Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Baseball's Back!

Karen: A new baseball season has started, which means anything is possible. Every fan can hope that this will be the year their team runs away with it all, despite any predictions or past performance to the contrary. That's the beauty of sports in general -it can surprise you. Last year, my Oakland A's were picked by nearly every prognosticator to be the worst team in baseball. So what did they do? Despite having a horrible ownership, and no big names, they worked their tails off in the second half and came back to win the AL West championship in the last game of the season!

Doug:  The advent of baseball season brings that sense of renewal, doesn't it?  While I've cooled on the Chicago Cubs since the last time I had my heart ripped out (2003), going to Wrigley Field is ever a treat.  I'm not one of those Chicago fans who has to hate the White Sox, though -- I've been to U.S. Cellular Field many a'time, and always have a blast when I'm there.  I've said before that my family makes it a priority to take in a Major League Baseball game whenever we can on our vacations.  I don't know that we'll get that done this summer, as the boys are really busy and my wife and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary.  But I'm sure somewhere along the line we'll get a call that someone has tickets available -- and more than likely we'll take the offer!

Doug:  I should also say that there is a definite melancholy around our family this spring, as it's the first baseball season since 1996 that one of our sons has not been playing.  I was fortunate enough to coach their Little League teams from 2003-07 and those are treasured memories.  In 2004 the boys' team finished undefeated, the only time in the 60-year history of our league that a team has done that.  That same year our oldest's 12-year old all-star team finished as runners-up in the Illinois state tournament.  Great times.  My wife in particular has been a little down, as we loved watching them compete -- it's one of life's pages that's turned.  

Karen: So all you BABsters that are baseball fans: tell us about your team and what you hope to see this year, or just talk about baseball in general. Despite all the turmoil in the sport in recent years, let's not forget just how thrilling watching a good game can really be.


Anonymous said...

I don't really have a favorite MLB team anymore. When I was a very wee lad it was the Orioles - so I was pretty bummed by the Amazing Mets of '69. I'm an LSU grad so I'm more into college baseball these days. The Tigers are currently ranked 2nd so I am hopeful for a return to Omaha. I went in 2009 when the Tigers last won it all and had a blast!

In a comment that I would consider appropriate to this forum, ironically, it was comic collecting which pretty much put an end to my baseball card collecting. In the late 60s to early 70s, I could have rattled off the starting lineups and pitching rotations of most major league teams. Then I discovered superhero comics and there just wasn't enough change to go around for cards too so that was the end of that. Spiderman trumped Brooks Robinson.


William Preston said...

Cubbies didn't suck yesterday, Doug! Not an exciting game, but I liked the lineup. A Wrigley game this summer would be great. (My daughter is taking her husband to a Minneapolis-Chicago matchup--an away game, sadly--in a few weeks.)

I was happy to see the Yankees lose and the Mets win.

Born in Baltimore, I do still have a spot in my heart for the Orioles.

Play ball!

Doug said...

Tom --

The College World Series has been on our family's radar for many years. We were going to make a vacation of it last year but the timing was wrong with the end of the school year, me teaching summer school, etc. But we'd love to go. Too bad we won't see it in Rosenblatt Stadium.


mr. oyola said...

Like my buddies Spider-Man and Jonathan Lethem I am a Mets fan.

I say the best part of a year where you team is not expected to do well is that they can only meet or surpass expectations, which is better than the opposite I guess.

I remember in the early 00s there was an issue of Peter Parker, Spider-man #33, I believe - that tells the story of Uncle Ben always dragging young peter to opening day and the Mets always losing.

Of course, Mets fans know that even in their worst years, Mets actually have a tendency to win opening day - like yesterday!

Speaking of comics, Wilfred Santiago has a graphic novel version of the life of Roberto Clemente (I am of a generation of that required all Puerto Ricans to have the Pirates as their second team). While I wasn't too happy with the results, it was nice to see two of my interests (comics and baseball) mashed up.

david_b said...

I tried to really get into baseball in the '80s when in college, but didn't last too long.

As Doug will know, before they tore down the County Stadium and built 'Miller Park' up here, the Stadium used to host the 'Milwaukee Braves', before they moved to Atlanta in the late '60s.., I was employed at one of the 'Big 8' acct firms in the early 80s here who did the books for the Stadium, so I had a good idea just how expensive it was to keep the place open. Miller Park, with it's retractable roof, was such a nice addition (several counties are still payin' the sales tax, which will last a couple more years..).

Incidentally, Miller Park's built on federal land, gifted to them from the Feds. It's actually built where I work, at the VA Hospital here, so parking and pedestrian traffic here yesterday was horrendous (my car almost got hit leaving yesterday afternoon...).

Bruce said...

I'm a big Atlanta Braves fan, and baseball is far and away my favorite sport.

I'm really looking forward to this season, as the Braves should be a contender. Unfortunately, they are in the same division as Washington, which may be the best team in the National Leageu this season. But I'm glad baseball is back!

Anonymous said...

I haven't paid much attention to baseball since I was a kid, but the Blue Jays made a bunch of trades and spent a lot of money, so it would be nice to see them finally do something (since they're the only Canadian team left). They are in a tough division though :(

Mike W.

Garett said...

I enjoyed playing baseball as a kid, but haven't watched much except for the Blue Jays winning in '92 and '93. They've been replaying those games on The Sports Network recently.

I've seen some of Ken Burns' Baseball documentary, the decades of the '20s and '30s with Babe Ruth. Burns always seems to make eras come alive, and he does here again--want to find the rest of the series. I've also watched his docs on fighter Jack Johnson, Jazz, Prohibition, and some of Civil War. Even on subjects I have little interest in, like the civil war, I find myself drawn in by his documentary style, the stories and images.

humanbelly said...

Although never, ever a big baseball fan (pretty much an NFL guy, me), it's almost impossible for the game not to have a sort of background presence in one's life-- particularly here in the DC area, where the Nationals have certainly done their job of being a very interesting team during their few years (so far) here. They've really been kind of all over the map as to what kind of team they are: Average, Better than Expected, Woefully Awful, Best Team in Baseball-- they've hit all those marks. There's something almost retro-cool about the team-- very much a throwback to an earlier era where it's a group of distinct personalities making up the team.

Saw a couple of games at their first park (RFK Stadium), but have only been to the new field once-- last year w/ HBSon to play in that "World Record Trombone Ensemble" event last year-- but the game itself was rained out. And boy, the trombone event was no thing of beauty, believe me!

I did play for one year in high school (10th grade, JV) and was UNBELIEVABLY bad, but had a terrific time. And won the "Best Singer on the Team" award at the spring sports banquet. . .

(a proud moment. . . oh yeah.)


Graham said...

I was a big fan way back in the day....not so much in recent years. I sort of drifted off in the mid 90's after the strike killed the end of one season and never came back. I will tune in to a couple of games during the season, but that's about it.

True story that makes me smile even today...in college, I had a class with Will Clark (former Giant/Cardinal 1B) during spring semester, so naturally, he missed a good bit of the latter part of the year because the team was trying to get to Omaha. We had our final exam on a Saturday, and they were in the middle of the Regionals, so he was, um, absent. The teacher called roll and when he got to Will's name.....no answer. He asked, "Where's Mr. Clark??!!!" Somebody said, "Um, he's in the Regionals this weekend." The teacher shook his head and said, "Somebody needs to tell Mr. Clark that there's much more to life than baseball." Will signed with the Giants that summer and never looked back. :)

Doug said...

Graham, in 1989 Will Clark single-handedly killed the Cubbies in the play-offs!


Graham said...

Doug, I was rooting for the Cubbies that season (and most others) and I was torn, because Will was a pretty nice guy at school and I wanted him to do well. Still, I didn't even watch the series that season because the Cubs fell short. I even missed the earthquake that stopped Game 2.

Rip Jagger said...

I'm a Reds fan myself.

There was a time when I followed baseball with a white hot passion, but when they killed the World Series many years ago now, I decided the sport didn't require my undying attention and I moved on.

I still watch a game now and again, and I love to listen to trade talks and stuff in the winter and early spring, but the actual season has lost some luster for me.

Inter-league play is a problem for this traditionalist. The leagues should rarely play one another, but that ship has sailed I'm afraind. The Reds opened against the blooming Angels this year for goshsakes. Sheesh!

dbutler16 said...

I'm sorry I missed this discussion! I was out of town on business, though. Anyway, I love baseball. It has surpassed basketball for me in recent years. Anyway, I'm a Yankees fan (even though my first autograph was Cal Ripken jr the one year he was in AAA in Rochester), but I'll watch any two major league baseball teams. I'm easy that way. I decided to stay away from fantasy baseball this year, as I wasted too much time on it last year.

Rip was complaining about interleague play, and frankly, it's lost its charm for me, though I don't mind it, either. I do have to say, though, I like the DH. There is nothing worse than watching a pitcher at bat. I watch the game for excellence, not incompetence, and I think the stuff about more strategy is overblown. It's different strategy, but not necessarily more or better.

As far as traditionalist, a large part of me wouldn't mind going back to the days where only the best record in the AL played the best record in the NL on the World Series, and that was the only playoff. I know they'll never go back to this (and practically speaking, they shouldn't) but it kill me when an 85 win team wins the World Series. I wish they could at least implement a rule that you have to win at least 90 games to make the playoffs.

Joseph said...

I grew up a HUGE baseball fan. I was quoting lineups and stats as a young lad. I slowly drifted away as i got older (mid to late 90s), but always felt the pull (similar to my connection to comics).

Doug, your comments really hit home as my son has stopped playing little league but my daughter has her first softball game tomorrow (i'm an assistant coach).

I've renewed my love of the game somewhat and even restarted my card collecting (focused on the bronze age, of course).

I am dreading the day that you and your wife are facing - the turning of that page. Thanks for reminding me that I need to enjoy it while it is here (even if the weather is cold and miserable during that first softball game tomorrow).

Doug said...

Joseph, you must have been originally logged in under your wife's name?

Anyway, here's a bit of sports minutiae for those interested in such things:

I mentioned that my oldest son's 12-year old All-Star team was second in the state of Illinois in 2004. In the state tournament we defeated a team from a small town in east central Illinois called Robinson. Robinson's star player was a 6'1" pitcher named Myers Leonard. My son started the game against Leonard and was left with no decision as we were tied at 5 after 4 innings. One of our kids hit a dinger off Leonard in the top of the 5th to put us up one and we held on for the 6-5 W.

So that's the minutia; here's the rest of the story: If you didn't recognize the name, Myers Leonard went on to play two years of basketball at the University of Illinois and now plays in the NBA as a 7'1" forward for the Portland Trail Blazers. If you want to see what a freak he became (and I say that affectionately), check out this video from his senior year in high school:



Doug said...

I meant to add at the end of that last comment --

Go see "42". It is outstanding. Even if you are not a baseball fan, the moral and cultural issues raised from that era of American history are very important for consideration.


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