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Home Run Baker by Gary D. Crawford

Opening Day for major league baseball was just a few weeks ago, on April 2. By now you’re probably following the Orioles or the (ahem) Yankees, or the (aargh) Red Sox, or whichever team interests you. Or perhaps, like me, you don’t pay too much attention until the playoffs roll around in the fall. Even if you aren’t a sports fan, however, I hope you do watch a baseball game now and again. Baseball is a pastoral game. In a time when there seems to be overmuch violence ~ in the news, in sports, in movies, even in games ~ a baseball game offers a brief respite. A s G eorge Carlin memorably pointed out, even the language of baseball has its quaint charm. You don’t commit a foul and receive a penalty; you just make an “error,” which counts for nothing (other than the mistake itself), just a tiny blot on your record. In virtually every other game, the team on offense has the ball and guards it jealously. In baseball, only the defense touches the ball. Should an offensive player touch the ball, he is declared “out.” Most of the time, except for the batter, the offensive team can’t even be seen, for they lurk out of sight in their “dugout.”

Every other sport is directed by a coach dressed in a suit (or skirt), but a baseball team is directed by a “manager” who doesn’t get to dress up, but has to wear the same uniform as his young players. In baseball, there’s no set time limit. Games can go on for hours; there are no ties. On the other hand, if it rains, the game is “delayed” or even called off; baseball players never have to slog through the mud or snow. It’s a gentleman’s game, played in a “park,” not on a gridiron. Even the size of the park isn’t defined. Football is warlike, with air and ground attacks, blitzes and violent clashes between the offensive and defensive lines. At the football stadium, we ask what down it is, but at the baseball park, we ask who’s up. Instead of scoring a goal or a touchdown, in baseball you “go home.” How delightful. Even the spectators are considered by being given a little recess during the seventh-inning “stretch.” O ne m ig ht say t hat ba seba l l helped A merica get through the Depression. Even Major League players didn’t get big salaries in those days, and in the cities tickets to the ballpark were fairly cheap. Minor league games were played


May 2017 ttimes web magazine  

Tidewater Times May 2017

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