It’s often hard to stop and smell the green grass on the baseball field. We’re too busy anguishing over each and every game trying to will our favorite team to win. How can baseball ever be fun when fans breathe deep and say “Thank God they won today” after a victory? Sometimes we all spend a little too much time trying to be the manager, or in many cases the general manager of the team, instead of enjoying the games. With scientific sabermetrics and whatever the Houston Astros are doing trying to “revolutionize baseball” we lose the morality within the sport.
Without sentimentality in baseball, it becomes cold and sterile. It ceases to be the “Little Boy’s Game” once the little boy can’t understand it. Baseball is about memories and laughter and magic. It’s about a father tossing a ball to his young son and watching the look on the boy’s face when he’s finally able to make the throw to dad’s glove on the fly. Baseball is supposed to be fun and in today’s game, we seem to forget that. So in this weekly column we’ll try to bring back the heart and soul of this great sport by setting aside rumors and statistics, and remembering what baseball is all about. So without further hesitation, I present the first installment of “The Way It Was, And The Way It Should Still Be.
In today’s society, everyone’s focus is on what’s new. The new phone, the new car, the new TV that you just have to buy now. “But… it has a random and unnecessary curve in it! I need it.” Forget that! There comes a time where we need to sit back and remember the past. There is no better example of this than the old mockery of “Yankees fans are always living in the past.” Well when exactly did that become frowned upon in baseball? Unlike any other sport in America, baseball history is present in every single game. History is such a big part in baseball that it coincides with world history. Baseball was played during the Civil War, World War I, World War II and so on and so forth. So why exactly are Yankees fans just supposed to ignore their history? A history such as the Yankees’, that is unmatched by any other team in professional sports, should be celebrated, not silenced. The 2013 season is the past. Are Red Sox fans supposed to forget that they won the World Series? The Cincinnati Reds were the first professional franchise in baseball history. Should we just not mention that fact because it happened over a century ago? Hell, last night’s game was in the past! Should fans of any team forget that game ever happened? The problem is that everyone is moving so quick that no one seems to want to remember the people who made the sport great.
If we forget Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth or Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle, then why be a baseball fan at all? “Well they’re old and stuff and I didn’t follow them on Twitter so…” No! If we forget the history of the game, then we forget what makes it special and then it is only a game. Baseball is more than a game. Candy Land is a game! Baseball is a culture and like any culture, it has a rich and outstanding history. What’s new in baseball? Where’s the new stuff? The new stuff is math! It’s cold and hard and made of aluminum and copper wire! The new stuff isn’t human! Where’s the old stuff? The old stuff was warm and comfortable! Old baseball stars like King Kelly and Babe Ruth were drunks who partied all day and night and enjoyed every minute of their lives! They weren’t perfect by any means. They were fat and wild. They were manly and rough, angry, thickheaded and talented. They were American. They were human… imperfect and beautiful at the same time. If we shove aside what they gave baseball, than we lose not only a significant period in baseball but in America.
We cannot forget baseball history. That is not a plea, it is a fact. Players are constantly compared with those who graced the field before them. Don’t tell me Mike Tout is an all-time great, when his career has only just begun. If you want to see an all-time great, open up that new laptop of yours and look up Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays. Look up Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson, and maybe even Grover Cleveland Alexander. Who is Billy Beane? “Oh well he changed baseball.” Why change it? Was it broken? It seems like sabermetrics have played a part in downplaying the careers of some of the best who have ever played the game. “Well Honus Wagner is considered the greatest shortstop of all-time, but advanced analytic equations favor the ability of current Brave Andrelton Simmons.” What? I actually heard a sabermetric analyst make this point on TV. How can anyone say that? We cannot disregard the contributions of these players because they didn’t have a computer and a little too much time on their hands. That’s like discrediting Leonardo da Vinci because he didn’t do his work with pretty, multicolored pens.
Now, I’m going to end this rant… I mean column, by saying that I am a fan. Not just of the Yankees, but of baseball and it’s history. I was once told that the only reason I am a Yankees’ fan is because they won 27 World Series and because I was only alive for 5 of them I’m not a real fan. First off, I’m a Yankees fan, because they’re the greatest team in professional sports, and I grew up watching the games with my dad who is a Yankees’ fan. Yes, all of the Yankees World Series championships were won in the past, but unless you have a different schedule than me, so did every other team’s championships. The fact that I, a Yankees’ fan, bring up my team’s history doesn’t make me any less of a fan. In fact, it makes me a real, pure-blooded baseball fan. Do not close the book on the past, because with it, we have no present, and therefore no future.