Although they’d like to scout the Far East like many other teams do looking for
phenoms playing in Asia, the Minnesota Twins are too cheap to send their talent
scouts any farther east than Peoria, Illinois… (from MAD #416)
Ah…. Baseball. The Great American Pastime. The 2009 season starts today and, as always, hope springs eternal for the Hometown Nine… at least for a little while.
Pro sports for the most part really turn me off. I like and follow the NFL mostly because being born and raised in Wisconsin I am hardwired as a Green Bay Packer fan, but the prancing, posturing players make me sick. Pro basketball is populated by lazy, pampered crybabies that give 100% effort about 5% of the time. Hockey never interested me much. Ditto golf, tennis and the lesser pro sports like soccer. Baseball is really the only sport I still get enthusiastic about.
It isn’t perfect. Egos and poor sportsmanship are becoming more and more prevalent, but it is still far less of a problem than in the other major sports. I think it’s because baseball is the last major pro sport where you have to work your way up to the major leagues through an unglamorous minor league system. Most MLB players have to toil for years in the minors, working hard to get to “the show”… and the majority never do make it to the big leagues. It’s harder to forget where you came from when it took that much time and effort to get to the top and so many of your fellow players don’t make it at all. For football and basketball, college play is their “minor leagues”, but there is no comparison. Players are scouted from junior high these days, and by the time they get to the college level (if they even do, basketball players are entering the draft right from high school more and more, or leaving college for the pros early) they are practically inked in for being a pro. They get the superstar treatment early, and a young ego does not often remain grounded in that kind of environment. That’s why some of these pro athletes think the sun rises and sets on them… they’ve been told it does from an early age. Baseball, with a few notable exceptions (Barry Bonds, anyone?), largely avoids that with their blue collar system.
Best of all with baseball… it’s a long season at 162 games. Some call that a disadvantage in this day of short attention spans and instant gratification. I think it’s the opposite. The long season allows for the unquestioned result of the best teams reaching the post season. In football, with only 16 games, any team can get hot/lucky enough to make the playoffs, and a few lucky bounces can get them far in the postseason. No way can that happen in baseball. Likewise the long season allows for team fans to hang on to the hope their team will make a run and be a factor in the race for a playoff spot… often football and basketball teams have no hope after only 25% of the season is played. Finally, the game itself is more relaxing to experience. You can cheer and get excited if your team does good, but you don’t need to be disheartened if they play poorly, as there is always the next game. You can go get a hot dog and soda or chat with your neighbor and not miss much of the game. Plus, there are just a lot more games to enjoy. If football and basketball are action movies, baseball is suspense.
I love taking my kids to a handful of games a season… and I’m REALLY looking forward to doing so next year in the Twin’s new outdoor park. I used to do a fair amount of work for the Minnesota Twins, with comp tickets being a perk. Even without comps, baseball remains the most affordable pro sport, with some seats less than $10 each and some promotions making it even cheaper. Last summer our extended family went to a Twins games on a promo Sunday where one adult ticket got you two under 16 kids in for free. I think 20 of us went for only $72 in tickets. That’s $3.60 each. That’s less than some types of coffee at Starbucks,
I love talking baseball with my dad, who actually is as much a Twins fan as a Milwaukee Brewers fan these days. The famous line from “City Slickers” always comes to mind, when Daniel Stern tells Billy Crystal about how, no matter how big the differences were between himself and his father, they could always “talk about baseball”.
More than anything, I love having my studio windows opened on a summer afternoon, feeling the warm breeze, sipping a Coke, hearing somebody’s lawn mower in the distance and listening to the game on the radio while I am working. That is pure Americana.
So, play ball, boys of summer. Welcome back.
753 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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