It’s been over a year since I last posted on this blog. I had left it for dead, assuming that I would never return. So why did I? Well, I thought about something else I wanted to write about. I came over to wordpress to start a new blog when I realized I already have a perfectly good one right here.
So now, I have a brand new theme, and the first several months of this thing are now going to fit in with the future of it, but if anyone wants to read a little bit about baseball history, it’s there in the archives.
I certainly haven’t given up on the idea of writing about baseball. In fact, it is baseball that has brought me back to the blogosphere.
I never thought it would come from Who’s the Boss?, but Tony Micelli, played by Tony Danza, seemed to me to sum up the grand game better than anyone else. He was involved in an argument with his daughter Samantha, played by Alyssa Milano, about some nonsense, modelling I think. The important thing is, when Tony made the comparison to getting knocked down in the batter’s box and getting up and digging right back in, Samantha responded, “It’s not baseball, dad!”
Tony looked offended. He raised an eyebrow and stated defiantly, “Everything’s baseball.”
Certainly that’s a notion that had been expressed many times before and has been expressed many times since. In fact, just a few days after I saw that episode, The Simpsons displayed the same attitude, thanks to guest star Mike Scioscia who, very annoyed, responded, “Yes it is,” to the remark “Not everything’s baseball.”
Perhaps my favorite instance was in Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel. When one character, who had lost the ability to speak after being hit in the throat by a ball, wrote the words “Stuff Baseball,” he was met by this reaction from the commissioner, “It is a man who has lost all sensibility who would utter those words.”
Yes, it’s not a novel concept (although in Roth’s case, I guess it was), but somehow, when I saw Tony Danza utter that line a few months ago, it struck me. Everything is baseball.
That idea has been present in me more lately than ever before, as I get set to begin my third season covering the Frontier League’s Windy City ThunderBolts. Though they play just four months out of the year, it was during the considerably longer offseason that baseball dominated my thoughts.
I dedicated myself this winter to learning more about the game and becoming more a part of the tradition I’ve followed my whole life.
The more I read about the national pastime, the more I remembered how big a part of me the game is.
I grew up with baseball. I consider myself a pretty big basketball and football fan as well, but there is a difference between following other sports and following baseball. I allowed the game to entirely engulf me during my childhood years. At the age of seven, I saw probably every Cubs game in a strike shortened season. By the time I was 13, I was a walking baseball encyclopedia. I only wish I remembered half of that stuff.
When my brother died recently, I spent a lot of time looking back on our childhoods together, and I was reminded more than ever of what an enormous part of our lives were consumed by, you guessed it, baseball.
The fact that the Cubs played most of their games in the daytime during our youuths allowed us to watch a lot more games than we would otherwise have been able to. In the summer, of course, we didn’t watch every game. That would have cut into our time playing ball out in the yard, or better yet, in the park down the street.
My brother and I along with our two cousins used to play four-man baseball routinely. I vividly remember one morning, getting out of bed and going out to the backyard where I very excitedly discovered that there was a game already underway. I jumped in and soon had a black eye because we were smart enough to play with plastic wiffle bats and a league ball. It wasn’t a very big yard, but we had a high wooden fence, so it wasn’t easy to hit home runs.
When we did make it over the fence, though, it was an adventure. There was a kind of scary dog in the yard across the alley, and if the dog was outside that day, we would be down one ball. Now that I think about it, we spent way too much time walking through other people’s yards. But we sure din’t get all the balls back. One that we lost was signed by Alex Rodriguez. My brother brilliantly entered that one into play after he had received it at an Appleton Foxes game. Rodriguez was only 18 at the time. Who knew?
As we got older, we spent more and more time playing in the park and less time in the yard. I always made sure to check the box scores in the paper so that we could play as Major League teams and use the appropriate lineups.
On the days we didn’t have a bat, there were hours of running bases and of course, Throw Up in the Air Baseball. The pitcher had total control of the game as he threw the ball behind his back, declared a hit and the rest of us tried to catch it to record an out.
If we weren’t playing or watching baseball, the go to activity was trading cards. When, after several years, I realized my collection was bland as could be and I kept getting cheated in trades, i decided to start collecting checklists. I had quite a few.
As life went on, my love of baseball never waned. For Christmas when I was twelve, I received what I still consider the best gift I’ve ever gotten. It was simply a book about baseball. Titled 100 Years of Major League Baseball, it contained season summaries of every year between 1900 and 1999. I read one year every night and after nearly four months, I was a scholar.
I died a little when the Cubs lost in 2003, and I don’t know if I’ve ever been the same person since. I don’t think I realized at the time how much that playoff series would effect me in the long run, but I have had an increasingly difficult time being the fan that I was when I was ten years old.
Perhaps part of growing up is letting go of baseball. For me, when I was a kid, baseball was my life, during the summer anyway. So now, over the past few years I have had to put away childish things in order to grow up.
The problem is, I am not ready for that. I much prefer the years when childish things dominated my life, and for that reason, I’m happy to have found what I have: eternal youth, baseball.
As the radio guy for the ThunderBolts, I get to watch games every day and not worry about the way the corporate world and the owners’ greed has ruined what once I cherished.
If you look closely at the Frontier League, you’ll see pretty much all the same problems that exist in the majors. There are too many playoff teams, the DH is around. But still, for some reason, over the past two seasons in the minors, I have rediscovered the passion for the game that had been missing the last few seasons of Major League ball.
For that reason more than any other, I wanted to return to the written word to chronicle the exploits of myself and the team during the 2011 season.
I’m not sure exactly what this blog is going to look like in a few months. I plan on writing about whatever comes to mind about the ThunderBolts, about the road trips, about baseball in general or about nothing in particular.
There is much more I would like to write about right now, but I won’t. There is plenty of time to get all of my thoughts out there (my boring, boring thoughts), so I’ll leave it at this for now. I hope to continue to update this space as close to every day as I am able. We’ll see how this goes.
Right now, I’m just happy to once again be around the game of baseball. Almost constantly around the game of baseball, in fact. I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk and write about this great game, and as I look up now, I can see that there’s a game about to start.
So, let’s play ball.