Category Archives: Fans

IT FEELS LIKE CHRISTMAS EVE….

Baseball’s Showcase or Fall Classic as it has been historically termed,  comes to life beginning tomorrow night. After 162 regular seasonFB_IMG_1445889516448 games and two playoff series, only two teams remain standing. The World Series is also, in many ways, baseball’s last stand before the NFL seizes the attention of sports fans until next February when the cycle renews itself and 30 teams arrive in Florida or Arizona with the sole purpose of being one of the two teams here in 2016.

For fans like myself, it usually doesn’t matter whose playing. MLBtrophyBut this year, it feels like Christmas Eve now because we can anticipate a series of gifts that may leave us gasping for breath – as was the case last year when the Royals took the Giants to the final out of the seventh game with a final score of 1-0.

The first gift I want to see opened is the contest between the Met strike out pitching and the put the ball in play Royals. Remember, the Royals don’t walk a lot – but they also don’t strike out a lot either. In fact, the Royals struck out the fewest number of times of any team in baseball ( beating the next closest team by almost 300 fewer whiffs). 

The other gift I can’t wait to see opened is the one with the image (1)fans wrapped inside. These are two great baseball cities and the players are excited about performing in front of them. You may not realize it but Kansas City is an integral part of baseball history and their fans know it. The Monarchs were the vanguard team in the (then) Negro Leagues. And there is a must stop visit to the Negro Baseball Museum in Kansas City that is a must for all fans. And the Mets, of course, have New York City as their backdrop. And judging by the newspapers and the amount of ink being used around here, this is BIG!

Indeed, Christmas comes early for fans of baseball……….

CENTER STAGE TODAY – THE CUBS AND WRIGLEY FIELD

With no disrespect to the New York Mets and what promises to be an electric Citi Field,  the centerj of the baseball universe today has to be Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs. Opened in 1914, this venue (along with Fenway Park and the old Yankee Stadium) stands as a Mecca for baseball fans – including myself in 2009 – across America. Even today, after the “lights came on” few years ago, a Friday afternoon game at Wrigley is reason to leave work early and bask in the bleachers Sun on Addison Street.

For Cubs fans, today is also a day to bask in the setting sun of a 96 game winning season (the third best in baseball) and to welcome home a team that carries with them a hope and a prayer that this just might be the season when all doubts spanning numerous decades are cast aside – and a long awaited Championship comes to the Southside of Chicago.

Excitement and drama of this kind draws itself from a long history that dates back to 1876 when the Cubs became an original franchise of the National League. Interestingly, they were known in those days as the Chicago White Stockings (not to be confused with the White Sox), not taking the name of the Cubs until 1902. And yes, the last World Series won by the Cubs was in 1945 – a drought long enough to span the years of the team’s oldest fans.

But today, all that changes or it at least moves to the back of everyone’s mind as Jake Arietta takes the ball  to face the St. Louis Cardinals, a team much different from the Cubs. For while the Cubs field a team stacked with very young home grown talent, the Cardinals present a team of veterans who have a storied history behind them with the second most Championships (only the Yankees have more) to face the hottest pitcher in baseball today. 

It doesn’t get better than this. The steel beams erected more than a century ago will be rocking and shaking at Wrigley today. You couldn’t tell a better baseball story than the the one being played out in Chicago this afternoon.

 

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CC SABATHIA – MANNING UP

Every once in a while we get a jolt that reminds us that the men who play the boys game we love so dearly are just that……men…..who like us all have frailties. We may tend to look at (and want to believe in)  the caricature we see on the playing field day in and day out as though they were some kind of a wind up toy you send out there until the batteries fade or die out completely. That mirage often coincides with the image of baseball as America’s Pastime and pastoral ambiance. It works well until it doesn’t……..

You might recall, for instance, the piece I wrote about Wilmer Flores who was captured on camera New York Yankeesweeping when he thought he was being traded to another team, when in fact all he was doing is expressing his humanity. It is in this same vein that I believe we should look at the events of the past few days pertaining to CC Sabathia.

CC Sabathia is a man who carried the Yankee’s pitching staff on his back from the Championship season of 2009 through last year when a knee injury and resulting surgery virtually left him for dead with many scribes (including myself) wondering if he would ever pitch for the Yankees again. In truth, he probably struggled with his  need to to learn how to pitch again without his 95mph fastball as much as the illness that was challenging him. These are the stories we will never know……the why and the how……and have no right to know (Shame on the story in the N.Y. Post today). 

All we need to know is that CC is taking care of business for his family and loved ones. Are we shocked and disappointed about the timing of his move forward to rehab with the Playoffs looming? Of course we are, but you can be sure that everyone in that Clubhouse supports his decision to a man because they are the “robots” who go out there to perform for us……….and they get it because they know what it’s like to be on stage in “The Show”.  Good luck CC and we look forward to seeing you on the mound next year……….healing and healthy.

MLB – YOU SUCK! (MY ONETIME RANT)

I don’t like to whine when I do this, but I’m sitting on my back deck in Catskill N.Y. The temperature is 57 degrees and AccuWeather says the wind chill is about the same. Trust me, it’s not. The East Coast is always damp at this time of the year and the chill as they say here “goes right through you”. Meanwhile……..

2015 Major League Baseball Playoffs begin this Tuesday, October 6, and will conclude 6a00d8341c630a53ef010535c99713970c-800wiNovember 4th if the World Series goes seven games around the same time as the NFL season is beyond its half way point. If any of the East Coast teams venture forward in the Playoffs (Toronto excepted because they have a domed venue), it’s likely – again- that we won’t be seeing the best of the best able to perform at their best because pitchers will be struggling to get a firm grip on the ball especially for breaking balls, while hitters will be praying to God they don’t hit one off the end of the bat that numbs their hands and arms for a few minutes or so.

This is supposed to be the Fall Classic, but it’s not. It turns instead to a grind to watch (much less attend) these games. They start late and end the next working day past or close to midnight – forget the kids – the future fans of tomorrow – it’s the television ratings that matter.

The owners insist on a prolonged 162 game schedule – over six months – which I don’t mind because I can’t get enough baseball – and I get it – COLD-BASEBALLthe East Coast is not the center of the universe anymore – but isn’t it time to reduce the schedule back to where it was at 154 games? Sometimes, less is more. And if the almighty dollar rules baseball, as it does the NFL, then maybe this should be a chance (fat chance maybe) for the owners to step up and demonstrate that they mean what they say……….that it’s really all about the fans. I’d like to go to the Yankees one game playoff….I’m a fan…..but there’s no way I’m going to sit there and freeze my butt off. Don’t believe me?……watch on TV how many empty seats the fat cats leave empty…..

If you’ve gotten this far, thank you. I promise I won’t do this again. 
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THE RITUALS OF BASEBALL

   In addition to the intrigue and mysteries of the game itself, there is a whole lot more to witness while enjoying your stay at the ballpark. Among these are what I term as baseball rituals. No matter what ballpark you visit, these rituals will be choreographed in a manner so precise that you will find yourself following the beat of their serene rhythm.

Rule number one (gloriously there is only one rule) is to get to the ballpark early – as soon as the gates are open. rituals5Not only is this often a good time to snag an autograph or two, it’s the best time to Restwatch the players go about their ritualistic way of “doing business”…….or to put it another way…….their job.

From the stretches loosening the hamstrings to the soft long tosses by pitchers strengthening their arm……..to the quiet conversations between a manager and player………and on to the endless banter between men playing a boys game you will see and hear it all. Continue reading