Obviously I’m not talking about that wretched winter overkill known as The Holidays. No, for me and millions of other people, it’s baseball season that brings joy to our hearts and a lift to our spirits. That wonderful season has just begun.
It amazes me that all the sports commentators began predicting, before a single ball was even hit, who’s going to survive through October to prevail in the playoffs and even the World Series. How/why do they do it? There are so many variables, so much that can happen between now and October: one of the beautiful aspects of baseball is that a game can turn on a dime. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” Even more to the point, to quote Sinatra, “It’s a long long time/from May to December/and the days grow short when you reach September.” Let’s enjoy the season, not rush it—and not focus so much on winning above all else.
On the East Coast they’re going bonkers with stadia mania. Both New York parks, Shea and The House That Ruth Built, are serving their teams for the last time, as spanking new mega structures rise nearby. Some people are outraged for various reasons, and from what I hear there’s some justifiable resentment about the Yankees knocking out a hefty portion of the Bronx—but I’m too far away to get riled up about it. Instead, like everyone else I’ll be enjoying—or making fun of—the overblown hoopla that’s bound to occur as the respective teams mark the very “last” of everything with sentimental drama. Yankee Stadium has a banner up saying Farewell to the Cathedral, so you know they’re preparing to wring every last teardrop out of this. It began with The Last Opening Day, a milestone actually worth noting, but one that the majority of the public didn’t get to see. Opening Day’s game on Monday got rained out, and when they pushed it up to Tuesday, ESPN couldn’t be bothered to change their schedule, so the ceremonies and game weren’t televised. They weren’t even broadcast on WCBS radio, which I can access on the Internet. Rather than it being the Last Opening Day, it was the First Bummer of the season.
On the other hand, it was fun watching the Oakland A’s go neck and neck with the Boston Red Sox last night, even though Oakland lost in the end. Highlight of the game for me was Jack Cust knocking a pitch from the much hyped Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka out of the park.
Speaking of pitchers, I had hoped, and believed, that Barry Zito would settle into his position as highest paid Giants starter, what with the first shaky season and that other Barry now out of the way. Sad to say, Zito performed dismally during Spring training, when he faced 72 batters before recording a strikeout; and in his first game of the season, he performed poorly against the LA Dodgers, giving him an ERA of 7.20. At this point, the dirge I wrote for Zito last year, I Lost My Arm in San Francisco, holds true, and I am not pleased.
Over the winter the Tampa Bay Devil Rays went through an exorcism and sent the Devil packing. Their new name is, simply, The Rays, demonstrating the ease with which any team can change their name when it’s become outdated or burdensome. So, yes, here I go again with my litany about those damned Indians.
Baseball is always trying to project an image of enlightenment and tolerance. A few days before the season began, the Mets and White Sox played the second annual Civil Rights Game in Memphis, home of the Martin Luther King Jr. Museum. Between innings they showed parts of the museum, built on the site of MLK’s assassination, and the announcers did a lot of self-righteous jabbering about how far we’ve come. All well and good—but meanwhile, every time the Cleveland Indians flash that insipid cartoon Indian logo, anyone with any consciousness has to cringe. God only knows how Native Americans feel about it.
I’m sick of cringing and writing rants to my small blog readership, so I’m thinking on a larger scale. One of my ideas is to petition Major League Baseball, explaining why this is so offensive, and requesting a name change for Cleveland. I’m not exactly sure how to go about this—I could post the petition on my blog and ask readers to copy and circulate it, and once we get X number of signatures we’d send it in. Any suggestions or input for this project would be greatly appreciated—just put ‘em in the comment box.
Enough of my jabbering. Let’s Play Ball!
Yankees and Rays in a brawl at an Exhibition game: