Wednesday, October 19, 2005
by Drew Boatman
Good Morning! No baseball last night as we await Game 6 of the NLCS tonight! I can't wait! By the way, if you missed yesterday's posting, be sure to click here to read the Q&A with Kevin Slowey, a top Twins pitching prospect.
I said that I wouldn't be posting too often on Wednesdays in the offseason. I didn't write anything last Wednesday, but I couldn't stay completely away for too long. I received a Why Baseball e-mail from Drew that was absolutely incredible. I guess I could have waited another week or two to post it, but I couldn't wait. I think it is excellent and wanted to share it right away.
So today, I am posting the second installment of the Why Baseball series. Last Thursday, I posted the first, by Roger. I led into Roger's posting by highlighting what I am looking for from this series. I would like readers of this site to write to me and tell me what it is that is so great about baseball, why do we follow and love this great game? If you are at all interested in writing an essay telling us how you feel about the game and why, please e-mail me. When I receive the e-mail, I will try to give you a timeline of when I would want your essay, so you can wait to put your words together. If you would like to know more specifically what I am looking at from this, click here for my introduction to the series. I hope that many of you will take the time to participate because I think we all can learn a lot from other's experiences.
So, without further ado, I present Why Baseball?, by Drew Boatman:
But first, I asked Drew to tell us a little bit about himself:
I'm from Menomonie, WI, but I now live in Minneapolis. I'm an aspiring film-maker and currently work at the Federal Reserve Bank. Despite growing up in Wisconsin, I've been a Twins fan my whole life (as well as a Packers fan). I enjoy reading books like The Summer Game and King of the World, I dislike the way sports are being written about at the current time in the mainstream media, and I think we all should have listened to Hunter S Thompson a lot more closely. My favorite sports movies are The Program, Let It Ride, and Slap Shot. Honorable mention goes to Best of the Best.
Why not football? Because parity and catering to the lowest common denominator have stripped away its soul and passion. Because the coaches matter too much, and players become nameless, faceless thoroughbreds, void of skill and substance.
Why not basketball? Too many athletes taking plays, games, road-trips, and seasons off. All Cassell and Sprewell and not enough Garnett make Jack a dull boy. Too many superstars that the NBA pimps endlessly. Too many “X factors”. Too much excitement during the playoffs, too much apathy during the regular season. Too many teams in the postseason.
Why not hockey? Norm Green took away my will to live.
Why not soccer? Once every 4 years is too long to wait to get excited about soccer. I can watch premiership until I’m blue in the face, but I can’t identify with any of those teams.
Why baseball? It’s the game of poetry. It’s the game of craft, of talent. Of skills, learned and unlearned. It’s the game of rookies and veterans. The game of arbitration. The game of general managers having to oversee not only their teams, but 3-5 minor league affiliates as well. It’s the thinking man’s game.
No, it is. It’s the game that requires thought. Anybody can turn on a football game and see what’s going on. And if not, be assured Jack Stone and Buck Knuckle in the booth will be glad to explain it to you… over and over and over. But in baseball, things happen all the time. Little things occur that change the game, the inning, the at-bat. Jeter steps out of the box after Pedro has completed his wind-up. The pitch is waved off. It was a strike, would have been strike three. Pedro responds by burying a fastball in Jeter’s back. C’est la vie.
The little things are the game. And Herb Carneal tells us about those little things. So does Mr. Scully. And Mr. Baseball. They give it substance, life, color. They take a sport and make it a performance. The take the entertainment and make it meaningful. They take the mundane and make it entertaining. And occasionally, they make the game extraordinary. But they don’t over-react. They understand the history. They understand that this game has been played for over 150 years, and all of the things happening now have happened before, in one form or another. There is nothing new under the sun, or between the lines.
Why, baseball? Why have you tried to alienate your fan base? Why have you been so spineless in matters of substances and Expos? Why are people like Wayne Huizenga allowed to operate, nay profit, at the expense of fans? Why do you continue to give Carl money, to reward him for his underpayment of franchise heroes? Why do you keep treating us like we’ll be back?
Oh, right. Because we will be.
This game means too much to “boycott”. And if a group of fans is angry and upset at the cronyism and behind the scenes cloak-and-dagger routine, well, there’s always kids. Kids keep filling seats, keeping score, holding their gloves tight in case of a foul ball, and marveling at their favorite sport played at its peak level. Tell me if you see this many wide eyes and smiles at the next Timberwolves game.
Why, baseball! You old dog you! You’ve taught us things we didn’t know, you’ve showed us things we didn’t think could be done. We never thought we’d see an at-bat in the World Series where a player was expected to hit a home run (see: Bonds, Barry 2002). We never thought we’d see two grand slams in one inning by the same player. We are constantly amazed, shocked even. Just when the game seems at its most dreary, amazing things can happen. When Liriano pitched his first game, the stadium buzzed with excitement upon the announcement. Then Gary Mathews Jr. welcomed young Francisco to the big leagues by hitting one to the Field Fare located outside section 141. No problem, because you set the next three down in order, striking out 2 and making them look completely foolish. Baseball! We never knew you had it in you!
Why baseball? Because of Bob Clemente. Because of George Brett. Because of Albert Pujols and Johan Santana. Because of the ’69 Mets and the ’97 Marlins. Because of Jack Morris and Donnie Moore. Because of Josh Beckett and Randy Johnson. Because if you can’t find a hero in this game, you’re in the wrong game.
The game means different things to different people. It is an escape for some, natural and fluid for others. It is a metaphor, a point of contention, a painful memory, a pastime. It changes, but it never changes. And summer nights are the best nights. Baseball knows this. They have them all to themselves.
Why baseball? Because it’s beautiful.
So, there you have it. Wasn't that great!? Thank you Drew for taking the time to write up this wonderful Why Baseball article. I think it was terrific! Let me know what you think. If you would like to ask me or Drew and questions, please feel free to e-mail me.
Just one more thought... Game 5 was remarkable! Don't forget that Brad Lidge is incredible! But have you ever seen a ball hit that far to left field? Albert Pujols is simply amazing! For more, be sure to read Brian Gunn's take on the game over at The Hardball Times!
Just a couple more thoughts, and a couple of things I missed lately:
Be sure to check out Aaron's Baseball Blog from yesterday. He briefly discussed a dozen or so free agents and how they may or may not look as a possible Twins player. I happen to agree with him on a number of the players, although I don't think that they should consider Nomar Garciaparra. He actually changed my mind on a possible role for Mike Piazza with the team. However, I can't imagine Piazza being willing to play for a salary that I would consider giving him. Also, signing Reggie Sanders would be an injury risk, but it is hard to deny his value if you consider that he always makes the playoffs! Well, he has been five of the past six years.
Check out the fun little guessing game over at Will Young's Twins site. There is still time to answer!
Could the Brewers be a possible trade partner with the Twins for the services of Kyle Lohse. Check out Al's Ramblings.
I hate to say this. I was a daily reader of the Star-Tribune online site. OK, fine, I would check it out a couple of times a day. It was a great source for information. I have to admit that its new format is awful. It is far more confusing. I don't understand how they could have thought that it was in any way easy. Maybe the online format was done to help the actual newspaper sales? Maybe others will become so frustrated with this horrible new format that they will have to go out and buy the newspaper! That is good news for the St. Paul Pioneer Press because I have started going there now for more sports information.
A couple of nameless Vikings players who were on The Boats gave some description of what happened on the boat. Some goes with the Al & Alma information. Some is plenty different.
From Charley Walter's article yesterday:
Outfielder Jason Kubel, who missed the 2005 season while recovering after reconstructed knee surgery, hit a home run and double for the Twins' Fort Myers club Monday in a 9-2 Florida Instructional League victory over Baltimore.
Former Twins outfielder Michael Restovich, 26, the Rochester Mayo High School graduate now with the Pittsburgh Pirates, had five hits, including two doubles, in his first 11 at-bats for the Magallanes team in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Charley Walters is the Pioneer Press's version of Sid Hartman. Of course, Walters pitched in six games for the Twins at the start of the 1969 season.
At the time I went to bed last night, Grand Canyon (the Arizona Fall League team that Twins prospects are playing for) was in just the fourth inning. Denard Span was already 2-2 with a run. However, he was also listed for a Caught Stealing at a Pick Off. Now, people may need to explain this to me. Is that the same thing? If he is picked off of 1B, is he not listed as caught stealing? Someone will need to explain this to me.
And finally, a huge congratulations to Josh Buchholz. You remember that he wrote a guest column for me last March regarding independent league baseball and specifically the Fargo/Moorhead Redhawks. Anyway, he was just promoted to the team's General Manager. With his ten years in the Redhawks organization, including the last six as the team's Director of Baseball Operations, the job is well earned and I'm sure he will do a fantastic job of keeping the Redhawks on top of the Northern League!
And on that note, I will call it a day. I certainly hope that you have found the "Why Baseball" article by Drew worth reading, and I hope that many of you will be interested in participating. I will be back tomorrow with Roger's Twins minor league pitcher rankings. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
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