Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Baseball Been Very Good to Me
I have been mired in a writing slump for the past several months. The reason is diabolically simple: I only want to write about Annie. However, I have made an agreement not to do so, because she is uncomfortable being the subject of my prattling. Therefore, in an effort to snap out of my [writing] funk, I have decided to adopt the strategy that many bloggers employ during the month of April, and begin an A-Z adventure. Today’s letter is B for what else? Baseball. What? It’s not April? Sue me.
Baseball Been Very Good to Me
To quote the old Saturday Night Live show, “Baseball been very good to me.” Mind you, I only stayed up late enough to watch SNL once, because I just can’t do those late nights. The only reason I stayed up that late is because I was staying at JT’s house and Jimmy Buffet was making an appearance on TV. At least the majority of baseball games are over by around ten or so, or maybe a little later if Brian Wilson is closing out...
I have so much to say about America’s Pastime, that I doubt I will be able to do it justice, but with Spring Training opening up yesterday, in the Arizona desert, I feel compelled to try. Most of my life, dating back to 1959, the year the Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series against the Chicago White Sox, I have been a fan, the consummate fanatic. In a world filled with plenty of chaos, baseball brings a serenity to my life, unlike any other I have known.
Over the course of the past fifty-two years, I have done most of my baseball imbibing via the radio, the last five years notwithstanding (Dish TV, you know). The ebb and flow of the games, has allowed me to pursue a multitude of endeavors, from chopping/moving/stacking firewood, to writing complex term papers for school, to grading middle school papers, to simply lying down and napping. One of my earliest memories was that of lying out under the stars, circa 1960, and listening to Frank Howard of the Dodgers, blast a ninth-inning home run to win a ball game for the home team.
And, of course, we played marathon games in the empty lot directly across the street from our home on Fellowship Street, gathering the neighborhood kids together after morning summer chores were done, and playing through the day until dinner. I won’t go into detail, except to mention that one incident when my poor sister JT, got nailed by me with the baseball bat. So much blood, but she forgave me, and we settled in to listen to the Dodgers on the radio.
Wait a second! The Los Angeles Dodgers? What’s up with that? I am still savoring my beloved San Francisco Giants‘ second World Series triumph in the past three years. How do the Dodgers thrust their motley presence into my thoughts? Very simply stated, I bled Dodger Blue for the first twenty-two years of my life, until I moved up to San Jose in 1974, after being released from the Big Green Machine. Being so heavily addicted to the game, and unable to get reception for the Dodgers any longer, in the pre-internet days of yore, I began listening to the San Francisco Giants.
Ironically, while growing up in Southern California, following the Dodgers, the Giants always seemed to get the upper hand. With the two Willies, Mays and McCovey, and superior pitching, the Giants were a habitual thorn in the side of the Boys in Blue. After moving up to the Bay Area, and listening to the Giants on the radio, I switched my allegiance to the Orange and Black. After all, it is virtually impossible to listen to a team on the radio over the course of a season, without gaining an appreciation for, and a love of, that team. Make no mistake, I do love the Giants.
Having made the switch, I now saw what seemed a turnaround in the outcomes of the games played between these two opponents. The Dodgers always seemed to be able to pull out the tight games, and went to the playoffs far more frequently than the Giants. Overall, in head-to-head franchise competition, the Giants have prevailed in the win column, 1190-1166. That’s twenty-four victories’ difference, between two teams, involved in what has frequently been called the most storied rivalry in professional sports history.
However, the last time the Dodgers were in the Show was 1988. Those are sweet words to these old ears. More importantly, the Giants, as I mentioned, have won the whole enchilada, two of the last three years, using phenomenal pitching, timely hitting, and employing a young catcher named Buster Posey, the Heart and Soul of the Orange and Black. Listening to the four best announcers in baseball, whether Jon and Dave on the radio, or Kruk and Kuip on the tube, is the ultimate summer entertainment.
With the San Francisco pitchers and catchers reporting to Scottsdale yesterday, (Have you checked out Timmy’s new “do?”) the 2013 baseball campaign is gearing up, and the Giants are primed for another run at the title. Of course, the pundits will inform us that the Dodgers are the favorite to take the division, with their 230 million dollar payroll.
Well, I am here to tell you, payrolls don’t win baseball games, guts and determination-not to mention pitching-do. The Dodgers can buy some of the best players available, but they can’t buy a pennant. That has to be won on the diamond. I am here to tell you that I’ll put our starting lineup against any that the Dodgers can trot out, and sit back to listen to/watch 150-plus games, and in the end, we’ll view the Dodgers from our rear-view mirrors, as they once again shake their heads in disbelief.
Grab some pine, Bums, as Kruk would say; you’re out of here.