Sunday, September 29, 2013

Play ball !

The 1963 World Series started almost exactly 50 years ago - on October 2, 1963. The Series pitted the New York Yankees against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ultimately, the Dodgers prevailed, ending the hopes of the Yankees for winning three World Series in a row. It was the third title in franchise history for the Dodgers, and it was the first time in the history of baseball that the Yankees were swept in a World Series in only 4 games.

In 2013, the World Series won’t even start until October 23, and could last as long as Halloween, a full eight weeks into the start of the NFL season. Sadly, the World Series no longer generates the excitement that it did in 1963, which prompted a column in today’s New York Times:

is the game over?

Baseball is no longer “America’s pastime”, and it is now less popular than either professional football or professional basketball. The last eight years have produced the seven least watched Series in the history of baseball.

There WAS a time when baseball was a lot more important to most Americans. As James Earl Jones intoned in the 1984 movie, “The Natural”,

“the memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces .. the one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball .. Americans rolled by like steamrollers …, they’ve been erased, rebuilt, and erased again but baseball has marked the time .. the field, the game .. It’s a part of our past .. It reminds us of all that was once good, and could be again”

The irony of “America’s pastime” is that the balls that are used in play aren’t even made in America, and haven’t been for more than 30 years. Today, they are made in Costa Rica by workers who make $1.60 an hour, and produce roughly 200 baseballs a week.

Baseballs have been made in very much the same manner for over 100 years, but very few of us have seen HOW they are made. The link below (courtesy of YouTube) will let you watch baseballs being born:

how are baseballs made?

The Arizona Diamondbacks are arguably the most successful expansion team in the history of baseball, since the team won a World Series title in 2001, their 4th year in operation. In spite of that fact, though, I have yet to watch even ONE Diamondbacks game, and I’ll probably always be a Chicago Cubs fan, in spite of their years of futility.

One of the most famous play in the history of baseball was the Tinker to Evers to Chance triple play, which happened way back in 1907. However, THE most famous play in baseball was actually performed by another Cub, Rick Monday, in 1976, and should be watched again:

who is Rick Monday?

It’s easy to get caught up with the nonsense in Congress, the strife overseas, and the bickering over Obamacare, but there IS a way to make the world a more enjoyable place.

The smell of freshly cut grass, the crack of a bat, the roar of the crowd, and the taste of a ball park hotdog can chase away a lot of tension, and make you believe, at least for a while, the words used by James Earl Jones:

“life used to be good, and can be again … “

Let’s play ball !

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