Finally, after waiting forever, it's time to return to baseball
New rules set to deliver a new game that looks more like the old game we fell in love with in the first place
I once wrote a column for, I think, The Daily Ardmoreite, yet perhaps the Woodward News, about the magic of the phrase “pitchers and catchers report.”
Beyond the crazy idea I’d become the one to capture the magic of baseball and hope springing eternal better than all who came before, I remember nothing from it.
In retrospect, it was a crutch column. To borrow a baseball phrase, a get-me-over column. More corny and dumb than moving and meaningful, even if it really was my favorite sport.
I couldn’t write it now.
I couldn’t write it now, because the truth is I don’t care it’s the only team sport without a clock; nor was I gobsmacked by the green outfield grass upon first walking into a stadium; nor, as a child, was I entranced by the history of Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Johnson and Mathewson (while, at the time, still ignorant of the greatness of Paige, Gibson, Cool Papa Bell and Oscar Charleston).
I did not love baseball for its quirky charms.
I loved it because it was once everything.
It just was.
I vividly remember the unassisted double play I turned as a Linwood Lion T-Ball first baseman, landing on my knees to spear a line drive (hit by a 7-year-old) and lunging back to the base to tag it with my glove, knowing I had no time to get to my feet, step on the bag and double up the runner that way.
It was bang, bang!!
The first wave of the most compelling athletes of my life were Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson and Rod Carew, followed by Kareem and Dr. J, followed by maybe 10 more baseball players.
I hated that the nights I’d talk my Dad into heading to All Sports Stadium to watch the 89ers, we’d arrive in the third inning and leave in the fifth, sixth or seventh.
What’s that about?
I loved Sunday afternoon doubleheaders in that stadium, my friend Barry Webster and I, 10 or 11 years old, riding our bikes to watch every inning of both games (except when involved in “cup-ball” games at the bottom of the left field berm next to OKC’s bullpen).
Then, baseball cards.
I could write a whole column about baseball cards and, what do you know, I already have.
I explain all this because the childhood I describe can’t just be mine.
It must be others’, too, who played the game and loved the game, who knew all the rules via osmosis like it was the most natural thing in the world.
Others who remember when baseball was ESPN’s biggest sport, before it put the NFL and NBA in front of it year round; when Chris Berman’s nicknames — Frank Tanana “Daiquiri,” Kirt “What is that” Manwaring, Bert “Be Home” Blyleven and about 200 others — were the funniest and greatest things.
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