Tag: baseball

Major League Baseball Does Something Right

A few days ago, the Yankees played the Chicago White Sox (and ended up losing a close one). What made the game unique was that it was played in the middle of a corn field at the Field of Dreams stadium Dyersville, Iowa. The field was originally constructed for the 1989 Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams, which was based on W. P. Kinsella’s novel, Shoeless Joe.

The movie has since become a classic baseball movie, and is a terrific film. The book is probably the best baseball novel ever written, one that I have gone back and read three times.

I imagine there were a lot of dads watching Kevin Costner emerge from the corn in center field with tears welling in their eyes. I admit I was one of them.

With a shortened baseball season in 2020 (thanks, COVID); with all kinds of ridiculous rule changes in order to speed up a game that by design has no clock; with the controversies stirred up by PEDs and, more recently, sticky substances in pitcher’s mitts, it was so refreshing to see Major League Baseball do something right, and hold a game in Iowa, in the midst of a corn field. It highlights the fun of the game and it’s rich history real and fictional.

Sometime before 1982, W. P. Kinsella wrote the words, “If you build it, he will come,” which appear on the very first page of the 1982 novel. Well, they built it in the late 1980s, and 39 years after the novel debuted, MLB finally came. It was wonderful to see. I only wish the Kinsella had lived long enough to see it for himself.

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A Few Hours in Cooperstown

A big part of our recent road trip vacation took us through central New York. Over a period of two days, we drove from Albany, where we visited friends, to Niagara Falls. On the way, we stopped in several places, the first of which was Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I’d been to the Hall on three previous occasions, twice as kid, and once, 15 years ago with my brother. As not just a baseball fan, but an aficionado of the history of the game, it is a great place to visit.

My family humored me on this stop. I’m not sure any of them were excited to visit the Hall of Fame.

From Albany, we tried to stay off the interstate highways, sticking to the blue highways, and driving through some beautiful farm country. It always amazes me how quickly the urban turns into the rural. There were long stretches of two lane highway where we didn’t see another vehicle in either direction. Occasionally, we were slowed down by a truck, but this was good because it forced me to slow my pace and get a better look at the country we passed through.

We arrived in Cooperstown around 11 am and after failing in our first attempt to find parking, we realized that there are parking lots on the outskirts of the town from which a trolley will take you in. We are all walkers and the free lot we parked in (the Red Lot) was only half a mile from the Hall of Fame, so rather than wait for the trolley, we walked. Currently, the Hall of Fame has timed entrances and our tickets were for 11:30 am. I figured a Monday was a good day to visit since I couldn’t imagine it would be crowded. It never had been on my previous visits. But I was wrong. The place was packed. I mean really packed.

The Hall of Fame has a scavenger hunt game for kids and so I felt like I spent much of my time helping our youngest daughter find the things she needed to complete her scavenger hunt. I tried to focus on the displays when I could, but there were so many people there, it was difficult. I felt rushed. I was also disappointed that my favorite exhibit no longer exists: this was a wall that contained baseballs from every no-hitter (and perfect game) ever thrown. I asked a museum staff member about it and he told me that they occasionally change exhibits to keep things fresh. I was sorry to see that one go.

The Littlest Miss really seemed to get into the exhibits. She was particularly taken with displays of prizes: medals, silver bats, bronzed baseballs. She also enjoyed the old baseball gloves and catchers mitts.

Throughout the museum, touchscreens were setup to poll visitors on various questions. Two stand out in my mind. The first had to do with the way the game was changing and if those changes were good or not. My response to the poll indicated that I was a “baseball purist,” which no doubt I am. Interestingly, the same was true of more than 70% of the visitors to the Hall of Fame. A second poll asked about gambling in baseball and PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs, e.g. steroids). A final question asked whether the all-time hit king, Pete Rose, deserved to be in the Hall of Fame (he was banned for life from baseball because he gambled while he was as player/manager). I think it is time he should be let into the Hall, and I said so on the poll. 79% of Hall of Fame visitors agreed with me:

results of a hall of fame poll

This is a good example of a selection bias. It seems to me that (a) people who take the time and money to visit the Hall of Fame are real fans of the game and more likely to be baseball purists than the general population; and (b) they also probably know more about the history of the game, how the game was tainted by the Black Sox scandal and steroids. Many probably came to the same conclusions that I did about Pete Rose. Comparing these poll results to similar polls of the general population would probably look a bit different.

The actually Hall for which the Hall of Fame is named is a place of reverence for baseball fans, and I looked forward to wandering its quiet spaces, reading the plaques. But even the Hall was crowded and noisy. Still, I managed to see where Derek Jeter’s plaque would be installed in about a month. Still, I found a few of the plaques I was interested in looking at, and I made due with those.

This was the first time I’d been back to the Hall of Fame since I’d written a story that took place there. It was also the first time I’d been back since reading dozens of books on the history of the game. I was looking forward to browsing the library, but it was closed to the public on the day we were there. I did manage to get myself a new hat and t-shirt from the Hall of Fame gift shop, however.

I knew that the family was humoring me for this particular stop, and I didn’t want to keep them there longer than necessary, so we left the Hall after two hours. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day in Cooperstown, and we spent some time wandering the streets, dipping into and out of various shops. The small town is like many tourist towns, with one twist: most of the shops are geared toward baseball.

looking north from the shore of Otsego lake.

I bought the only book I purchased on this road trip in a shop called Willis Monie Books. What an amazing shop. They had narrow aisles just packed to the gills with used books. I could have spent hours in there. They even had a wall of baseball books, and I could have spent an hour just browsing those titles. Rushed, as I felt, I picked out just one book, The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House by H. R. Haldeman. It was the “diaries” that attracted me to that one. It would be worth a trip back to Cooperstown just to spend a day browsing the shelves in that store.

We had ice cream, did a little more window shopping, and then departed for Auburn, New York, which is where we were staying that night. I’m glad we got to go to the Hall of Fame. I just wish it wasn’t as crowded as it was.

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My Favorite Story I’ve Written (So Far)

Occasionally I am asked what my favorite story that I’ve written is. I assume this means my favorite story that I’ve sold and has been published. This is not an easy question for a writer. It is like asking a parent, which of your children is your favorite. A common response, and one that I’ve used often, is: “The one that I’m working on now.”

Since it has been several years since I sold my last piece of fiction, and since I think of that initial period of about a dozen stories as Phase 1 of my writing career, I think can now admit to a definite favorite.

My favorite story from Phase 1 of my writing career (2007-2015) is “Gemma Barrows Comes to Cooperstown.” It is currently freely available at Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show and I urge you all to go read it, if you haven’t already done so. The story received my all-time favorite review in Tangent Online. There, reviewer Ryan Holmes wrote:

All the little strings by which Rubin weaves the characters to each other and to the game itself create a tapestry even a non-baseball fan would enjoy, but this story isn’t about baseball. It’s about loving something more than ourselves and sacrificing everything for that love. It’s about family, the distance that can separate us from our loved ones, and yes, it’s about how baseball can bring us together

This is one of those stories that wrote itself. All I had to do was sit down at the keyboard and take dictation. The science fiction is secondary–a vehicle to sell it to a science fiction magazine. It is a story that could be told without the science fictional element, something that was more and more common with my later stories.

It is the first time I ever received the cover of a magazine, and Eric Wilkerson’s artwork for the story just blew me away. It was better than I could have possibly imagined. He captured Gemma from my words and turned her into a living, breathing person that really brings her to life.

There is a reason this story is on my mind today. Back in 2005 (pre-blog days) I went on a road trip with my brother to Cooperstown. We spent a few days there, touring the National Baseball Hall of Fame. My brother played baseball in college, and then played semi-pro ball after graduating. It was such a fun trip. It was also the last time I was in Cooperstown. (I’d been there at least twice before that as a kid.) Today, I am returning to Cooperstown, this time with my family. It is the second stop on our summer road trip, and I’m probably the only one looking forward to this particular stop. Mainly, I’m looking forward to standing in the Hall, among all of the plaques of the greatest players of the last 150 years or so, and imagining Gemma’s plaque in that space.

I’ll have more to say about my visit to the Hall of Fame in the days to come, but at least now you know why “Gemma Barrows” is on my mind. If you read it, I think it’s pretty easy to see why it is my favorite story of those that I have written so far.

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The Game We Missed

The family and I spent this holiday weekend in New York. We had the true holiday weekend experience, which included barbecues, fireworks, and a hefty helping of holiday traffic. Driving up Friday morning, the normally 4 hour 10 minute drive took us just about 6 hours. It was not a wasted six hours. It gave me the opportunity to put to practice some of the techniques I’ve been learning through meditation–particularly that of equanimity. Bad traffic raises my blood pressure, but I think I dealt with it calmly nearly the whole way up. (The merge on the upper deck of the GW bridge always gets me.)

Friday evening, my brother-in-law and I had tickets to the Mets v. Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. We had good seats and it was going to be the first major league baseball game I’d been to in a few years. We hopped on Metro North, changed trains and got off at Yankee stadium with what seemed like a few thousand other Yankees fans (and a sprinkling of Mets fan) screaming at the top of their lungs. The pouring rain outside the train station did nothing to dampen their spirits. We lined up to get into the ball park, entering at Gate 2, about 20 minutes before first pitch. The tarp was still on the field, so rather than go to our seats–which were field level up the third baseline–we wandered around the stadium. We bought a couple of $17+ beers. The beers come in only one size: Giant. This is 25 ounces of beer in a can. We then found a dry place to stand, and chatted while we waited for the game to begin.

It never happened.

Just before 8:30 pm, got in line for some food, and while standing in line, the game was postponed. We had about 2 hours inside Yankee Stadium (only my second time at the new ballpark) and spent $35 on beer. We took Uber to a restaurant not far from where my sister and brother-in-law live, and we had a nice dinner. I was back at their house around 11:30pm.

The game was rescheduled as part of Sunday day/night double-headers. We opted to exchange our tickets for a game later in the season. I think we made a good choice. While we sat out on my sister’s deck eating a great Independence Day barbecue, and while our kids played tag (or possible, “the floor is lava”) all around the yard, the Yankees got battered 10-5 by Mets, and Chappy blew another save.

It felt a little strange being back in Yankee stadium. I still think of it as the new stadium. It is not the stadium I remember from my youth, where you could look to the outfield and see the top of the Bronx court house. They players I know are all gone. Baseball, for all of its player longevity, is still a fleeting game, a game of youth, and those still clinging to their youth. I couldn’t even say that I felt the ghosts of former Yankees wandering the great causeways among the tens of thousands of fans. Those ghosts are anchored to a different piece of land.

No, the game we missed–the game I missed, always seems to be the one that is already long over, the one I can recreate in my mind just by looking at a messy, food-stained scorecard, with the sound of the imagined crowd like the sound of the ocean in seashell, ringing in my ears.

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Baseball and the American Attention Span

The powers that be are tinkering with baseball again. In the minor leagues, new rules are being testing including:

  • Increasing the size of the infield bases.
  • Limiting the number of pick-off attempts a pitcher can make.
  • Requiring infielders to stay in the infield and always have two on each side.
  • Introducing robotic umpires for calling balls and strikes.

Each of these changes is being made with the explicit goal of speeding up the pace of the game.

Apparently, the game is too slow for the average fan and not fast enough to encourage new fans to take to the game. As my brother pointed out to me, this has impacts that go all the way down to the five year-old who wants to play a sport. They are selecting sports other than baseball because of the slow pace of play.

I don’t want to be in the position of grumpy old man, complaining about how terrible all of these changes are because they mess with what is otherwise what I consider to be a perfect game in terms of the mechanics of play. I understand that, like all things, baseball has to evolve. That has been part of its history, from the dead-ball era, into more lively play, there have been changes that have happened that fundamentally change the game in different ways. Raising or lowering of the pitching mound; how the ball is designed; artificial turf; night games; designated hitter rules.

Perhaps the worst change baseball has had to endure, until was, was the influence of money in the game, but the reserve clause made that inevitable.

Today, money is a big driver, but something else, more insidious is lurking in the background of all of these changes: the shortening of American’s attention spans. Why else would there be such pressure to change if not for the need to keep people watching the game? And why are people not watching as much? Because they find the game boring?

Baseball is anything but a boring game. It is like a ballet and a game of chess wrapped into one. The core set of rules allow room for the game play to evolve. Hitters learn to pull the ball, and fielders learn to counter that with a shift. Hitters get much better at waiting for their pitch, and more pitchers are used during a game to come at batters with more consistent accuracy and speed. Watching the game unfold is like watching a work of art come together. Tweaking the rules unbalance this and have the risk of making the game less elegant than it is today.

People didn’t always complain about the slow play of baseball. It is a fairly recent phenomenon, one that seems to parallel our decreasing attention spans. It seems to me that the Internet has some responsibility here. Our interactions online, the way information, and products are delivered almost instantly have altered our perceptions of what is slow-paced and what is fast-paces.

When looking at the stats of baseball, you see that game length has crept up by minutes. In 2020, the average length of a baseball game was 3 hours 7 minutes. In 2010, it was 2 hours 54 minutes. That means the length of a game went up by 13 minutes over a ten year period. Are people really complaining about an extra 13 average increase over the last 10 years?

In 1993, the year before the Internet really opened up to people, the average length of a baseball game was also 2:54. Ten years before that it was 2:40.

The length of a baseball game really hasn’t changed much, but how our attention has. This is why most movies and many TV shows today require lots of explosions. It is why they begin with a dramatic event and then flash the words “24 hours earlier…” on the screen. Like baseball, they are looking for ways to hold on to our ever diminishing attention.

It is a shame, really. Baseball is a game for lazy summer afternoon. The pace is ideal for radio. It is a game that is fun to watch, but often even better to imagine, listening to voices like Vin Scully or Mel Allen or Harry Caray paint a picture of the game in your mind. It is not supposed to be a fast-paced game, although it can be when the right conditions take place.

My fear is not so much that the rule changes will throw the game off balance. Baseball has always found ways of evolving its play to changing rules. No, my fear is that our attention spans are continuing to decrease and that next year, a pace of say, 2 hours 50 minutes will seem to slow. Then 2:30 minutes, then 2 hours. Where does it end? Maybe the right answer is not to broadcast baseball on television at all, but instead, to go back to radio, and listen to a new generation of voices paint pictures of the game in our minds.

Guest Post: Remembering Tommy Lasorda’s World Championship Mouth by Jason Ashlock

When I saw that Tommy Lasorda had died, I knew I had to write something about him. He was an icon of the game for 70+ years, and especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers. I lived in L.A. for nearly 20 years, but as a lifelong Yankees fan, I didn’t feel I had the chops to write about Lasorda. Fortunately, I know someone who does. Jason Ashlock has a great Tommy Lasorda story to tell, and he tells it below in a way that epitomizes Lasorda. In addition to being my brother-in-law, Jason is a creative director at big ad agency. You’ve probably seen his commercials before (this is one of my favorites), but unfortunately, commercials don’t run credits. I’m delighted that Jason agreed to my request to write something here about Tommy Lasorda. Enjoy! –Jamie


When the news hit that Tommy Lasorda had died, the very first thing that came to mind was, “Fucking Tommy Lasorda.” And I mean that in the most loving way possible, because as a kid I loved the Dodgers. I loved Tommy Lasorda. I loved everything about his no bullshit f-bomb-laced approach to the game. 

Tommy Lasorda was the living embodiment of profanity. His expletive laced exploits are well documented. But, I like to think that his greatest set of swear words were directed at me. That’s right. I got cursed out by Tommy Lasorda. I was twelve years old at the time. 

In the early 1990’s, every year for my birthday my Dad would reserve the first two rows behind Dodger dugout. My Dad worked for Unocal 76 and those were the corporate seats. Every Dodger fan knows the orange 76 logo above the scoreboard—a staple of Dodger stadium since its inaugural season in 1962. 

But the first two rows behind Dodger dugout! Those were amazing seats. So for my birthday I’d invite a group of friends and we’d go early for BP and get autographs. Hershiser. Scioscia. Piazza. Strawberry. Pedro Martinez. Brett Butler. So many great players. 

During the game we’d buy Cracker Jacks, malted ice cream and giant soft drinks. We’d place it all on top of the concrete Dodger dugout during the game. This was before cupholder technology became ubiquitous in baseball stadiums. 

One year, some random lady bumped into one of my friends and knocked over one of those giant soft drinks. Imagine, 50 ounces of sticky soda pouring down into the dugout. It didn’t take long. 

Out pops Tommy Lasorda. He’s full-on red in the face. His cheeks are vibrating. And he singles me out. “What the fuck are you doing, kid. My fucking players are covered with your fucking soda pop. Get that shit out here. Fuck you.” It’s still one of my most vivid and enjoyable memories. I loved every moment of it. 

Fuck you back, Tommy Lasorda. You will be missed.

The New Baseball Season

Major League Baseball should do everyone a favor and forgo the 2020 season. I say this as a lifelong baseball fan, a former player (as a kid), and a student of the history of the sport. There are three reasons why baseball should take a deep breath (wearing a mask, of course) and forfeit the season. There’s only one reason that they won’t.

Let’s start with why they should forgo the season:

  1. The baseball season is a marathon, which is part of the magic of the game. Whether its the current 162 games played in regular season, or the 154 games played in an earlier era, it is still a long road to the playoffs. Each game is itself a marathon, being played without a clock, and 162 of those clockless games are packed into 6 month regular season. The entire dynamic of the game is centered on this stable arrangement, like planets orbiting a star at the center of a solar system. Change those dynamics and chaos ensues. Planets fall inward to crash into the star, while other are flung out of the system entirely. We’ll see this in a 60 game season:
    • A 10 game win or loss streak can have a disproportional effect on the outcome of a season for a team.
    • Batting records will be skewed by the shortened season. Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak went 56 games, which is 4 games shy of the entire new season.
    • Being hot and being in a slump take on new perspectives in a grossly shortened season. With “hot” hitters, we could conceivably see much higher batting averages from we are used to. It’s even conceivable that for a period of 60 games, a batter could hit .400. The opposite is true of batters in a slump.
    • If your teams wins the series in a 60 game season, is that something to celebrate? Or, like Houston’s dubious win a few years ago, it is something to be humiliated by?
  2. The entire 2020 record book will be one big asterisk. Meanwhile, I can’t imagine anyway really believes that the stats produced in a 60-game season will have any meaning or value in a record book where the average season length over 120 or so is between 154 and 162 games. If a player does finish the season at or about .400 in hitting, does that show up without a note in the almanacs? Is such a feat deserving of an batting title? Does it even make sense to award batting titles, Cy Young awards, Golden Gloves and the like in a 60 game season? With nearly every stat and achievement from a 60 game season questionable when compared with a season that has 2.7 times as many games, I can’t see the value of the record book for 2020. I imagine that sabermetricians will find ways of attempting to compare apples to apples, the way they do with “field effects” and different era comparisons, but still, really?
  3. The draw of the season will be about the novelty not the game itself. I suspect there will be a fair amount of interest in the games played in 2020, but not for the games themselves, but the novelty of the situation. Managers can’t bump umpires–you have to keep your 6 feet of separation; batters hit by a pitch can’t charge the mound. But will they? The novelty of the situation will keep us watching more than the games themselves, which is a shame. Baseball is an elegant performance to watch, but we’ll miss the performance in lieu of the theater in which it will be played.

The reason that baseball won’t cancel the 2020 season? Come on, you already know the answer: money.

The real question for me is: will I watch any of the games? I don’t know. Late in the winter, I get this eager feeling in my belly. Spring is just around the corner, and I can smell baseball in the air. The first games of the season, when the air is often still chilled, are fun to watch. The players are easing back into things. Any one game doesn’t matter that much at that point. Now, the spring is behind us, and the players will start playing in the heat of summer. Each game will matter more than in a regular season. Indeed, each game will matter 2.7 times more than normal, and that will put pressure on the players and change the way they perform.

I suppose the real winner in all of this is the Houston Astros. Remember what happened in the offseason after Houston was caught cheating in the World Series? I can imagine Houston players were looking forward to road games, especially road games in Los Angeles. What they needed was a major distraction–and that is exactly what they got. What pitcher is going to make his displeasure known by throwing inside on an Astros batter, when getting tossed from a game means sacrificing 1 of the 10 or 11 starts you’ll get this season–assuming your aren’t suspended for hitting the batter?

R.I.P. Jim Bouton

I read in the Washington Post this morning that Jim Bouton had died at age 80. He pitched for the Yankees in the 1960s, but was perhaps most famous for his groundbreaking book, Ball Four. It is a fantastic look inside baseball in the late 1960s. If you are a fan of the game and haven’t read the book, you should. I think it is #3 on Sport Illustrated list of best sports books of all time.

My kids knew of Jim Bouton as well. As I took them to camp this morning, I mentioned that he had died. The Little Miss said, “Who is Jim Bouton?” and the Little Man replied almost at once. “He’s the inventor of Big League Chew.”

In an eerie coincidence, last night, I was reading For the Love of the Game, Bud Selig’s new memoir about his life in baseball, and there was some mention of Bouton and his book. Then I saw his name and face in the paper this morning.

Goodbye, Yogi

There is a new player joining Shoeless Joe on the field of dreams tonight. I was saddened to learn of Yogi Berra’s passing when I woke up this morning. He is one of those few people that I feel like I’ve been aware of my whole life. I feel almost as if I was born knowing the name Yogi Berra. I can recall seeing him in commercials in the 1970s. He seemed ubiquitous in baseball, a Hall-of-Famer who clearly loved the game.

A lot has been written about Number 8 today. They write about his famous wit, his 20 year career, and 10 World Championships, but I think Derek Jeter captured the most important element of who Yogi Berra was:

He will always be remembered for his success on the field, but I believe his finest quality was how he treated everyone with sincerity and kindness.

My grandparents watched Yogi Berra play baseball. My parents watched him. Generations of fans learned to love the game by watching Yogi and seeing how much he loved it.

Quickly break in a new baseball glove [video]

I have been lax in my efforts to break in the Little Man’s baseball glove, and that has made things more difficult on the field for him than they should be. So this weekend, I decided I would figure out the right way to do it quickly. A Google search led me to the Glove Guru, and a video where he shows the way the pros break in gloves. It uses nothing more than hot water, and a hammer.

I tried this on the Little Man’s glove yesterday morning using a regular hammer in place of the special tool that the Glove Guru used (the hammer was dull so it wouldn’t tear the leather) and after about 10 minutes, the Little Man could easily open and close the glove–something he was unable to do before I started.

Another win for YouTube videos!

The Thrill of the Cracker Jacks

Nats Stadium

On Saturday, I took the Little Man to an exhibition game between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals. We took the Metro over to Nationals Park, and found our way to our seats, where my friend, and fellow writer Michael J. Sullivan was waiting for us. I think that Michael told me this was the third baseball game he’d ever attended. As it happens, it was the Little Man’s third game, too. He attended a Nationals game when he was a little baby. Then, when he’d just turned two years old, he attended a minor league game up in Troy, NY, between the Tri-City Valley Cats and the Vermont Lake Monsters. But the game on Saturday is likely to be the first that he remembers as he gets older, if for no other reason than he plays Little League baseball, and has more of a sense of the game than he did when he was two.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the game for the Little Man was the thought of getting Cracker Jacks. He knew about Cracker Jacks from the song, of course, and also because Caillou has them in an episode of that cartoon. But the Little Man had never had them before. So when we arrived at the stadium the very first thing that we did, even before going to our seats, was seek out Cracker Jacks. Eventually, we located a bag (they are no longer sold in boxes, at least not at Nationals Park) of Cracker Jacks. We added to this, two hot dogs, a small soda, and a beer. Then we sought out our seats. We were high up, but had a good view of the playing field, which is what I wanted so that I could explains things about the game to the Little Man. We both wore our Yankees hats, and while we sat among many Nationals fans, there were plenty of Yankees fans to be seen around the park.

The Little Man picked up the rhythm of the game quickly, and even learned to follow the scoreboard for balls, strikes, and outs. When the Nationals would make a good play on the Yankees, he’d say, “Aw, man!” When the Yankees made a good play, he became wildly excited. He saw his first home run that game, and that brought the score to 3-2 (the Yanks had been trailing.)

When A-Rod came to the plate, and the stadium booed, the Little Man wondered why. I explained that A-Rod had cheated, and had not been allowed to play baseball for a year, and that a lot of people (myself included) were upset that he cheated.

We stayed for five full innings before the Little Man got too restless and wanted to head home. We left with the Nationals leading 3-2, and that means that we missed the Yankees comeback home run in the 8th inning. But it was still fun. I mean a lot of fun. At one point, entirely on his own volition the Little Man turned to me and said, “Thanks for bringing me to the game, Daddy.” Really, it was perfect.

It made me wonder who really had more fun, him, for me, watching him. I thought about my Dad taking me to baseball games when I was very young, and had a sudden realization that it must have been fun for him in the same way that it was fun for me on Saturday. The Little Man got to see the game, and got to eat a bag of Cracker Jacks, and I got to sit there and watch him do it. I imagine we will be doing it again, before long.

Great Baseball Writing

I recently finished reading Sports Illustrated collection Great Baseball Writing, which gathers about 60 articles from over the last 60 years, all on baseball. It was a fantastic book, and I loved every minute of it. Of course, with nearly 60 articles, some stand out more than others. Here are a list of my favorites, along with the header description included with each article.

“Spring Has Sprung” by Frank Deford (April 10, 1978)

It’s Opening Day, so buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack, remember to hold the label up, and please, please tell me Who’s on First.

“The Ballad of Joe Moock” by Steve Rushin (June 29, 1998)

Sailors have the Bermuda Triangle; the Mets have third base. When the author composed this epic tribute, the New Yorkers had, in 36 years, employed 112 different men at the hot corner, none of them all that hot.

“The Transistor Kid” by Robert Creamer (May 4, 1964)

When Vin Scully came to Los Angeles with the transplanted Brooklyn Dodgers, he was a stranger in alien corn. But he soon became as much a part of Southern California as the freeways.

“The Bird Fell to Earth” by Gary Smith (April 7, 1986)

For one fairy-tale year, Mark Fidrych was king of baseball, but the reign ended far too soon.

“The Left Arm of God” by Tom Verducci (July 12, 1999)

He was a consummate artist on the mound, the most dominant player of his time, yet he shunned fame and always put the team above self. On the field or off, Sandy Koufax was pitcher perfect.

“At the End of the Curse, a Blessing” by Tom Verducci (December 6, 2004)

The 2004 Boston Red Sox staged the most improbable comeback in baseball history and liberated their long-suffering nation of fans.

“Benching of a Legend” by Roger Kahn (September 12, 1960)

The prideful struggle of an aging Stan Musial to prolong his career–a painful experience for everyone involved–was poignantly recounted by one of the most astute observers of the game.

“Still a Grand Old Game” by Roger Kahn (August 16-30, 1976)

Touring the baseball world, the author of The Boys of Summer found that the national pastime retained all of its charms, whether played in suburbia, the Ozarks or at Chavez Ravine.

“It’s Gone! Goodbye!” by Tom Verducci (September 22, 2008)

Before a wrecking ball took its cuts at old Yankee Stadium, the walls of this American monument spoke and shared a few final secrets

I really enjoyed all of the long pieces, but these 9 were outstanding. So much so, that I am now a subscriber to Sports Illustrated. In a bit of serendipity, my niece was raising money for her girl scout troop selling magazine subscription. Sports Illustrated was one of them. So: two birds, one stone.