Girls can be legitimate baseball fans – and not just butt watchers

Archive for March, 2015

Lonely Island

There is really no reason for me to be a baseball fan. So many of us “inherit” our love of this wonderful game from older generations – we spend afternoons with Dad or Grandpa watching a game, and we begin to understand it, and have our own favorite team and favorite players. It’s one of my favorite things about this sport – seeing older generations teach younger generations how the game was “in their day.”

Each generation witnesses their own moment in baseball history that will never be seen by a future generation. When our kids or grandkids are old enough to appreciate baseball, it will be a different game from what we experienced, and from what our parents and grandparents experienced before us. When legendary players are gone and historic games are over, there is nothing left but the stories. You’ll hear about it on TV or in books, but it’s all the more special and real if you know someone who saw it with their very own eyes.

I never had this early exposure to professional baseball – my love for the game developed much more randomly (not that I appreciate it any less). Growing up outside of Cleveland, the only baseball I was exposed to were the Indians – and in my youngest days, they were the laughingstock of professional baseball. Still, there was no talk about “the good old days” – and there were many good times in the franchise before the abysmal 1960’s through early 90’s. I never heard my Grampa talk about Bob Feller, or the World Series of 1948 or 1954, and I never heard my dad talk about Cleveland’s first Cy Young Award winner (Gaylord Perry, 1972) – or wonder “what if” George Steinbrenner had successfully bought the Indians when he tried to in 1972 (his offer was rejected; he went on to buy the Yankees and the rest is history). If anyone in my family was paying attention to what the Indians were doing, it wasn’t interesting or important enough for anyone to talk about.

The earliest baseball memory I have is knowing my oldest cousin (11 years older than me) played baseball, and that he once went to an Indians game and met Bobby Bonds, who was on the team that year (1979). Even though I did not appreciate the significance of that story for many years and my cousin and I have not been in contact for most of our lives, it laid the groundwork for what was to come.

I don’t remember ever formally learning about baseball, and at the same time I can’t remember a time when I didn’t understand the game. For many years in school, I played softball. When my mom referred to it as “baseball,” I would respond with a speech about the differences in the two games, and how baseball was better. (Why did girls have to play softball? Why couldn’t we throw overhand and play real baseball?)

If I hadn’t seen my cousin so excited for baseball, I may have never developed an interest in the game or understood it like I do. He never sat down and talked baseball with me, so I did not learn anything from him directly, but it must have been just enough to spark my interest.

The Indians turned things around in the 1990’s after a 30 year slump. By 1995, Cleveland was back in the World Series, and my heart broke with every other Clevelander when we lost to the Atlanta Braves. In 1997 I attentively watched Cleveland host the All Star Game at the new Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field). My best friend was at the game and told me to watch at home in case she was on TV. Of course she wasn’t, but from that night on I was hooked. For the rest of the 1997 season and all of the 1998 season, I watched every single Indians game I could. From that developed a general appreciation of the game, and of it’s players, and of three particular teams.

Most of the time, being a baseball fan feels like being on a lonely island: there was no one here before me to share stories of the great games and players they saw in their day. There’s only me and what I’ve witnessed in baseball history during my lifetime. I don’t have children yet, but I look forward to someday sharing my passion for baseball and all the stories I have. Until then, I get my stories where I can: A cousin who met Bobby Bonds. A friend who met Cal Ripken, Jr. A patient who played catch with Babe Ruth as a child (true story).

And if you’re wondering about my cousin and I, we’ll never be close – but I did reach out to him, the first contact we’ve had in almost a year and a half:

I was just thinking about how I became a baseball fan since no one in my immediate family is. I realized that if I hadn’t seen you into baseball when I was a kid, I might have never gotten interested in it myself. I know that is *really* random, but I guess I just wanted to say thanks…30 years later! lol

Thanks Jess! That means a lot!

25 Suggestions to the New York Post

Just in case you haven’t heard, Wednesday was Alex Rodriguez’s first game after his year long suspension. And if you’ve really been living under a rock, you may not have heard that he’s approaching 40 years old, has two surgically repaired hips and hasn’t played baseball in 17 months.

The disadvantage to writing, instead of speaking, is that you cannot hear the sarcasm.

If you’ve ever read just about anything I’ve ever written, you know that I am – however stupidly – an Alex Rodriguez fan. I’m not simply cheering for the underdog or hoping for an epic comeback; he has literally been my favorite player since I started watching baseball in 1997. Even through through embarrassments, and the scandals, and the PED usage.

Naturally, the cover of the New York Post on Thursday pissed me off – so much so that I’m writing about it days later.

Several times I tried to write about the stupidity of this cover. Basically…this is the best they can do? I’ve heard just about ever A-Rod joke out there (some I even find funny) but they have to just beat a dead horse and mention the PED use with an asterisk? They need new writers to come up with something that’s at least creative.

Rather than just writing a pro-Rodriguez post, and since the New York Post clearly needs some help coming up with newsworthy stories (a former MVP returning to baseball actually isn’t the only thing happening in Florida right now!), I decided to take a more creative approach.

Here are 25 things the New York Post could write about instead –

  1. Tyler Austin’s homerun
  2. Greg Bird’s homerun
  3. Jake Cave’s homerun
  4. Ramon Flores’ homerun
  5. Aaron Judge’s homerun
  6. None of the major league power hitters have hit a homerun
  7. Aaron Judge leads the team with 4 walks (several others have 1 or 2 walks). Aparently hitting the strike zone on a 6’7” player is difficult.
  8. Didi Gregorius’ amazing defensive plays at shortstop
  9. Derek Jeter is still retired; excitement for Didi won’t discredit Jeter’s career
  10. Cashman wants to retire the captaincy
  11. If we had to choose a captain today, who would it be? (Brett Gardner)
  12. Beltran isn’t concerned about his health, so why should we be?
  13. Pinstripes make Andrew Miller look even taller
  14. Unsurprisingly, Stephen Drew made an error in his first game
  15. Luis Severino pitched to Ryan Howard like a champ
  16. Did Nathan Eovaldi throw anything under 95mph?
  17. The Yankees have no farm system” (please refer to points 1-7)
  18. Who will be the closer?!
  19. Despite watching every pitch like a hawk, Tanaka’s arm has not fallen apart
  20. What’s Jeffery Maier up to these days?
  21. Teixeira’s diet
  22. Searching for left handed relievers? We have them all.
  23. CC weighs in at 305lbs and Yankee fans rejoice
  24. How do you pronounce Jagielo? Higashioka?
  25. When will George Costanza’s 0 be retired to Monument Park?

Not that I’m telling the New York Post how to do their job, but any of these topics would be both more interesting than repeatedly bashing Alex Rodriguez’s past mistakes, and will not further contribute to the A-Rod fatigue most Yankee fans are currently experiencing.