All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Great American Pastime

I don't care how popular it gets in Japan -- there is still nothing more American than a game of baseball.


I remember the strike. If you're American, you remember it too. 1994 -- dispute between the players and the owners over a salary cap; players went on strike; no major league baseball. That year everybody watched football and basketball and hockey instead, and ever since, Major League Baseball's been just a little bit... mrah :-/ And it doesn't help that now that they're back in the game, they're passing the 'roids around and every good player's suspect.

So here's what I say:

Screw Major League Baseball.

That's right. I said it.

Real baseball doesn't happen in huge stadiums under florescent lights with $8 (cold) hot dogs. Real baseball doesn't happen where you're so far up in the nosebleed section that you have to watch the game on a TV anyway, even though you came to the game. Real baseball doesn't happen where the ref can make a call and you can't scream about how blind he is because you couldn't see it either. Real baseball doesn't happen where the advertisements on the wall are four thousand times the size of the damn ball.

But have no fear, gentle reader. This is not the death of America's Favorite Pastime. ©

Real baseball still happens all the time.


In fact, as you read this blog, in a sunny local park somewhere in America, real baseball is in full swing. You won't find many 90 mph curve balls. The players won't be sluggers like Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds (with the exception of a few guys like the one shown above, whose current batting average this season is somewhere around .850 -- meow!). There are sometimes cheap uniforms, sometimes not, sometimes good old-fashioned shirts & skins. When it gets dark, they won't turn on the lights; the best they can do is grab a yellow night ball and finish out the inning. Expect multi-tasking -- in addition to the throwing, batting, catching, and running involved, they'll also be drinking beer (cheap American beer) and eating a wide variety of grill-able meats. And you can't buy a cold hot dog for $8, but you can probably bum a hot one for free.

None of these factors should be used to judge their passion for the game.

Instead, consider this: the entire 1994 postseason (including the World Series) was scrapped because of a dispute over money. Owners wanted to keep more of it; players wanted to get more of it. So they argued. They all got pissed off. They all took their balls and their bats and went home. This, as you well know, is the quintessential metaphor for a retreat in the face of opposition, reserved only for the most bull-headed and infantile of men who pound their fists in rage at the very thought of negotiation, cooperation, or (God forbid!) compromise.

On the other hand, somewhere in a little corner of the Midwest, there is the Beerball League©. These guys show up faithfully every week (including on holidays, on rainy days, and yes, even on Mother's Day). They are deterred neither by the cold nor the heat, scorching sun nor the falling darkness. At the end of any given inning, at least one of them will walk off the field bleeding from that perfect slide/tag/collision/pile-up. They keep painfully intricate stats on every aspect of play. A bad call by the ump will result in the dropping of jaws, the throwing of gloves, and profuse streams of profanity, but never ever in going home. They come for nine innings and they play nine innings come hell or high water. And as the name suggests, the major difference between the Beerball League© and a standard league is that in Beerball©, every fielder is required to have a beer with him at all times.

And like amateurs all over the country, the Beerballers keep playing week after week, year after year, for one reason and one reason alone:

They frickin' love this game.

first base

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