Tag: Baseball

Take Me Out To The Old Ball Game

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

   Pee Wee Reese

PhotobucketWhen I was ten I loved the Dodgers. The Brooklyn Dodgers. Especially Pee Wee Reese.  And Duke Snyder.  And Carl Furillo.  I loved baseball.  And then one day, to my utter amazement, the newspapers reported that the Dodgers were leaving me for their new love, the kids in Los Angeles.  How could they do that?  What had I done to be unworthy of them?  Had they been cheating on me throughout the season? It felt like a bad break up, a contested divorce.  It felt terrible.  There was no loyalty to me and to Brooklyn.  Only dollars.  And betrayal.  And leaving and going to LA.

Baseball back then was a game for kids. There were Sunday afternoon double headers with one admission fee.  There were day games.  You took a portable radio to school during the world series, because you hoped that Mrs. Powderly would let you hear the game.  And you ran home at 3:15 to catch the last innings.  Baseball’s all star game, which was a dream come true for a kid, was a day game.  It was played in the afternoon.  So I could see Joe Dimaggio, and Jackie Robinson, and Pee Wee, and Willie Mays.  And buying things was cheap: hot dogs, and soda and cracker jacks.  These were for kids, except for beer, which was for the adults.

Players didn’t play baseball all year.  They had other jobs.  In the off season they sold cars or insurance or worked in an office or on the farm.  They didn’t make big bucks.  You could see them doing their real jobs.  Baseball was their reward.

But now we’re in an entirely different era.  Today Mannie Ramirez, who might have been one of the greatest right hand hitters, earned a 50 game suspension for using steroids.  So now he’s got his asterisk, he’s the greatest right hand hitter*.  And A*Rod.  He’s got an asterisk.  And Mark M*Guire, and Sammy S*sa, and in addition to an asterisk, Jose C*nseco needs money so he’s doing ultimate fighting.  And we have no idea who the other 103 players were who tested positive for drugs along with A*Rod.  And all of them have *s also.  It used to be that the asterisk was reserved for Roger Maris whose sin was that he hit 60 home runs in a 162 game season, not in 156 games.  Even the asterisk has now been devalued.  Now it denotes cheating and drug use.

Now the all star game is at night.  The world series is at night.  The division series is at night.  The first pitch in these games is at about 9 pm ET, so any east coast kid who wants to see his/her heroes is not going to get past the third inning.  And beer at the ballpark is more than $6.  And hot dogs are more than $4.  And there are few day games.  And there are no double headers with single admission.  And there are new abominations: corporate boxes with glass windows facing the field and air conditioning, and restaurants with table cloths and silverware, and take out, and microbreweries, and there are no really cheap seats.  I could argue that the designated hitter was a debasement of the game.  But compared to these other, appalling changes, the DH is nothing.

It used to be a ritual to sneak off from work or school to go to Ebbetts Field for the afternoon game during the week.  There is no equivalent now to that spontaneous act of childishness, of playing hookie.

I still follow the Mets.  I still love major league baseball.  The green grass of the outfield.  The roar of the crowd.  The sound of bat on ball.  The bright lights.  But today’s announcement of Mannie Ramirez’s 50 game suspension shows the dark shadow of the kids’ game I used to love.  It used to be about hitting a round ball with a round bat.  Now it’s about something else entirely.  It’s about money, and enormous salaries to players, and great profits to owners, and public financing for private stadiums, and naming rights, and having agents, and endorsements.  It’s about everything except that naive, joyful game of hitting a round ball with a round bat and 3 strikes still being an out.

There used to be a Ballantine Beer sign in the ball park.  It had 3 rings for Purity, Body, And Flavor. Ironically, it’s the purity in the game that has gone.

I mourn its loss.  

This is Why Republicans REALLY Suck

A fews days ago, buhdydharma had an excellent essay detailing how the Republicans had screwed the country during the Bush years.  But one aspect was left out — the most important one from my point of view.  As I write this, my beloved Minnesota Twins lead baseball’s American League Central Division by 1/2 game over the evil Chicago White Sox.  The Twins exemplify all that is good and pure about baseball.  They play good defense; they bunt to sacrifice runners to the next base; their pitchers don’t walk anybody; they win with young players brought up from their minor league system rather than bidding for free agents; and they do it all with a payroll that is but a fraction of what the Yankees spend.  

But the Republican party is conspiring to ruin the Twins’ drive for the American League pennant.  Because their convention will be held in St. Paul from Sept. 1-4, the Twins are forced to embark on an unheard of 14-day road trip:  four games against the American League’s leading Los Angeles Angels, then three games at Seattle, four games at Oakland, and finally three games at Toronto.  For those of you who may not be baseball fans, this is a BIG deal.  Minnesota has a 46-23 record playing home games, but just a 28-31 record playing road games.  Having to play 14 consecutive road games may well ruin the Twins’ season through no fault of their own.


Politics is the Mind-Killer: An Essay on the Nature of Fandom

In the time of the Roman Empire, civic life was divided between the Blue and Green factions. The Blues and the Greens murdered each other in single combats, in ambushes, in group battles, in riots. Procopius said of the warring factions: “So there grows up in them against their fellow men a hostility which has no cause, and at no time does it cease or disappear, for it gives place neither to the ties of marriage nor of relationship nor of friendship, and the case is the same even though those who differ with respect to these colors be brothers or any other kin.” Edward Gibbon wrote: “The support of a faction became necessary to every candidate for civil or ecclesiastical honors.”

Who were the Blues and the Greens? They were sports fans – the partisans of the blue and green chariot-racing teams.

~Eliezer Yudkowsky, A Fable of Science and Politics

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved baseball.  Strangely, in America, when you say you love baseball, or football, or basketball, that doesn’t mean you love playing the game, of course, but that you are a passionate fan and spectator of the sport you love.  I do enjoy playing baseball, although I haven’t actually played hardball in at least a decade.  (One issue that people talk about a lot is how fewer native-born Americans are playing baseball, and making it to the major leagues.  I wonder how much the fact that softball, and not hardball, is the recreational version of the sport, impacts this.  Parents sensibly are more concerned about their kids getting hurt, so kids don’t play with a hardball unless they are in Little League.  Everything else is softball.)  But I’m a Major League Baseball fan.  I can enjoy watching any part of any baseball game.  I’ve been known to become audibly excited when a pitcher throws a great series of pitches, or when a hitter has an at-bat where they keep fouling away pitch after pitch of the pitcher’s best stuff.  I can name the top ten minor league prospects for all thirty teams.

Hello Cruel World: My Plan For Tuesday And Thereafter

Somebody once told me that yawning was a sign of contempt.  So pardon me while I yawn about the Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Indiana primaries and any other ones that might be coming.  And pardon me while I yawn about those anti-democratic superdelegates and their views  And the polling.  And the delegate counts.  And the diaries about people who won’t vote for Obama.  Or Hillary.  And the diaries about how wonderful Hillary is.  And Obama.  And the speculation about the remaining endorsements (Al Gore, John Edwards, Mr. Magoo).  And the talk about the recent ABC “debate.”  And the talk about the brokered/open convention.  This stuff has turned into something stronger than SominexTM.  I’m yawning uncontrollably.  I’m amazed, however, that my yawn apparently isn’t triggering widespread yawns across the country, throughout left Blogsylvania, and beyond.

I have intense, incurable primary fatigue.  My span of attention expired weeks and weeks ago, when it was clear to me that Obama would and should be the nominee and that Hillary was too powerful with insiders and attachment just to stop campaigning.  I don’t care if it was clear to the candidates, because despite the obvious circumstances Hillary isn’t dropping out of anything.  And so, she slogs on.  Slogging tomorrow through Pennsylvania, and on to the next bog.  And those of us in the typing classes, what about us?  She can slog all she wants,but I’m done with this.  Done until there’s a nominee.  Finished until after the convention.  And I don’t want to hear anything more about it until the primary race is over.

I’m yawning so hard my jaw and my temples hurt.  And so I’m going on to the next things.  Of cours, I’m inviting you all to come with me.  In that way this is a Hello Cruel World Diary, a diary in which we step back from the screen and look around at the world outside it.

*Baseball season is underway.  When you watch or listen to the game, it’s about balls and strikes and mostly about making outs.  The strategy has been the same for a century.  Let’s play ball. Going to the ballpark is great.  Even sitting in front of the TV is fine.  Listening on the radio is old school.  And you know what?  They never mention the primaries.  Perfect.

*I’m returning to reading short stories by Jorge Luis Borges.  Two I love are The Zahir and its opposite, The Aleph.  These are particularly good now, because last week, unbeknownst to us in the US Buenos Aires was smothered in smoke.  We didn’t know about this, did we.  Why?  Well, it’s the primary season and our world view (like the Zahir) appears to have become locked on Pennsylvania to the exclusion of the rest of the Universe, especially Argentina, which we ignore even on a good day.

*I’m stepping away from the keyboard and going for a long walk.  With my dog.  Yesterday, I heard a bullfrog for the first time this Spring season.  If I had been sitting at the keyboard, as I am now, I would have missed this.  Or forgotten it.  Or assumed that it was just something else I wasn’t paying attention to.  Yesterday, I was wondering why my dog seemed slightly forlorn.  Maybe it was because she doesn’t give a damn about the primaries and would rather look for rabbits.  And to do that, she prefers to have me along to stir them up.  

*For now, I’m avoiding all essays and diaries about the candidates.  I’m going to go back to reading and writing about other stuff.  Latin America.  Torture.  The law.  Anything but the primaries.

I invite you all to join me.  Enough is certainly enough.  I know I can be a good an excellent Progressive by turning my attention elsewhere.  And I’m going to do just that.

Pony Party: Huge Manatees

Speaking of Huge Manatees ….

The Florida Marlins baseball team held tryouts last weekend for their new x-large male cheerleading squad – the Manatees.

On Baseball

In a few short months, the cold of winter will give way to the smell of fresh cut grass. On fields in Florida and Arizona, veterans will work out the kinks of the winter break, fresh faced kids will take their hacks hoping to make the big clubs. It is a ritual performed for decades, the precursor to that magical time of year…

Baseball season.

Nothing better to do…

You’d expect this sort of nonsense from Congress when the Republicans are in charge, but really doesn’t Chairman Waxman have anything better to do with the Oversight Committee?

“This is a sad day for Major League Baseball but a good day for integrity in sports. It’s an important step towards the goal of eliminating the use of performance enhancing substances.

“The Mitchell report is sobering. It shows the use of steroids and human growth hormone has been and is a significant problem in Major League Baseball. And it shows that everyone involved in Major League Baseball bears some responsibility for this scandal.

“We are going to ask Senator George Mitchell, Commissioner Bud Selig, and the President of the Major League Players Association, Don Fehr, to testify at a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on Tuesday, December 18. We look forward to their testimony on whether the Mitchell report’s recommendations will be adopted and whether additional measures are needed.

Yeah, the ball players used performance enhancing drugs. But, then we have a “president” who has lied to Congress and obstructed justice. So much for integrity in our government. Not to mention our planet’s at the tipping point…

Priorities. Whatever. Play ball!

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