Monday, January 30, 2012

Thinking About Baseball

I's Super Bowl Week. And yes, I'm pleased for the Giants (or "Steelers East", as I've called them on occasion). So I should be all about football. Or hockey, with the Rangers rocking in the Garden. Or basketball, with the not.

So anyway, back to baseball. I saw my friend, Connecticut State Representative in the 151st District, Fred Camillo post that there were only 20 days to pitchers and catchers. I noticed that same number on the marquee outside of Yankee Stadium (you know, the new house) and it made me smile.

Now don't get me wrong. The arrival of pitchers and catchers is lovely, except it's purely symbolic. Sure, they're there...but that's it. It's more about the promise of the season coming (which is still roughly six weeks after that day).

Fred's posting got some of his friends (including one crazy mad baseball historian type) to start commenting. Fred deserves credit for getting us going by posting numbers that baseball fans know and that are at the very heart of the game. Come on: 714, 56, 511, .406. Of course, I chimed in with 3000 and 300 (one could also say 30/30 or 40/40). But don't forget about 61 in '61 and Tinkers to Evers to Chance, "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", and "Casey at the Bat."

Everybody knows them. Everybody has heard the line "Mighty Casey has struck out", or "There's no joy in Mudville."

There are the nicknames: "The Duke of Flatbush", "The Babe", "The Iron Horse", "The Mick", The Yankee Clipper", "The Splendid Splnter", "The Say Hey Kid", "Donnie Baseball", "Three Finger" Brown, "Big John Mize", "Catfish", "Stan the Man", "Hammering Hank", and John "Blue Moon" Odom.

And that's just a few of them. Of course, I haven't forgotten about Lawrence Peter "Lawdie" Berra, the kid from the Hill section of St. Louis whose friends (including Joe Garagiola) knew him as "Yogi."

And how many things has Yogi added to society? From Yoo Hoo drinks to his malaprops!

I keep hearing the game is dead, or on life support, and feel free to run with that. But no game causes people to post "20 days" to the opening of TRAINING CAMP, when only the pitchers and catchers and rookies report!

I love football. Love it. Love hockey - some of the best sports history there is. Love basketball. Golf. Tennis (did you watch the brilliance of yesterday's Novak Djokovic/Rafael Nadal Aussie Open Final?). But Babe Ruth once said it best, albeit in 1947: "The only real game I think in the world, is baseball."

Incidentally, Fred commented about Van Lingle Mungo (yes, that was his real name), who became better known as the title of a bossa nova jazz song by Dave Frishberg in 1969. Again, only baseball.

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