I've been a baseball fan for my entire life. I've been to more than 400 games in my life and have seen this sport through good, bad, happy, and sad (I did boycott for 1 season after the last players strike). Last night, the game between the New Yankees and Boston Red Sox enters into one of the top 10 baseball games I have ever seen.
The superhero flying through the air in this photograph is Derek Jeter, demonstrating something that has become rare in professional sports today. There of plenty of gifted athletes, there are many great plays, there are many students of the game, but there is distinctly something missing from sports as a whole. I know I am supposed to follow that up with what I think is missing, but I am not sure; at least not specifically.
What I do know, is that back in the 70's (the later ones), I'd take the subway from Brooklyn to Yankee Stadium, plop down a whole buck and a half (for you really young folks, that's a dollar and fifty cents) for a seat in the bleachers to watch my heroes, grab a hot dog, bum a sip of my buddy's soda, then hightail it back on the D train back to Brooklyn all for about five big ones (really, ONES). The people were amazing, the players friendly (they'd actually hang out to sign autographs after batting practice), and the experience, wholesome and rewarding.
Today, with all of the corporate sponsorship, the game is often played in venues designed to sell products and pay for big contracts to support a wealth of players who refuse to play because their thumb is sore or their pride is hurt. I wanna see this sport played with the same hunger and desire of a little leaguer, willing to get dirty and hustle and play the game of baseball. Sports has always been a business, but at some point, the business end became exceedingly more important that the sport.
Last night, over the course of four hours and twenty minutes, thirty-eight players, two managers, 55,265 fans, and two broadcasters brought back a little bit of yesterday. With the exception of the single most self-centered, egotistical, overrated, just plain idiot, Pedro Martinez, this amazing group of people demonstrated sportsmanship, fanaticism, and professionalism that made me proud of this game I love so very much. (Now all we need is to get rid of inter-league play, bring the DH to the National League, and make the All-Star game an All-Star game.)
Until next time, May God Bless You All!