For many of us, sport has provided the continuity in our lives, the alternative family to the one we left behind. It gives us something to talk about, to preen about, to care about.
One of the first lessons he or she learns is that in baseball anything, absolutely anything, can happen. Just two days ago as I write this, something happened that had never happened in baseball before.
Donning a glove for a backyard toss, or watching a ball game, or just reflecting upon our baseball days, we are players again, forever young.
I think that much of this was running in background as I contemplated whether or not to attend the PS 99 reunion, although I certainly anticipated that I would not; it smelled like death, not youth.
But the citizens of Cincinnati loved their Reds because they won, no matter what their addresses had been the year before. They rooted for the Old-English ‘C’ on the players’ shirts.
The caliber of play suffered and attendance declined year by year. Interest in college football was exploding, and there was this new game called basketball.
Better than anything else in our culture, it enables fathers and sons to speak on a level playing field while building up from within a personal history of shared experience – a group history – that may be tapped into at will in years to come.
Do we settle on a regional team because we can go to its ballpark and see its games on television? Or do we choose a team as our favorite because it has an especially appealing player, a Barry Bonds or an Ichiro?
In over 160 years of recorded baseball history, no team had ever won a championship this way.
And then came the nineties, when management, suddenly frightened that they had ceded control to the players, sought to restore baseball’s profitability by ‘running the game like a business.’