Monday, July 03, 2006

The Greatest Game Ever Played

As I sit here on this fine Pittsburgh evening watching the Pirates I am reminded of why I love baseball. No matter how poorly a team plays, no matter how bad a team is, any team can win any game. The Buccos are leading the New York Mets 10-1 in the top of the eigth following back to back home runs by Ronny Paulino and Nate McLouth.

I can barely remember the Pirates of 1992. Jeff King was my favorite player as a child, I think mainly because in my childish mind he was my prototype of a ballplayer: big hunk of chew, interesting facial hair, he just looked like he should play baseball. That was 14 years ago. 14 seasons of losing baseball, but I am an addict. Like a junkie looking for the next fix. I find myself stopping at little league parks to watch a group of 12 year olds play a sloppy version of America's favorite pastime.

I long for the days of ball I never knew. I dream of spending time in the corn with the colorful characters the game has produced, the heroes, the goats, the bad guys, the good guys, the stories. Old Hoss Radbourn, Napolean Lajoie, Jimmie Foxx, Teddy Ballgame, Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax, Eddie Ciccotte Juan Marichal, Luis Tiant, Reggie Jackson, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Hank Aaron, the Say Hey Kid, Pete Rose. All the joy, the shame, the glory, the success, the pain, the moustaches, the history of the game is our history. America is baseball. It is a game of leisure, with stretchs, stolen bags, moonshots, cans of corn, frozen ropes, heaters and yackers, worm burners, sacrifices, walk-offs, and no matter what happens there is always a winner and a loser.

Until next game.

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