brewers baseball and things

and it’s still a game

17 Comments

andreltonAndrelton Simmons ranges to his right, bows on one knee, backhands a sharp grounder, and from a squatting position throws an off-balance 98 mph strike to Freddie Freeman at first base. Simmons is 24-years young and plays shortstop for the Atlanta Braves.

It’s easy to imagine him flashing that same grace one hundred years ago as he does today. Memories and  imagination are very kind. They provide instant access.

A common complaint about today’s game is that it takes too long to complete one. In the 1940’s, games finished in just under two hours. By the 60’s that number ballooned to 2:38 and today it’s closer to three hours. There are some good suggestions of how to shorten games, but the only one I can digest is minimizing advertisements between innings.

I enjoy manager’s changing pitchers and batters working a count, fouling off pitches and demonstrating discipline. I cherish the psyche out games; the Mike Hargrove human rain delays and Pete Vukovich herky-jerky around the mound. I guess I have nothing better to do and wouldn’t mind games lasting four hours. I wouldn’t mind at all.

I need baseball like I needed my grandfather. He grew up in Pittsburgh and rooted for the Pirates in the early 1900’s and many years later escorted me to Bradenton, Florida to see Barry Bonds and further south to Port Charlotte to see Toby Harrah. He appreciated the graceful swan that Bonds was and the charismatic personality of Harrah.

ted_williams_battingKGCincy

Grandpa also spoke about Ted William’s swing with the same gushy enthusiasm as he did Ken Griffey Jr.; slow and easy; almost perfect.

Grandpa watched the Dead ball era give way to a live one. He watched neighborhoods and  stadiums get destroyed. He experienced ugly financial realities, astro turf, domes, free agency.

And none of that cooled his enthusiasm. He loved the game on the diamond where it hadn’t really changed. Yeh, the mounds were lowered in 1969. The American League only DH was added in 1973. The spit ball was supposedly banned and so on. But the bases were still 90 feet apart. There were still three outs to an inning, four balls for a walk and a late inning home run still inspired goose bumps. They still do.

But before my grandpa, before Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb….now that was different; the days of Cap Anson and King Kelly, the Philadelphia Quakers and Cleveland Spiders. But names aside, it was the rules. Nine balls for a walk. Then eight, six, five and finally four in 1879. Pitchers throwing underhand or side arm until 1884 when the modern overhand motion was no longer banned.

And wait a second … what’s that sound? Just over there.. hidden in the tall grass. Men are recreating an old game.2014 VBBA Conference Logo

The Vintage Baseball Association-VBBA plays by 19th century rules and that includes “equipment, uniforms, field specifications, customs, practices, language, and behavioral norms of the period.”

Sounds like a Renaissance Fair situation; part theatrical, part baseball. Good ol’ fun playing a game like it was when we were kids; wasting away entire days and still wanting more, so we pretended the score was tied and slipped past the sunset into extra innings.

That desire to play one more inning, to drink one more beer at bar time has shaped my life as a baseball fan.

Advertisements

Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

17 thoughts on “and it’s still a game

  1. Nice article, Steve.

    I could play forever, too. Stickball, baseball, whatever.

    Glen

  2. By the way, do you know WHY they changed the amount of balls for a base-on-balls?

    Well, YOU try walking with nine balls, and you’ll know why! (It’s not so easy walking with four, either.)

    Glen

  3. Reblogged this on The On Deck Circle and commented:
    Fantastic post by Steven Myers.

  4. Normal service will be resumed when I’ve recovered from the shock of Graeme Swann retiring. Sorry, it’s just one of those things.

    • Would his sudden retirement have anything to do with the recent England fiasco in the test series?

      • I should say it has everything to do with that. He is/was the best ‘1st Class’ spinner in the world, and until this series could tear apart a batting order. The current Australian team – not their best by far – have simply buckled down and attacked his bowling, dancing out and thumping his deliveries for fours and sixes. Also, they took note of his batting style and bowled him stuff he couldn’t hit. His reason/excuse for going is that he is no longer effective and wants to go before he is dropped.

        Two possible replacements are on their way to Australia. No prizes for guessing what the Aussies’ tactics against either of them are going to be. England also has its Sikh spinner Monty Panesar there and might chose to use him. Whoever gets to play on the 26th, I’ll bet the Aussies will just attack.

      • The Aussies maybe executed some top notch advanced scouting by exposing the best 1st class spinner’s weaknesses. Was anyone aware of the apparent holes in his game? Are fans taking him to be a quitter? or as someone who knew when it was time to call it a day?

      • No scouting needed, it was a simple matter of audacity on their part, and one has to admire it. As for the fans, they seem to be divided.

      • is the big star missing some guts?

      • Again opinion is divided.

      • Of course the opinion is divided. That kind of goes without saying. I don’t know anything about this guy or the situation or much of anything at all but he sounds like a weasel.

      • Y’know, Steve, I always try to see the best in people, but I have a sneaking feeling you’re right about him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s