Baseball and Tradition

I’m not so old to remember the days when the baseball season began in April.  When I was a kid, I used to look forward to Opening Day so much I couldn’t sleep the night before.  I still look forward to it, but that was back when “juice” was something you got out of a carton in fridge; when pitchers could throw inside and not be tossed, when the Braves were perennial doormats, and the Cubs, well nothing has changed for the Cubs.

Back in the Good Ol’ Days, the Reds opened the season at Riverfront Stadium.  In April.  No other team opened before them.  Now, the Red Sox and the A’s open in Japan.  The Braves and the Nationals will play Sunday night and there’s a risk of snow. Can someone give me a logical reason for this?  Does Commissioner Selig really think it’s promoting the game of baseball in Japan?  Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems we have no problem attracting Japanese talent.  Why?  Because we pay their stars a lot more money!

It appears the Commish has little or no respect for tradition.  Like so much of life, tradition requires standards of excellence.  So does respect.  If players had respect for tradition, perhaps they wouldn’t be so prone to “juicing”.  Souvenirs would be gratefully handed over to the Baseball Hall of Fame, instead of being auctioned to the highest bidder.  And if a batter was brushed back, he would accept it as part of the game and realize that it was a time-honored tradition.  Come to think of it, I don’t ever recall Tim Foli or Mark Belanger being brushed back because they were home run threats, yet again, if they played between 1995 and 2007, both would be hitting 25 to 35 home runs a year and about 100 points higher.

The game of baseball deserves better.  It deserves a better commissioner.  Pete Ueberroth, where have you gone?  It deserves players that not only had skill, but class.  Clemente?  Aaron?  Concepcion?  Fisk?  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of skilled players today with class, but they’re not the ones that get the attention.  Garrett Anderson?  Maddux?  Glavine?  You know where I’m going with this…

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate other sports.  But nothing is like Opening Day for me, and the game of baseball, the most cerebral and strategic of sports, is truly America’s Pastime.  Maybe I’m too nostalgic, but I wistfully yearn for times gone by, when tradition meant something.

Play ball!

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