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Wednesday, October 15, 2003
The History of Baseball (As it Applies to Mr. Lunchbreak)
You’re Getting Very Sleepy*

Unless you’re new here, you know I don’t really like baseball. I find it uniquely boring . . . not much higher on the activity scale than golf. But I didn’t always feel that way.

Things started with tee-ball (or Atom League, as they called it here). I can’t remember what our team was called, but my dad was the coach. He continued coaching the next two seasons of Junior League, where there was actual pitching.

I remember the early baseball-training years. Learning to hit a baseball hanging on a rope from a tree in our front yard, and the time I hit the girl next door in the face with a bat when she snuck up behind me. (I never saw her; it was the back swing.) And learning to catch and how that lesson of “watching the ball into your glove” would result in a bloody nose.

My first season of “pitch” baseball, I only made contact with the ball twice from the plate; I think both times resulted in short ground-outs. The second season, I was a much better hitter. I don’t remember my batting average, but I did hit at least one triple and a couple doubles.

For that last Junior-League season, I played third base. I thought I was pretty good, but my defining moment was when the ball came to me and the guy at third decided not to try and make it to home plate and he tried to get back to third base and I dove to tag him out and I got his cleats in my face and the ball rolled out of my glove and he was called safe. And I cried.

So, I didn’t have a future in baseball. The next league (Junior Majors) was where teams were sponsored by local businesses and the pitching was faster, kids older, etc. I was destined to be a spectator only.

Which works out fine down here . . . if you’re a Braves fan. TBS runs every one of their games, all season long. I know because, when I was growing up, my mother watched a lot of them. (This might have had something to do with me being a Phillies fan, come to think of it.)

I’ve been to see the Braves twice. The first time was in eighth grade. We took a group trip to Atlanta for educational purposes and took in a game while we were there. As it turns out, they were playing the Phillies. I wore my Phillies hard hat, and they won 8-2 . . . if memory serves. (The next time I went, I can’t remember much. It was with my mother, about eight or ten years ago. I just remember the guys sitting in front of us were playing mound ball.)

When I was in high school, I think I became turned off from baseball because of the redneck pricks at our school that played it. Or maybe it was because, when I watched sports, I liked the ones with full contact (like football) or the ones where there aren’t long periods of the competitors shifting their weight from foot to foot, scratching their balls, and intermittently spitting their chew. Baseball turned into something both grotesque and boring.

My friend JG was brought up a Red Sox fan, but he became a Yankees fan later in life. When I lived in Albany, I started following the Red Sox (a little) because one of their relievers had been our pitcher back in Junior League. (Of course, he was later traded away.) So, I spent a lot of time reading box scores to see how he was doing. And talking to JG about the pennant race. But I didn’t really watch much baseball.

And, yet, here I am, a few years later, frothing over the post-season. Granted, it’s because I like a good story. I mean, what better story is there than the potential match-up of the Cubs and Red Sox? Should the Red Sox lose tonight, we could have the Cubs vs. Yankees, which would be good, too.

Yankees vs. Marlins? Eh . . . what channel is basketball on?

* Alternate title idea shamelessly stolen borrowed from Estella.

** Note to Cubs fan(s) on the left-field foul line: If the ball is coming towards you, and the left fielder is coming to catch it, and it looks like it might be close to the railing where the guy might be able to make a play on the ball, let the guy catch the ball. I mean, really, he’d probably even throw it up to you when the play is over. Wouldn’t that be better than leaving the Marlins with men on base and only one out. We’re not talking hindsight here, either, people. We’re talking curses. We’re talking haven’t-been-to-the-World-Series-since-the-last-World-War. We’re talking if-the-Cubs-don’t-win-tonight-it’s-all-your-fault-how-are-you-gonna-live-with-that?