Apparently the groundhog does, too.
Former Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck once said, “There are two seasons, winter and baseball.”
Snowballs, skis and trays from the dining halls have all been some of the most popular items to play with throughout this and every winter season.
Isn’t it time for some new toys?
Although it is still January, I am ready to put a glove on my hand and toss around a white leather ball with red stitching.
I’m ready for baseball.
The feeling of the ball smacking into your Rawlings mitt, the ding of an aluminum bat colliding with the ball, and the dirt accumulating in your shoes as you round the bases create memories that last a lifetime.
Sadly, my time in organized baseball has been over for nearly five years. I find it hard-pressed to get pickup games going, as many of my friends have given up their childhood recollection of their first Little League games. Some even go as far as saying baseball is a dying sport.
I’m here to defend our national pastime.
The first thing I hear from anti-baseball narcissists is that it’s a boring game. “It takes so long in between pitches, and it’s never exciting,” they moan.
OK, so there’s no hard-hitting action like in hockey or football. But it’s far from dreary.
There are nine guys out in the field ready to move on any pitch. Each player has specific game plans for each hitter and has to adjust to every pitch. There can’t be any flaw in their concentration at any time.
Furthermore, the precise skill of hitting is far from simple.
Ted Williams, a 19-time All Star and two-time MVP, said hitting a baseball was the hardest thing to do in the sport.
Based on the national television ratings, baseball has indeed taken a backseat to the National Football League. In all honesty, that makes sense.
After all, it’s kind of hard to plan a life around 162 Major League Baseball games.
ose against the sport have plenty of ammunition to put down the nearly 200-year-old sport, as no instant replay and the lack of a salary cap seems to have hindered interest in the sport.
But, unlike any other sport on earth, baseball is built on tradition. The dirt fields and humble beginnings have translated to the modern game with a blue collar ethic and desire for personal achievement. Baseball is embedded in the soil of the founding of America.
Can any sport hold a candle to that distinction?
While basketball and football may be easier to play with simple equipment, baseball has been here from the get-go.
Even today, the mentality of the sport is carried out by the die-hard players, coaches and fans.
Last Friday, West Virginia head baseball Greg Van Zant tweeted that his squad opened practice with “great effort” and a well-prepared attitude. Although, he has drawn harsh criticisms in his 15 years at WVU, Van Zant appreciates the central ethics of being a baseball player.
While we are all suffering through the harsh conditions of the winter doldrums there is something to look forward to that will rid ourselves of the freezing torment: Baseball.
I was absent from the blog last week, for good reason. It seemed that the Pirate’s were absent from their talent as well.
My beloved Bucs suffered a 12-game losing streak from June 6th through this past Saturday. I think it was all my fault.
I went to that game on the 6th and witnesses a heartbreaking extra inning loss. Delwyn Young belted a pinch hit homerun to send the game to a tenth inning, but Octavio Dotel just could not hang on to the lead.
From that moment Pittsburgh fell to the Cubs in a one game makeup series. Were swept on the road in Washington as well as at home against the White Sox. Then my most most hated professional sports….
The Cleveland Indians. The Indians came into PNC Park on Friday and beat the Pirates 4-3. It was a pitcher’s duel til the seventh inning when the Tribe jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Pittsburgh manufactured runs the very next inning getting their three, but it just couldn’t answer when needed. I attended that game and the most thrilling moment may have come before hand when I met local FSN Pittsburgh reporter Dan Potash.
I honestly think Mr. Potash was more thrilled that I recognized him. He was overjoyed, very friendly and carefree with me. I bet he called his mom and said “Wow, somebody wanted a picture with me!” Ok that may sound a bit harsh, he was top notch and first class.
Take a look at my shirt there. Better yet, i’ll zoom in for you.
It is a hot item in the ‘burgh these days as the Milledge People are taking over. The shirt features the bodies of the famous Village People of the 1970’s with super-imposed faces of Lastings Milledge with a Pirate hat on each of them. It is hysterical I think, plus at some games six college kids sit in teh outfield dressed in Village People fashion. Unfortunately for me, Milledge did not play on Friday.
However, Saturday was a much different story. For one I was not watching. I was in Washington D.C. with some friends representing WVU. It was a fun day and an even funner night, that blog will be coming in the next entry.
But anyway, the Pirates did manage to break the dreaded streak thanks to a 3-for-4, 4 RBI performance from Lasting Milledge.
Milledge has been recieving spotty playing time ever since the arrival of youngster Jose Tabata. Tabata has been holding down the fort in left field, the original position of Milledge, because of that number 85 and Ryan Church have been splitting tim in right field. The lack of playing time must have lit a fire under his butt and hopefully that gave him a spark and a reason to finally deliever how he was expected to do. He has still yet to hit a homerun, a necessity on this team that lacks any power threat
That is until now.
The arrival of highly touted prospect Pedro Alvarez occured this week.
He’s going to be something special, at least that is what Bucco fans have been told. It is no secret that Alvarez has been called the best Pirates prospect since Barry Bonds. Lofty shoes to fill and I know it will take time but it is something, really the only thing that has given Pittsburgh fans hope in quite some time.
He is a lefty, power hitting thrid basemen. The Pirates have lacked all three for many years. To get it all in one package really fills that void.
He has yet to get the ball rolling collecting just one hit in 16 major league at bats. He had a stellar minr league career as he flirted with a .300 avergae while belting 40 homeruns in just two seasons.
I for one do believe the hype.
At Friday’s game I went off the deep end before he even earned his innagural major league hit and dropped $27 bucks on an Alvarez shirt. Way too much for the time being but I do think I am the only one who has bought one yet, I loved being distinctive. However, that was probably trumped on Saturday when he did get his first hit. He has a long career ahead of him, I just hope it is fruitful.
Speaking of fruitful my favorite fruit is pineapple. Sorry for that irrelevant tidbit. I do think I will sign off on that note. Stay tuned for my next entry recapping the Pitt Peas’ visit to Washington D.C. and Nationals Park!
photo credits: horridindian.com, fanball.com, kentucky.com