Go Rangers, Dominate that Weird Game!

Look, I don’t do baseball. I find it generally boring. If I’m watching it, I want to make sure I have a book in one hand and the other hand inside a bag of chips, with the remote nearby so I can quickly switch back to Lifetime Movie Network and see women getting sweet revenge.

But this World Series, with my beloved Texas Rangers pounding their way to possibly the best in this and all parallel universes, for the first time in franchise history, has kind of hooked me.

My brother Jack and his wife Michelle at Game 5

As I watch, I have burning questions every inning. How much do they pay a first-base coach? — because I think I could actually do that. Does the umpire signaling nothing whatever mean “ball”? If computers can tell us instantly whether a pitch entered the strike zone, why do we have an umpire? Is this a labor union thing? Has there ever actually been a balk, which I ask sincerely since there appear to be 152 rules applicable to balks? Shouldn’t it be an “eminent domain” instead of a “steal”? I mean, I think we can all agree, stealing is wrong. What are we teaching our children? Is there any protocol regarding, say, 15 straight foul balls? Can we go into sudden death maybe, and move on? And by the way, “Foul ball”? Really? “Foul”? as in offensive, polluted, dirty, soiled? Shouldn’t it be “Embarrassing Ball” or “Useless Ball”? Or maybe “Tedious Ball”? Can a pitcher sneak in a quick pitch while the batter is doing that interminable practice swing thing? Why do pitchers get credits for wins (or saves) when outfielders heroically catch balls that very nearly left the ballpark? Shouldn’t the outfielder be credited with the win? Aren’t stats a wee bit distorted when the winning team doesn’t get to add to them in the bottom of the 9th?

My head is spinning, but I’m giddy about the Rangers — mindful that they travel to the frozen tundra for games 6 and 7. Dallas handed the great city of St. Louis a thorough whacking this weekend — two World Series wins, plus the Cowboys hammering the St. Louis Rams 34-7. Can the Rangers close where it’s cold? Two shots. History. Make it happen, for my Dad.

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7 Responses to Go Rangers, Dominate that Weird Game!

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Is there really a need for all that crotch grabbing? Why don’t they all wear boxers so they won’t have to keep tugging at their hind end? Do those hand signals have anything to do with baseball or are they just dissing the umps? Why aren’t there any cheerleaders in baseball? Must they spit, really? Why a diamond and not a circle? Why does the pitcher get a mound and the catcher get nuthin’? Why do baseball players get to hide in the dugout? Wouldn’t they behave better if everyone could see them? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to watch if the base runners were all required to do fast walking instead of running?

    I’ll root for the Rangers with you, dear Kendrick.

    • And the mysteries just multiply… 🙂 Cheers Jean.

  2. Jeff says:

    Great! Finally a blog piece where I can claim unequivocally to be the expert. Not that I am going to answer any of your questions, baseball is symbiotic relationship. You’ll have to make more of a commitment if you want to know the truth. The more you love baseball, the more it embraces you into the history and lore of the game. For instance, I am, no doubt, the only person in your blogosphere to receive a standing ovation at Fenway Park. I would tell this story but I am not sure you and your audience are sophisticated enough in the great game to be able to appreciate it. Some people have fantasy dinners. I have my fantasy group of people I want to go to a baseball game with: George Will, Doris Kearns Goodwin, both George Bushes, Satchell Paige (I have a KC Monarchs jersey), Ernie Banks or Willie Mays (but not both because I couldn’t spend enough time with either) Jim Bouton, and, new to the list, Derek Holland.

    May I suggest: Ken Burns Baseball doc, Ball Four by Jim Bouton, The Stratton Story with Jimmy Stewart and June Allison, the George Carlin monologue about the difference between Baseball and football, and this web site: http://bestbaseballbooks.com/pages/library.html.

    This will be the most difficult victory in the meager Texas Ranger franchise history. It will be in the cold and against one of the most storied franchises in baseball history. If you don’t recognize these names: Rich Billings, Horatio Pena, Joe Lovitto, Paul Linblad, Mike Hargrove, or Jeff Burroughs, you are not old school Rangers. If you never sat on the aluminum benches in the outfield of old Arlington Stadium in 100 degree heat, in a 100 loss season, then forgive my sneer. If Buddy Bell, Jim Sundberg, Fergie Jenkins, Toby Harrah, Jim Bibby, Rusty Staub, and Tom Grieve mean nothing to you, then I feel a little sorry for you.

    It is a difficult adjustment to be the fan of a long suffering lovable loser that suddenly turns into a perenial power almost champion.We want to try to maintain our dignity but since we never had any, we don’t know quite how to act. We’re so new to this winning thing, all we can is just jump and down and squeal. Go Rangers!

    • Fantastic Jeff. I’ve actually had a couple of friends like you before, who strove valiantly to introduce me to the Eleusinian-like Mysteries of Baseball — and how can a sport really be off-putting if George Will treats it on a par of reverent importance with the budget deficit and national security? But I’ve failed to catch the fever so far. Watching Game 5 though, or at least the end of it, was as close as I’ve gotten to feeling the tingle passion I feel when the Cowboys or the Longhorns win a football game. I’m not sure I’ll ever be equipped to appreciate the sport — but I definitely appreciate the appreciaters, and you might say I’ve just graduated from kindergarten on comprehending the allure of the game. Go Rangers!

  3. "harken to the hinter" says:

    I started because my son loved the game. He was playing and knew all the stats of the pro teams, etc.

  4. Jeff says:

    If I could write poetry, I’d write the equivalent of “The Leaves of Grass” about baseball. To me, the problem with America, including me, is that we don’t watch enough baseball. We don’t play enough baseball. We have lost much of our baseball rythm of living. We don’t lose today and come back tomorrow for another try. We loose and we gripe for days or weeks. We have moved to a football mentality which places too much emphasis of outcomes and not nearly enough on process. There is too much to unpack here but it really comes down to timelessness. A game with no time limit but has a set duration based on a equal number of opportunities perform the game to perfection. Baseball is the place where stats people and poets can share the most passionate and exhilarating experiences. Oh heck, I wish I had a summer in DC or you in Texas where we could go to every home game. We likely would never be terse with each other ever again.

    As George Carlin says, and you can watch him do it on youtube, as only he can:

    In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you’d ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform,you’d know the reason for this custom.

    Now, I’ve mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

    I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

    Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
    Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

    Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
    Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

    Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
    Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

    In football you wear a helmet.
    In baseball you wear a cap.

    Football is concerned with downs – what down is it?
    Baseball is concerned with ups – who’s up?

    In football you receive a penalty.
    In baseball you make an error.

    In football the specialist comes in to kick.
    In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

    Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
    Baseball has the sacrifice.

    Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog…
    In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

    Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
    Football has the two minute warning.

    Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end – might have extra innings.
    Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

    In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.
    In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

    And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

    In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

    In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!

    • Gorgeously written. Thank you for sharing that.

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