Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Batter Up

Did you realize that yesterday was Opening Day of the 2015 Baseball Season?  Do you care?  I do.  Surprisingly, I really do.  The older I get, the more comforting I find baseball.  Look, for all you freakish, brilliant stat-heads, I'm not at all.  I understand the game at its simplest form, but I love it.  I love all the traditions and the history of the game.  Of course, it's easy when you live in New York City and you have the rich history of the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Giants, and, yes, the Mets.  Of course, I do mock Mets fans.  Not the Mets fans that were born and raised Mets fans, no, I am talking about the Mets fans who choose to be Mets fans.  Why in the world would you if you could choose the Yankees.  I never get that.  

Anyway, yesterday all the teams started their new seasons.  Many new players, new coaches, new uniforms, clean slates.  It's anyone's game once again.  Hope is in the air for awhile.  Yankee fans started off with a terrible loss and could be the theme of the season, but the die hard fans will always stay around, which can't be said for Florida Marlin fans.  That's part of what makes the Yankees so great.  Nothing like NY fans for better and for worse.  Other teams have that same devotion but they are the original teams. You know who they are, don't you?  Cubs, Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, White Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox.  There are a few more, but you get the drift.  The history.  The long suffering seasons.  The stories of the Chicago White Sox scandal.  The curse of the bambino which lived on for decades and has since been crushed.  There's so much. 

Many older fans have been outraged in recent years with the so-called steroid era.  I've had many a disagreement with others over the position that the players are scum, at fault, their records shouldn't count, they should be hogtied in the public square and flogged.  How dare they tarnish the greatness of those before them!  I never felt that way.  My position has always been and will always be, until someone can definitively prove otherwise, the owners, the commissioner, the managers, and the trainers knew that there were artificial enhancement drugs being taken, but they turned the other cheek, hid their head in the sand.  Baseball suffered a terrible blow with a players strike in the '80s and getting people back in the stands and watching TV was all that mattered.  Didn't matter how.  Offense went crazy.  There were home runs everywhere and it was exciting.  It worked.  The people came back and were following the competitions around the league.  

After the success was greater than anyone could've possibly dreamed, that's when the "outrage" starting to get louder.  The records that were being broken were tainted.  The sportswriters were hopping mad at the players.  Calling foul.  Illegal drugs was what generated all the runs.  The baseball writers were calling foul.  What was baseball to do?  Well, they went after Barry Bonds tooth an nail.  He was an easy target, not a well-liked man, some may say hated.  He didn't play the "game" the way "they" wanted him to so they were going to take him down for steroids or HGH or anything they could.  It was more like Capone, they couldn't get him on the steroid use so the Feds got him on some other cockamamie charge.  I can hear people yelling at me already, but he wasn't the enemy.  I have no great love of Barry Bonds, don't get me wrong.  I just don't think it was he that was the problem, just a good public villain.  There were tons of players that were found guilty by association, by whispers, by that pillar of the community, Jose Conseco's bio.  Their careers couldn't recover.  They were branded with the letter "S" for steroids. 

As baseball started "cleaning up" the drugs, guess what has happened over the years?  Home runs have slowed down.  All this past week, the papers are starting to write about how the game has gotten too strong defensively and they'll have to figure out how to get more offense.  Really?  Again?  Is there anyone out there who thinks that if baseball starts losing money/ratings that they won't do something drastic?  Stinking their heads in the sand made them all rich.  How do you think that future looks?

I love to watch it on TV, listen to it, check the scores on my computer, go to the ballpark.  I love it.  It's peaceful. Don't always like the announcers.  If they, as a group would realize, less is more.  Silence is a beautiful thing.  I don't need to hear about the 2 seam and 4 seam fastball.  Just let the beauty of the game speak for itself.  

This season much to my fellow San Francisco Giants fans dismay...I am also watching/rooting for the Dodgers.  A high school classmate's son is the new phenom for the Dodgers, Joc Pedersen. Totally exciting!  My heart is with the Giants and the Yankees, but I will definitely keep an eye on Joc.  Batter Up!!

Sidebars:  The Apollo Theatre in NY honored Bille Holiday by giving her a plaque in their walk of fame celebrating what would've been her 100th birthday.  Really?  Just now?  Who else has a plaque?  Though glad she finally got the honor seems very delayed and a bit embarrassing.  If you missed John Oliver's Sunday night HBO show, catch it.  It's not to be believed.  It makes "journalists" look like fools.  John Oliver is an entertainment show and is doing more than anyone else uncovering and unfolding important topics.  You should definitely put it on your DVR schedule.  April showers bring May flowers.  That's where we are in NYC this week. Enjoy Spring wherever you are.  

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