Sam

Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Doubleheaders

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2011 at 5:41 am

For no particular reason I was thinking about doubleheaders tonight. Whereas each Major League team used to play a handful of doubleheaders each season, nowadays it is unusual if a team has even one doubleheader on its schedule. And now they are called “day-night doubleheaders” the first game played in the afternoon and the second game in the evening, three or four hours after the conclusion of the first game. Fans of course must buy tickets to two separate games, what is always the coda of the announcement when the “doubleheader” is announced with great ceremony on the radio broadcast. In other words, if you want to go to a doubleheader nowadays you have to buy two tickets, leave the ballpark after the first game, and re-enter the park several hours later. Is this a doubleheader or deceitful marketing ?

Doubleheaders were wonderful because, more than anything else, it meant that you got to watch a game for free. Buy one and get one free. What was more American that. One suspects that owners did not make any money by allowing fans to buy a $ 1.00 bleacher ticket and watch two games over the course of an afternoon. But back then it really didn’t matter. Doubleheaders belonged to an era when the line between baseball as a game and baseball as a business was not so clearly drawn. Doubleheaders were just another baseball tradition that showed up on the schedule year in year out. Fans profited. Owners lost. No one cared becuse it was just baseball.

Doubleheaders gave us some of the greatest single-day performances in baseball history e.g. Stan Musial’s 5 home runs in a DH on May 2, 1954 or Roberto Clemente’s 10 hits in a DH in 1970. If you loved baseball, you especially loved Sundays – because of doubleheaders.

Doubleheaders. Yet another marvelous baseball tradition that greed has banished into obscurity.

Advertisements

Post 3-11 Sports purist

In Uncategorized on April 25, 2011 at 5:29 am

It has been awhile since I have written anything. Living here in Tokyo we endured the earthquake of March 11 ( what is now being referred to here as ‘3-11″ ) and have been collectively paralyzed by everything that followed, most notably Fukushima. But life is slowly getting back to normal here: the trains are packed during the morning commute; the spate of post-disaster TV news programs, some of them very good, have given way to the insipid variety programs that define Japanese TV; people are thinking about foreign travel, hot springs and food again. So when I received an email the other day from a friend bemoaning Bud Selig’s plan to expand the playoffs I realized it was time for the Sports Purist to get back to “normal” too.

Since the season opened, there has been a lot to opine about including the Barry Bonds trial, the brutal beating of a fan outside Dodger Stadium , Manny Ramirez’s very un-graceful “retirement.” But let’s start with Bud Selig.

I have never understood Bud Selig. Selig has always been a self-professed baseball fan, frequently talking about his love for those great Milwaukee Braves teams of the late 1950s while a kid growing up in Milwaukee. He has been a lifelong friend of Henry Aaron which means that he can’t be all that bad. Or at least you would think. Yet Selig has done more to ruin the game during his tenure than any commissioner before him. Under Selig we have seen:

– Inter-league play which deprives the World Series of considerable mystique.
– World Series games frequently played into late October, early November.
– Rampant drug use.
– A gimmicky winner-takes-all format for the all-star game.
– A tie in an all-star game.
– Hallowed baseball records broken by ball players on steroids.
– Two Red Sox World Series championships ( right there that tells you that something is out of kilter)
– A disastrous players strike in 1994, until the strike one of baseballs most exciting seasons ever.
– Regular season games played on foreign soil including an “opening day” in Tokyo
– An astronomical rise in players salaries and ticket prices so that the demographic in any major league park nowadays is decidedly white and middle class ( Dodger Stadium is not a ballpark. It is a drug-infested neighborhood).

Anyway, I can do without Bud Selig. Even if he is a friend of Henry Aaron’s.