George Carlin said, “In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball, the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manger or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you’d ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform, you’d know the reason for this custom.”
All-stars beget all-stars. With my grandchildren involved in all-star baseball games last weekend---in three different towns---it reminded me of years gone by and occurred to me that the trend won’t end any time soon. I awaited my assignment and reported for duty at my nine-year-old grandson’s game, armed with red Gatorade and sunflower seeds (“Not the little package, Mimi---the big one”).
During warm-ups and pitcher-changes, the host field blasted the air with reverberating head-banging music from a tiny iPod hooked up to Leroy-sized speakers. I grew accustomed to watching our opponent’s catcher wiggling in his shin guards to the beat of Metallica. Even my grandson had to lay his glove down to dance the horse-hopping, wrist-snapping Gangnam Style.
Call it frenzy; call is mania; call it fever. Whatever it is, we all have it this time of year.
Dave Barry said, “If a woman had to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.”
When I was a kid, World Series games were played during the day, and EVERYBODY followed them closely, so that during the games, the nation’s productivity dropped to zero. If the godless Russians had really been smart, they would have invaded the United States during a World Series game. Nobody would have noticed them. They could have walked right into the White House, because all the guards would have been huddled around a transistor radio, eyes riveted to the little speaker, waiting for it to tell them what happened on the 3-2 pitch.
In 1971, the executives in charge of television and baseball, seeing this pure and passionate love affair between Americans and the World Series, said: “Hey! We need to ruin this!” And so they came up with the concept of televising World Series games at night, starting late enough so that all of the East coast viewers would be asleep by the end of the National Anthem. They also started scheduling the games later and later in the year, which meant that the World Series became less of a Fall Classic and more of a Winter Olympics event, as epitomized by Game 5 of the 1997 World Series:
Two Cleveland Indians outfielders became lost in snowdrifts and were eaten by wolves.