Missing My Baseball

19 08 2013

1971 Topps #598 Wise

I love the sport of baseball.  I just don’t like it lately…

Some of my best memories from growing up in the 60’s and 70’s have to do with baseball.  I played ball from ages 5 to 15 at my local youth organization.  After that I still had some choose-up games with friends, and then played softball into my late twenties. These were great times… Harry Kalas’ silky smooth voice on the radio, sitting behind that pillar at Connie Mack Stadium, watching Rick Wise’s no-hitter in my basement on that small b&w TV… with my Dad.

I’ve said before that one of the worst things about getting older is that you can’t get enough guys for a 9v9 baseball game. Even worse is watching the game that is played today.  I miss the game of my youth, so here’s MY list of some of the things that I think are wrong with baseball… maybe other sports as well.  In no particular order…

Performance Enhancing Drugs – It would be easy for me to point to Alex Rodriguez and make him the poster boy for this issue.  But MLB had a “nod, nod, wink, wink” attitude towards PEDs from the beginning. It’s funny now to see them come down so hard on players when they let it happen for so many years.  Any entry in the baseball record book in the last 30 years has been rendered meaningless. While I’m not suggesting that all players achieved success with a boost, you just never know for certain. And by the way… A-Rod is still a douche bag.

Free Pete – Cut the bullshit, Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.  The absence of one of the top five players in history diminishes the institution.  He’s not O.J. Simpson, who’s still in Canton, by the way…

I’m Pro DH – Bring doubleheaders back. Lots of them. And not the day/night crap either. Screw what the player’s union says… they are getting paid millions of dollars to play a kids game.  Two games in one afternoon won’t kill them.

I’m Anti DH – Lose the designated hitter. Pitchers are ballplayers and should be made to hit. And if you can’t play the field anymore, its time to retire. But why stop there? Let’s have courtesy runners for players who can’t run the bases.  Maybe let them hit off a tee when the hand-eye coordination starts to go. The only thing that the DH rule accomplished was taking a good deal of strategy out of the game. There is nothing more beautiful than a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt… a lost art in the majors.

Jewelry – Oh good God, what is with the jewelry?  Seriously?  I guess those rope things are fashion statement that I am missing.  But wait a doggone minute… I’m reading now that the ropes “stabilize your electric current inside the body” by “allowing the flow of energy.”  Sounds like another performance enhancer to me!!

Crappy Game Giveaways – I’ll never forget leaving Connie Mack Stadium that summer day… so pissed that I got a bat signed by Johnny Briggs, and my cousin got Johnny Callison.  Bat Day was the best ever, but probably gone because of security issues. I know that’s not baseball’s fault. But giveaways and promotions only exist now to court corporate sponsorship… “Modell’s Sporting Goods Kids Run The Bases”, for example.  I’d still like to see a cap, or a ball, or a batting glove adorned only with the logo of my team… not a company.  Crap at it’s finest.

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All-Star Game – It used to be the event of the summer, full of trash talk and hard play.  Now it is a joke, long ago ruined by too many free agents and trades.  There was a sense of pride to play for your league, against the “other” league… with nothing on the line except bragging rights.  Home field advantage in the World Series is just plain stupid, and clearly hasn’t given the players any incentive.  If there is nothing to play for, why play?

Managers In Uniform – This is one of my biggest pet peeves.  In no other sport in the world do managers and coaches wear the same uniform as the players. Picture, if you will, the svelte Andy Reid wearing a white Eagles jersey and silver pants during the game.  I’m still scrubbing my brain to erase the image of 80 year-old Don Zimmer in that form-fitting Red Sox uni…

Bench Clearing Brawls – Mister Batter, if you’re hit by a pitch, shut up and go to first (watch Chase Utley). Mister Pitcher, that’s a warning… do it again and you’re out of the game (you’re a major league pitcher… have some control). Field players, don’t take one step in or you’re out of the game too. Everyone else stay on the bench and in the bullpen, including coaches. No reason to be on the field anyway.  Now all of you… grow up and set a better example for young fans.

Umpires – News flash to all MLB Umpires… not one person in the stadium has plunked down their money to see YOU officiate the game.  Stop getting in players faces when they disagree with a call.  Stop with the flamboyant signalling of outs and strikes.  The fact is… if you have done your job well, no one should even notice you are there.

A LOT of Games – I’m hoping this is the year that the World Series gets cancelled because of snow.  Well… not really… but I’d love to see my point proven.  The boys of summer should not be playing in the winter.  Adding yet another round of playoffs is owner’s greed, pure and simple.  Plus… is it all necessary?  After 162 regular season games, do we not know who is the best team?

That’s my view… please comment below.  And at least give me some props for not mentioning soccer…

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4 responses

22 08 2013
Fluge

If we don’t think that PED’s are being used in other sports, we are delusional. MLB leads all major sports in identifying and penalizing PED users, and their example is leading the press to question the other leagues on this topic.

One of things that makes baseball unique is its ubiquity during the season. Each individual game is both meaningless (“we’ll get ’em tomorrow”) and meaningful (a game on April 12 is as important as a September 30 game to a team that loses its division by 1 game). Teams evolve over a 6 month season. Injuries rob a team of key talent, and trades and player development bring new talent. The 2011 Cardinals completely remade their bullpen in July and August and made up 10 games in the final 2 months on their way to a World Series championship. So, no, the 162 game season doesn’t necessarily tell us the best team. MLB balances the significance of the regular season with the excitement of a playoff round. Good GM’s build a team for both. Great GM’s recognize the difference and adjust their rosters accordingly.

Here’s a solution to the jewelry problem: listen to baseball on the radio! One of my favorite memories is talking to my Dad on the telephone as we both listened to Harry Kalas call the last 2 innings of Terry Mulholland’s no-hitter at the Vet (first one in the stadium’s history). I wasn’t at the game, didn’t even watch it on TV, but I can still “see” the play that Charlie Hayes made on that line drive for the 3rd out of the ninth!

Tired of hearing about A-Rod? Turn off ESPN and the national media and discover independent writers who help us understand that we might be witnessing the greatest right-handed hitter to ever play the game (Miguel Cabrera), compare Clayton Kershaw to the brilliance of Sandy Koufax, or just marvel at the talent of a 21-year Cuban refuge who is blowing away major league hitters (Jose Fernandez).

“Baseball was, is and will always be to me the best game in the world” – Babe Ruth (gotta go with the Babe!)

22 08 2013
Gr8JohnL

Is that all???

As I said, these are things that I think are not so great about baseball, AND other sports. Yes, baseball is doing a better job recently with PEDs, but what took them so long? When no more players test positive I will stand and applaud.

The items that you highlight as unique in a six month season would just as unique in a four month season. But I think that excellence over 162 games should mean something. It currently means nothing. It’s not the NHL, but it’s heading that way. And are you saying that the team with the best GM deserves to be champion? I don’t recall ever seeing kids wearing Pat Gillick shirts. If that’s your argument I’ll stand by my reasoning.

I don’t like players wearing jewelry so I should listen to the games on the radio? As I wrote in the beginning of the piece, I long for those days. And a similar solution if I’m tired of hearing about A-Rod… never said I was tired of him, by the way.

All I’m saying is that I believe baseball is nowhere near as good as it was, and here are some of the reasons why. I long for a simpler game. Maybe I’m overly sentimental, but I enjoyed baseball completely then. I don’t now.

I don’t believe the Babe would enjoy it either.

22 08 2013
Fluge

Yep. I also miss the gas station attendant who cleaned my windshield, and checked my oil. And the milkman who delivered chocolate milk right to my door step. And let’s not forget kids who knew how to respect their elders!

Money has definitely changed the game – but not just for worse. It’s allowed fans to enjoy watching games in baseball stadiums instead of converted football stadiums, and teams to attract new talent (how many Mariano Rivera’s were never discovered because teams didn’t fund international scouts?). In the 70’s, i could only watch Phillies home games on Sunday, now I have a friend who watches every Phillies home games from her hotel room in SF using MLB TV!

I admit that I’m not bothered by jewelry and managers in uniforms. Also, I abide by the saying that there are only 2 seasons a year: baseball and non-baseball. What matters most to me is what happens between the foul lines. The talent playing the game today, and the access that fans have to watch and listen to games is arguably superior today than it was 30 years ago.

As for PED’s, there are 650 players on major league rosters. I also will applaud the day when we no longer see a handful of suspensions because of illegal substances. And while it may have taken baseball a long time, they are setting the standard for others to follow.

*slides additional pepper shakers across the table at General Grants*

26 08 2013
Gr8JohnL

So you think this post is simply a longing for the good ole days… okay. But don’t forget the Charles Chips guy! I guess I was in the grip of my nostalgia when I decided to see the game at what should be its purest level… the Little League World Series. I tuned in just in time to sit through a ten minute video replay review. I couldn’t switch off the TV fast enough. The future… holy crap!

Better talent? Yes. Better access to games and information? Yes. Better tools and information for scouts and GMs? Yes. Has all that made the game better? In my humble opinion, with my list of drawbacks… No. Too slow, too much non-value added BS.

And take it easy… I’m not trying to talk you into liking the Mets.

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