Thursday, July 05, 2007

There's No Crying in Baseball!

God bless those men and women out there who have been able to remain basbeball fans over the last decade or so. (I'm talking to you, Saint Kyle!) Although there have been a couple of seasons during those years that my generally waning interest was piqued, for the most part I gave up on MLB a long time ago. The game is a Slugger's Ball now, with drugged-up uber-athletes swinging for the fences every time... and connecting far too often. There's no real defense in baseball anymore, save whatever is provided by the bullpen, and you rarely see any pitcher work a whole nine innings. When was the last time you saw, or even thought to look for, one of the most beautiful and exciting inventions in sport--the "squeeze play"? When was the last time you saw an outfielder that didn't look like a linebacker? When was the last time that you thought for even a second that the stronger defense might win the game? As far as I'm concerned, they might as well just let all the fielders take a seat and go ahead and instead stage 60-something Home Run Derbys every season.

I grew up an Atlanta Braves fan. And I don't mean the Atlanta Braves that people know now--I'm talking about the Braves of the early 80's (Dale Murphy, Rafeal Ramirez, Claudel Washington and his toothpick wadering around the outfield). Being a Braves fan used to be something that people were assigned to do as penance... and for really horrible sins, like kicking cute puppies. It was an exercise in futility. It was truly tragic. And nobody did that tomahawk chop thing. But my great-greandmother (aka, "Milkshake Grandma") taught me this valuable early-life lesson: Somebody's gotta love the losers. And, man, did we love the Braves.

As we all know, Barry Bonds is closing in on one of the most impressive records in sports history--Hank Aaron's 755 home runs. But it's hard to be excited about that, given the allegations and court cases (not to mention Bonds' capital-A-Attitude) sullying the event. I don't want to sound like a crybaby baseball purist, but...well... I guess I want to sound like a crybaby baseball purist. What happened to the game? You know there's something rotten in Denmark when even Hammerin' Hank says that he doesn't want to be there for Bonds' record-breaking longshot. Says Hank (the Brave) of his decision not to attend the game: "If I chased behind Barry, then I would be endorsing everything Barry is doing."

I'm not watching it either. Just give me the peanuts and cracker jacks... you can keep the old ballgame.

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