Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Beauty of Baseball: When Champions Look Like a Bunch of Kids Off a Hardscrabble Lot

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I decided not to listen to today's game pitting the Oakland A's against the Texas Rangers, afraid "my" sometime team would lose. I am a fair weather fan. Years ago, when I was building my model amusement park rides, I'd listen to the games, glued to the radio, for they were decently in contention -- my only diversion into the world of pro sports, which on balance I (call me a snob) disdain. All those lying steroid fakes, bloated beyond humanity, pulling in millions and never enough.

Downstairs to pick up a UPS delivery, UPS guy was gazing at his smart phone, asking me with excitement if I was following the game. The score --- nine-to-five he said.  I was swept up with hope.

I remember, years ago, in 1972, watching them play at the Oakland Coliseum under a clear blue fall sky.  Those were world series years, and I was there courtesy of my employer.  They played to perfection, as nimble and smooth as ballet dancers.  They seemed to own the game so effortlessly.  Catfish Hunter. Rollie Fingers. Vida Blue ... a string of legends. 

Back up here, I turned on the radio, and those astonishing guys from no where came through in triumphal fashion.  Most of all, I think I'm happy for Billy Beane, who himself failed to fulfill his early promise as a player and moved into management, and has stuck with this club.

The lowest team payroll in baseball beating out one of the highest paid. And I hardly know their names. Some are colorful, like Coco Crisp.  Could a Hollywood agent have come up with a better name?

And now, they seem miraculously like a crushing brigade of unstoppable miracle hitters and pitchers.

I'm renting the movie Money Ball again.  It's a great film.

A great day in Oakland. A great day for baseball.


David Carlyon said...


I'm a nomadic fan, soemtimes fair-weatherish. My first team, as a young boy, was the Kansas City A's. When my family moved to Michigan, I moved to the Detroit Tigers (though my older sister still calls me a traitor for switching so easily). That made for some tough rooting but also great excitement in '68, when the Tigers came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the World Series.

Then in the Army outside Philadelphia, I picked up my first National League team, the Phillies. This time I wasn't fair-weather, I was a foul-weather fan, as the Phillies were terrible, worst in baseball, winning only 59 games all season, though Steve Carlton won an astounding 27 of them. And so I followed them till they won with World Series.

Later, with my sister in the Bay Area and rooting for the Oakland A's, I moved there too, and rooted for them too. The Tigers were still my team but I enjoyed the great nicknamed A's — Rollie, Catfish, Vida. And I continued to follow them.

And now, it's my Tigers against sorta my A's. Your A's. Everyone's A's. What a great comeback. What a great story.

So, GO TIGERS! And go a's. and GO baseball!

David Carlyon

Showbiz David said...

Hi David ..

A "fowl weather fan" -- HaHa!

The excitement and satisfaction for me was that, for the only time in my life, through the A's, listening to them on the radio, I came to understand how fans can become so addicted to the pleasure and frustration of following a team.

If they win the World Series, I will likely weep.