A question that should spark a discussion
I seldom do this but there’s so little going on and this is quite an intriguing question that might engender some discussion so let’s go to the mailbag and a missive from my learned friend Charles.
Like it or not A-Rod is now a troubling emblem for sports fans: the Contract, PEDs, his behaviour, the collective bargaining agreement with MLB, fans' jealousies -hatreds, the responses of his fellow professional baseball players, etc. It is all fodder for the analytical mill.
Surely money, greed and fame are a big part of it all. The truism "baseball is a business" rests on a deeper foundation: the game of baseball itself. Many of us love this game and, like someone in love willing to overlook glaring deficiencies in the object of our affection, we have tried to ignore the ways the game has been undermined -- by home-run-crazy media and owners; by players willing break drug-usage rules to win big contracts and break records.
This helps to explain why Muneori Kawasaki here in Toronto is so popular: he represents a time and a way of being that is more pure. He plays in a skills-based old-fashioned way; his enthusiasm is both personal and social. His positive effect on teammates and fans is obvious.
Can the game- and for that matter, most of pro sports - survive what money, greed and fame do to erode what we love as kids and adults?
Charles N, Toronto
See? That’s a good one, isn’t it?
In the smaller picture, I think we’ve seen that baseball can survive but to suggest it’s anything like it was even in my era is dead wrong, I’m afraid.
I presume there are a lot of people out there who are so jaded, so put-off by the antics of players and owners and officials that some of the joy of simply sitting and watching a ball game is gone.
It’s not the same because to many, I believe, anything extraordinary, anything spectacular is almost always met with cynicism; that guy can’t be doing that on his own, we think, because so many others have ruined it and we simply aren’t as trusting in, or appreciative of, athletic excellence.
Don’t get me wrong, I can still sit and while away a few hours watching a game and love it, and I’d hope that many can. And as we see attendance records set and TV ratings go up, it’s proof that the game still holds an allure that is strong. It’s not the same, but strong, if you know what I mean.
There is one thing that rankles me, though, and it is that mistrust in all things great. It’s why the cheaters ruin it for others at every level, we cast accusatory glances at anything special, as if because a handful of people have sullied the game, everyone must be dirty. It’s not true, but it’s a prevalent way of thinking.
And that’s what the game has lost.
And does it go for the other sports? I don’t think so, to tell you the truth. For some reason baseball, the grand old game, is different. Maybe it’s because we spend so much time comparing eras – is this guy as good as that guy, could this pitcher put up these numbers back then – and we can’t any more; the drug cheats robbed us of that in a very large way.
I guess the short answer is this:
Yes, it can survive; no, it is not the same.
And that’s too bad.
Who wouldn’t want to talk to angels as often as possible?
So that was the wildest Mighty Navy Tigers game I’ve been involved with and one of the wackiest in years.
Already with one loss in a double-knockout playoff tournament, we go into the bottom of the seventh, and last, inning needing six runs to tie.
Well, we get the six, of course, and leave the bases loaded.
Off to extras we go; we give up two in the top of the eighth and, of course, we get two in the bottom to tie again.
The Bad Guys get the bases loaded with one out in the top of the ninth with one out and – presto! – the lights go out.
Yep, they’re on some meter controlled by some city computer in some office somewhere and at 11:06, it’s time for everyone to go.
Now, I understand cities need to control costs and want some quiet late at night and all that but, really? Come on.
We’ll traipse back out there tonight at 6 to finish, the winner will play again right away and the loser’s season will be over after an abbreviated night.
Speaking of mail, it’s total loafing week (I could get used to this, it’s fun flying by the seat of your pants with no plans and looking for places to hide out) but I am Argo Boy on Friday night so there won’t be any stool or deck time that day and what better way to pass the time than by answering your probing questions.
You know the email@example.com drill, right?
Yes, losing Carl English from the national men’s team is a blow that no one really needed.
Only put it on the tweeter yesterday because I didn’t feel like writing but he had to leave the team due to “personal reasons” according to Canada Basketball and there goes some leadership and, likely, some scoring.
I say “likely” because English had been banged up and hadn’t played or practiced full tilt and no one could know for sure what he’d been able to give them but now any chance of any contribution is gone.
What’s it mean?
Well, now someone is going to have to emerge as an offensive force – hello, Andy Rautins and Jevohn Shepherd – and there might even have to be more focus on defence for the team that opens the Tuto Marchand tourney in Puerto Rico today.
Can they qualify? Sure. Will it be a tad more difficult now? Likely, but it’s not as if English had been dominant – or even active – in the abbreviated season the team plays.
I think this team will live and die an awful lot on the play of its point guards and its bigs; the wings will give them some stuff but they need the other guys to have huge tournaments once they get to Venezuela.
Am off to Niagara to deal with some stuff this morning, will get back to comments whenever I can but I think this is going to be mainly a lost day.