plan discontent. Luckily for me, Major League Baseball was there to save the day.

Tough times arrived with the Senior Dues letter, cheerfully informing me that my Senior Dues sticker would be waiting for me upon my return to campus. My Yale account had been charged directly for the dues — a done deal.

This was alarming not only because my (parents’) bank account is another hundred dollars in the hole. This was disturbing because the letter assumed that I, having completed my junior year, would actually be graduating next May.

I can’t blame Yale for assuming my fourth year in college would be my last. They’re sticklers for convention. And this would all be well and good, if I had any semblance of a Plan lined up after graduation. For example: if I had a cushy offer from Lehman like two of my friends or LSAT scores that had me teaching Kaplan courses like my roommate, I would have an acceptable Plan.

Instead, I’m a bleary-eyed history major with little “real-world” experience beyond the waitressing universe. I have zero combined GREs, MCATs or LSATs to my name. At T-minus-eight-months, I was left staring at my pesky Senior Dues sticker, mentally replaying my father’s pleas to take an econ course and being shoved out Yale’s ivory doors long before I’m ready.

As I contemplated my pathetic employment prospects, I had to wonder: whatever happened to the concept of the super-senior, those familiar beer bellies sporting the shirts “College: the best six years of your life”?

Since I was fifteen, I had assumed that “Dazed and Confused” characters exist in college as well as in high school. Where are those people in real life? Is that route suddenly not an option?

I made a quick phone call home. It confirmed that, indeed, this route is not an option.

Sure, for the past three years, the phrase “at Yale” has been a universal get-out-of-jail-free card for my lack of direction. It was absolutely fine that I was finding myself — at Yale. It was swell that I was wearing only earth-tones these days — at Yale. Terrific that I was needing fifty dollars pronto — at Yale.

But at the start of senior year, the home front verified that beloved card has been summarily played out. Gainful employment must be found.

To add absurdity to injury, my next phone call confirmed that even the most famously impractical of students — English majors — have a better shot in the job-hunt bonanza than me. A friendly Peace Corps recruiter informed me that despite my disdain for plumbing and knowledge of Arabic, I would have a tough time getting a job teaching English in rural Jordan because I am not an English major.

Needless to say, I was close to despair. So I did what I do in any moment of crisis: turn to my role models in professional athletics.

And this, happily, is where I realized that I have a lot in common with — ahem — some of the most venerated individuals in the country: professional baseball players. This summer, Major League Baseball expanded the official batter’s strike zone, partially in the name of “speeding up the game.” Suddenly a previously “good eye” became too picky. Suddenly tyrannical umpires were exercising their whimsical interpretations of the “letters” and sending these unfortunate sluggers back to the smelly dugout.

In the name of expediency — in the name of spreading the frenzied hyper-scheduled American mentality even to our National Pastime — our poor boys of summer were being hurried shamefully off the Astroturf.

What to do? Well, the unlucky batters of MLB couldn’t do much except maybe say mean things about the opposing pitcher’s mother in the locker room. They didn’t strike, and they certainly couldn’t strike back. Similarly, I guess changing the obligatory graduation-and-real-world route is beyond my control.

I have no tactic against the System except for the best consolation of all: the moral superiority that comes from being a victim. Yes, we are martyrs. Sacrificial lambs of the expanded strike zone or the shrinking economy, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and I each struggle onward. We fight the good fight even with the odds stacked against us.

And in the meantime, I guess being assured a multi-million dollar salary, or being one of the tiny fraction of Americans fortunate enough to have a Yale education, won’t be so horrible.



Frances Brown is a senior in Branford College.

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