Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Why I Love Baseball Season

There are many reasons why I love the baseball season. In the next few paragraphs I'll let you know several of those reasons.

Always first on the list is that I love the game. I have always loved the game. I enjoyed playing when I was young, coaching when the kids were young and watching either live or on TV all my life. I have memories of watching baseball games on a gigantic black and white TV that probably had a 7" or 9" screen. That was back when I was under six years old and living in the metro NYC area. There were three teams in New York back then and it seemed one of the teams was almost always on TV. There were a lot of day games back then. Besides leading the nation in major league teams, NYC had the most TV stations. Atop that 9" gigantic TV was a set of rabbit ears antenna that picked up all the NYC stations, some of which were actually in New Jersey. I have no recollection of specific games, just a general memory. At the very end of my time in the NYC area Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were just breaking in. Duke Snyder in Brooklyn was a little older. Three all star Hall of Fame center fielders in the same city. Somehow Willie Mays caught my attention and I became a huge fan. I still believe he is the best overall baseball player ever.
What is ironic, or maybe how it's supposed to work, is that my dad was a die hard Yankees fan. How could my favorite player be Willie Mays who played for the Giants? Somehow I carried those foggy images of Willie throughout my life. Of course I saw him on TV occasionally on the game of the week or an all-star game after we moved to Florida. Thankfully I did finally get to see Willie play in person when I moved to Atlanta in the late 1960's, first with the now San Francisco Giants and finally with the New York Mets. The fact that I got to see my favorite player on a fuzzy TV when I was four or five and then in person in my early twenties was great. It's another reason I love baseball. 

The first twenty years of my major league experience was mostly watching on TV with the occasional live minor league game. I had gone to a few MLB games live, but it was an event. That changed when I moved to Atlanta in the late 60's. I was able to go to several games each season. As many of you know, there is no comparison between a live game at the ballpark and one on TV. That Atlanta team I watched included a fair ballplayer by the name of Hank Aaron.
When I moved to Texas I had a new MLB team in the neighborhood. Not a particularly good team and not a particularly good stadium. I didn't really care. I was now able to go to a MLB game any time I wanted. There were no sellouts for the Rangers back then. I could get a cheap ticket for a good seat for almost any game on game day. The old ballpark was a mess but it sure was fun. There were usually about 10,000 fans there on a good night. Even that small crowd could overwhelm the concessions and restrooms. The whole bottom level of the stadium was often flooded.  Back then we went to games to drink beer and see the opposing team's stars since there were no stars on the Rangers.
Arlington Stadium

In the early 90's the Rangers got better. Not playoff better, but respectable. Nolan Ryan came to town to pitch. Supposedly an old man he managed to throw two more no-hitters (7 total), get his 300th win and 5,000th strike out. A young buck catcher named Ivan (Pudge) Rodriguez also joined the team. Maybe the best catcher to ever play the game and a joy to watch. 

The next chapter includes the new Rangers Ballpark in the middle 1990's and continued improvement of the team. It was a team with several Latino stars which played well in D/FW. The new ballpark was beautiful. Then came playoff baseball. The Rangers kept running into the Yankees in the first round so our post-season ended early. It was during this time that my youngest son caught the baseball fever. He and I went to Rangers games where he got to see his favorite player, Pudge Rodriguez. We also went to a few pre-season open house fan days where he got to see the locker room, hit in the Rangers batting cages and run the bases. He's became a fan forever. There is nothing better than going to a baseball game with your son, regardless of their age.
Rangers Ballpark

Finally in the 2010's the Rangers got to the World Series twice, but fell short. It was exciting. The whole area was pumped. I went to a couple of playoff games and the stadium was rocking.

Besides the live enjoyment, I love baseball season for the TV broadcasts. Since I get every Rangers game on my local cable Fox Sports SW, local TXA 21 or some national broadcasts on ESPN, MLB.TV or Fox, I have something enjoyable to watch every night. This is reality TV that is actually real. On the few nights the Rangers don't play or when they have a day game, there is usually another game on. I always watch the game live and record any other stuff on TV that I may want to watch later. During the game I have time to read, do computer stuff or any number of other things.

I almost always read, write or do some other activity when I watch TV. Baseball broadcasts are perfect for this. If needed I can mute the TV and still keep track of what's going on. I can even tune out for a couple of innings and catch up later.  

Baseball has given me joy for many, many years. I fully expect that to continue for at least a few more years. I'll watch any baseball game I come across from T-ball to the major leagues. You will never see any two games that are the same. Even after watching thousands of games you are apt to see something for the first time. There are hundreds of nuances to the game.

So, take me out to the ballgame. 


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