A Much-Needed Victory
If you read my blog post last night, it was pretty obvious that I was angry at the way the Twins (despite picking up the victory) let the game end on Tuesday night. Thus, I was very glad to see Liriano pitch a good game tonight, as well as the bats coming alive in the late innings (when was the last time THAT happened on the road?!) to get the ball to Joe Nathan in an opposing stadium.
I always just want to add tonight that, no matter what happens the rest of this season, I will be pulling for the Twins all the way. That sounds like an incredibly obvious thing to say, but it seems as if a lot of negativity has been floating around the Twins this season. Whether it is hating on the bullpen, the Baker/Liriano early-season disaster, or a few batsmen (Delmon Young, Brian Buscher, etc.), there hasn’t been a whole of positivity so far into the ’09 season. Though all those areas are ripe for criticism, I think that sometimes we all need (including myself) to remember that this really is just a game. It’s like little league…you play your heart out on the field, but once the final out is recorded you don’t take it with you whether win or loss.
A few years ago, while writing for the University of Minnesota-Morris campus newspaper, The University Register, I wrote an article entitled “Why We Watch Baseball”. I would like to copy that into this blog post, as I think it really rings true this season:
Why We Watch Baseball
-With those who don’t give a (hoot) about sports, I can only sympathize. I do not resent them. I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace. But while the game is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them. (Art Hill)
If a woman has 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. (Dave Barry)…A couple of months ago, a friend of my sister happened to be over at my family’s home for dinner. This being summer time, my nightly ritual of watching the Twins game was about to commence. After the meal, she plopped down on the coach next to me and asked: Why do you like watching baseball? Not being mentally prepared for that kind of question, I gave the typical male answer: “Grunt…Because it’s better than shopping…grunt”. However, that was not good enough for her inquisitive mind, as she launched into a lecture of how professional sports mean absolutely nothing. As she mentioned something about starving people in Africa, I realized that I had nothing (at that time) to refute her claims. The games themselves do mean nothing in the grand context of history and there are more important endeavors in life than stealing second base. So, why do we watch baseball? The following argument could be applied to all professional sports, but I am going to keep it confined to a baseball context.
I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tends to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. (Walt Whitman)…A young boy idolizes his dad and wants to do everything with him. The dad, a big baseball fan, teaches his son about the game. They play whiffle ball in the back yard, watch Twins games together, and talk to each other about the game. Political events have no bearing on the young boy’s life at this time, but baseball does. Through the sport of baseball they are able to form a common bond that will last the rest of their lives, through good times and bad.
Say this much for big league baseball – it is beyond question the greatest conversation piece ever invented in America. (Bruce Catton)…The same boy has a grandfather who is 84 years old. The grandpa lived through the Great Depression, spent his childhood working on a farm, and served his country during World War II. The boy grew up playing video games, reading science fiction novels, and the closest he ever came to a battlefield was Risk or Fort Apache. The binding factor between the two–baseball. While each came from completely different backgrounds and ideologies, making communication with each other difficult, the love of sports provided a bond. They may not be able to bridge the generation gap, but it is easy to debate the merits of Johan Santana versus Dizzy Dean (the grandfather’s favorite pitcher as a child) or how Rogers Hornsby (star player of the 1920′s and 30′s) would have fared against today’s pitchers.
Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. (George F. Will)…Now that same boy has left home for college. He finds the transition difficult, but smoothened by one thing–baseball. Getting through the day might be a struggle, but at night he can watch the Twins on TV or listen to John Gordon bring the game alive on the radio. The games relax him and give him something other than school to think about. After a while his spirits raise and he is able to do much better in his classes.
People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. (Rogers Hornsby)…At the beginning of his second semester of college, the boy is feeling lonely again. Spring will be coming soon and he feels trapped, away from his family or anyone to talk to. He begins writing for the school newspaper–sports, of course. This gives him something creative to do and a way to meet new people. He becomes motivated to make himself more physically fit, letting the Twins take his mind off the treadmill he pounds every night.
Most people are in a factory from nine till five. Their job may be to turn out 263 little circles. At the end of the week they’re three short and somebody has a go at them. On Saturday afternoons they deserve something to go and shout about. (Rodney Marsh)…When the boy goes home on weekends, the last thing he wants to do is talk about the hard week of studying that has transpired. He is tired from the week and wants to relax with his family. What a better opportunity than a baseball game? Whether it means making the trip to the Metrodome or watching on TV, baseball allows the boy to unwind before another tough week. It transports him (for a few hours at least) into a world where the concerns of real-life seem to melt away.
Don’t tell me about the world. Not today. It’s springtime and they’re knocking a baseball around fields where the grass is damp and green in the morning and the kids are trying to hit the curve ball. (Pete Hamill)… The boy has now passed his love of baseball on to his two younger brothers. They play in Little League over the summer, as well as endless games of the MVP Baseball 2005 video game. Once school starts again, emails are sent back and forth about favorite baseball teams and players.
I don’t love baseball. I don’t love most of today’s players. I don’t love the owners. I do love, however, the baseball that is in the heads of baseball fans. I love the dreams of glory of 10-year-olds, the reminiscences of 70-year-olds. The greatest baseball arena is in our heads, what we bring to the games, to the telecasts, to reading newspaper reports. (Stan Isaacs)…So as you can see, the sport of baseball does have the power to enrich a life. Or, more specifically, my life; as I am the boy. While on occasion it has made stay up a little too late (darn extra-innings!) or ignore the outside world because “the game is on”, baseball’s positive influence in my life has outweighed the negatives.
You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too. (Roy Campanella)…To further appreciate the impact that baseball can have on one’s life, please see the movie Field of Dreams. My favorite sports movie of all-time, it focuses on the relationship between father and son and how that relationship can be enhanced through a mutual love of baseball. At one point in the movie, James Earl Jones (aka Voice of the Baseball Gods) explains how baseball is able to leave its mark on a person. I leave you with his quote…
The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This game: it’s a part of our past. It reminds of us of all that once was good and could be again. (Field of Dreams)
Preview (30-31, 2nd, 4.0 GB DET): Nick Blackburn (5-2, 3.30) vs. Trevor Cahill (3-5, 4.21). Another no-name Oakland pitcher…the days of Zito, Mulder, and Hudson seem so long ago!