Saturday, November 5, 2016

‘No ballgame today’ – we’ll have to wait ‘til spring for baseball to return

It looks so simple on paper – 5-3 – marked under a column of the scorecard for the 10th inning.
There's no lonelier place than an off-season ballfield
I’m sure those who are Chicago Cubs fans will forevermore regard as a happy moment that bit indicating the groundball hit to third baseman Kris Bryant, then thrown to Anthony Rizzo at first base for the final out that ensured the first World Series title ever for a team that plays its home games at Wrigley Field.

YET I HAVE to confess to feeling a twinge of sadness at that sight.

Not because I cared about the Cubs or had a strong rooting interest in either team that was playing. But because I enjoy baseball.

And the final out of the final game of the World Series each year always brings out a feeling in me that the game is gone; for the time being.

Perhaps it’s because professional baseball teams play nearly every day during the season that they become truly wrapped up in the routines of our lives; in a way that the Chicago Bears with their once-a-week loss (or so it seems) just can’t.

THERE IS A beauty to the form of the ballgame as the pitcher vs. hitter challenge takes place; trying to see if one can out-think the other to their success. With other ballplayers hopping into action in those spare moments when contact is made with the ball.

Producing those moments that inspire newspaper photographers into action – freezing forever those bits of action for us to study. The diving catch. The bobbled ball. That moment of agony on an outfielder’s face as he realizes the fly ball is headed over the fence – and there’s not a thing he can do to stop it!
Even non-North Side felt something for Cubs

These moments that can make watching a ballgame a real treasure. Totally lost on those kinds of people who think anything other than a 15-9 ballgame is boring – although I actually think those high-scoring slugfests are dull because it usually means the pitching stinks, errors are being made in the field and everything is out-of-whack.

And now, it’s over. Another season is in the record books. Something that can be studied by those inclined to do so, while many of us will remember the individual moments of the games we actually saw. We’ll likely exaggerate their significance.
Line shot will never depart my mind

JUST AS I will forever recall a line drive double that Reggie Jackson hit off the right field wall at Comiskey Park in a 1979 ballgame – it struck me as being the hardest-hit ball I ever saw.

On the scorecard, it looks like a simple “2B-9” hit off pitcher Ken Kravec. But I remember it as a sizzling shot that never went more than 15 or so feet in the air – and would have been a home run if it had cleared the fence a foot higher instead of smashing into the wall.

Of course, the likely story would have been White Sox fan killed by Yankee home run. Because I doubt any fan in the outfield stands could have reacted quickly enough to avoid being hit in the face by the drive.

It’s these little moments that stick in my mind about baseball. The sight of ballplayers congregated on the pitcher’s mound deep in discussion about the game (and wondering if they’re really checking out the blonde who got herself a box seat right behind the dugout).

THE MANAGER CHARGING out of the dugout to argue with an umpire’s call – and knowing that the choice words he’d like to use to describe the ump’s mother will get him ejected!

Watching the coaches relay all those signals to the batter – and wondering how screwed up things will get if the coach inadvertently scratches his earlobe at the wrong moment?

I’d be willing to bet that similar thoughts are running through the minds of baseball fans everywhere – although for those who are Cubs-obsessed, they were able to delay them a bit, what with the parade that stretched from Wrigley Field through downtown on Friday.

Particularly if you’re inclined to believe Gov. Bruce Rauner, who in issuing the proclamation declaring Friday in Illinois to be World Champion Chicago Cubs Day said, “the Cubs winning the World Series is bigger than baseball.”
Baseball will be back come April
WHETHER YOU AGREE with that statement or not, the season is now over.

Unless you’re inclined to check out the stats in the assorted Latin American winter leagues (where, by the way, the late White Sox star Minnie Miñoso’s old Jalisco Charros team – he both played for, and managed, them – beat the Hermosillo Orange Growers 11-8 Thursday night), you’ll have to endure some five months of inactivity before we again see meaningful games being played.

For some of us, an empty ballpark is an even sadder sight than one when our favorite ball club loses.


No comments: