Sam

Archive for the ‘Traditions’ Category

Not feeling so patriotic today

In Pet Peeves, Satire, Traditions, Trivia and Nostalgia, Uncategorized on July 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Wasn’t planning on writing anything today. It is after all The Fourth of July. But then I tuned into Fox’s Game of the Week ( Dodgers-Padres) and found that their coverage of Manny Ramirez’s return to the Dodgers lineup warranted an entry.

It is as if Fox and MLB were celebrating Ramirez’s return. There was Manny all primped up in a pre-game press conference saying how nice it was to be back. No mention anywhere about why Manny had been out of the lineup. When Manny came up for his first at bat, Dick Stockton and Eric Karros fawned on him – again no mention really of why he had not been in the lineup for two months.  I could read the lips of one girl in the stands who was yelling “come on Manny,”  perhaps unaware that Manny had been suspended 50 games for drug use ( it being more likely that she knew but just didn’t care). When Manny hit a HR Stockton’s, call betrayed nothing but unbridled  joy while Karros added how incredible it was that Manny can return to the lineup and be back in top form so quickly.  All the while the fans cheered ( even though this game was being played in San Diego) adding to this sick feeding frenzy.

You wonder what kind of message this sends to people, particularly to young kids or to players at the lower levels of professional baseball who are trying to crack ( no pun intended, Manny ) a major league lineup ? The message I think it sends is that, hey, it is OK to cheat.  If you are good enough people don’t really care how you get there and they will still cheer for you. This is America.

A final irony. As were all the players on the field today, Manny wore a patch commeratiing the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrigs famous Fourth of July speech at Yankee Stadium. This juxtapositon of class and no class was so funny that I could not help but chuckle before getting up to turn off the TV. I had had enough.

Happy 4th of July.

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Red baseball caps ?

In Pet Peeves, Satire, Traditions, Uncategorized on July 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

There is nothing I love more than plopping down on the couch on Friday evening and watching a ballgame. After dinner tonight I turned on Giants-Astros game, Lowenbrau in hand ( a beer actually brewed in Germany, not one that  says “Imported” and is, in fact, brewed in Canada.  Read the labels carefully and you will see what I mean ) and just about had a cardiac when the Giants took the field wearing red caps !  So confused was I that it took me a few batters to figure out that the Giants were wearing these hats in observance of the 4th of July ( even though today is not the 4th of July but the 3rd, obviously what threw me off  in the first place)

Even my wife was confused when she walked into the room and glanced at the TV screen. Seeing the red hats, she asked me ” weren’t you watching the Giants game ?” I replied that I was and that the Giants were wearing red hats in observance of Independence Day, to which she shook her head and walked away.

The Giants franchise dates back to the 1880s and the teams have always worn either blue and orange ( occasionally in Mel Ott’s day) or black and orange from the early 1950s.  In short, the Giants have no business in red ! In fact, the only teams that should wear red caps are the Reds, the Phillies, the Cards and maybe a couple of other teams.

When I switched over to ESPN during a commerical I saw that other teams were wearing the  caps as well.  Giants Broadcaster Duane Kuiper mentioned that teams were wearing the red caps this weekend as a show of support for the Armed Forces.  But I suspect this is nothing more than marketing behind a veil of patriotism.  The cap is one more product – among a dizzying array of cheap memorabilia, tacky replica jerseys and chatchkis- that MLB can market to a growing fan base  ignorant about the history of the game. Sure enough when I went to the MLB website this morning, there they were, the “Stars and Stripes Perfomance on the field hats.”  If you want one it will only cost you $ 36.99.

Because this is America.

First friday night game of the season

In Traditions on April 23, 2009 at 11:49 am

First Friday night game of the year was last week. Giants won 2-0 to snap a six game losing streak. Watching the 2009 version of the SF Giants is about as interesting as watching a fly trapped in your kitchen try to navigate its way back to the outside world……….so we spent much of the evening sipping beers from a couple of 1958 Hamms wax beer cups I had found on EBAY and looking at Casey Stengel “Old Perfessor” quotes on Lin’s I-phone. Lin was looking to enhance his profile on his company’s website with a little Stengelese. Settled on the following :

The secret of successful managing is to keep the five guys who hate you away from the four guys who haven’t made up their minds.

As a kid I used to enjoy going to Friday night games at Candlestick Park. In those days night games started at 8:05 which allowed people to eat at home with their families ( at one time in America the family dinner hour was sacred ) and then head out to the ballgame. Contrast that to nowadays when most teams have a 7 pm first pitch which more or less gives fans no alternative but to eat at the ballpark, where they pay inflated prices for food. Foregoing the $ 4.00 parking lot we would park in the dirt lot on the perimeter of the stadium for a buck and then make our way to the ticket booths outside the concourse. The prices in those days: $1.00 for bleachers; $ 2.50 for upper reserve; $3.50 for lower reserve. $4.50 for a box seat. $ 4.50 today doesn’t even get you an order of fries at ATT Park.

It would get bitterly cold at Candlestick (this was before the stadium was enclosed in 1971-72) as the wind used to blow in across the outfield from the bay. We would bundle up with our thermoses and enjoy the game and the organ music between innings, which is about all a baseball game used to consist of.

Inside the ballpark the crowd was diverse. Unlike today when exorbitant ticket pricing has created a caste system at the ballpark, at the old Candlestick Park dishwashers with the buying power to afford a $ 3.50 ticket would sit side by side with lawyers and engage in conversation while watching the game. For a 12 year old kid like myself the diversity was a fleeting escape from the homogeneity of the suburbs , but valuable social education nevertheless. In a society struggling to be fair baseball was the great equalizer. Not any more. I don’t know the last time I sat next to a black person at a baseball game. A sad commentary on our society, and on our National Pastime, I believe.

Final thought on this post: Was reminiscing with Lin about the old days when ballpark Cokes came in waxed cups with cellophane lids. Remember those ? The lids were heat sealed on the cups and crackled loudly when you poked your finger thorough them. Those cups have disappeared meaning, I guess, that not everything about going to a ballgame nowadays is to be lamented. And beer used to be poured in the stands while you kept one eye on the game. It was only $ 0.75 then. Now it is $ 9.00.

Hard to believe, isn’t it