Saturday, November 3, 2007

Is That It?

Could there be a less fulfilling World Series than the one just concluded by Boston and Colorado? There have been Delmarva Shorebirds-Hickory Crawdads series with more excitement. [These are Single A minor league affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburg Pirates respectively.]

Is it the fact that I’m getting older or has baseball--all professional sports for that matter—lost its magic?

I have been a lifelong baseball fan. I remember when people anxiously anticipated the outcome of World Series games. Long before there were sports bars, you could go into many a local business and the World Series would be on the radio by the cash register. People talked about the games in the barber shops, around the water cooler at work, and in the coffee shops.

How different it is today. Quick, without looking it up, who was the winning pitcher of the deciding game of this year’s World Series?

The biggest baseball news of this Fall has been from the team which didn’t make it out of the first round of the playoffs, the New York Yankees. The best player in baseball, Alex Rodriquez, opted out of his contract to play anywhere else but for the Yankees. The manager who won four World Series’ championships, Joe Torre, was effectively shown the door and told to not let it hit him in the butt on the way out.

[By the way, Joe is not the only Yankee manager to which such a thing has happened. Charles Dillon Stengel, known to everyone as “Casey” and “The Old Professor, had an even more successful career and a more ignoble departure as Yankee manager. Casey like Torre managed the Yankees for 12 seasons. During that span they played in 10 World Series and won 7 of them. His clubs included Joe Dimagio, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford. Yet after losing the 1960 World Series in 7 games to the Pittsburg Pirates because of the late inning heroics of Bill Mazeraski, Stengel was dismissed being told by management that he was too old to manage.]

Frankly, baseball and all sports have become overexposed. We know the most intimate details about the players which as a result makes them seem smaller somehow. Cal Ripken may be the last baseball hero. We have sports saturation as a result of cable networks like ESPN which have an insatiable appetite for events to hype and fill their 24/7/365 schedules.

By the time the championship is finally decided, we are weary of it all and just anxious for it to be over. As a result, the World Series is anticlimactic. By the time it concludes, we really don’t care. We lifelong baseball fans ask ourselves “Is that it?”

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