Vern's Verbal Vibe

Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist and purveyor of folk 'n' roll: spirit-filled sad songs made better.

May 25, 2006

The Zen of Baseball

I listen to baseball on the radio to help me wind down. I love the quirky strategy, the sleepy pace, the legend and lore, and the fact that baseball is one of the few (only?) team sports that doesn't run on a clock. Nine innings take as long as they take.

The ultimate game for stats geeks—even the most casual fan knows what 755, .406, 73, 56, and 1908* mean—baseball evokes a certain timelessness. Players, dynasties, teams and even ballparks come and go, but the game goes on forever. Spring training, the exhilaration of that early-April .600 batting average, summer's dog days, the pennant race, and finally the Fall Classic itself—all are inextricably tied to the changing of the seasons. Here in Toronto, the first time I turn on my radio and hear Jerry Howarth's "Hello, friends, and welcome to Blue Jays Baseball," I know that white stuff on my lawn is not long for this world. I love that feeling. (Though Jerry's long-time partner, the legendary Tom Cheek, is sorely missed.)

Yet, all is not peanuts (ahem) and cracker jack. One loathsome aspect of the modern game is the ubiquity of advertising. It's impossible to escape—the in-stadium experience is especially pugnacious—but I've learned to tune it out. Taping the radio broadcasts helps; I now have an intuitive grasp of just how long I should let the cassette fast-forward between innings.

Catching an intercounty game at Christie Pits is on my summer to-do list. It's free, and it'll be interesting to compare the "game day" experience with that at the Skydome. (Sorry, I'm not calling it the You-Know-What Centre. I mean, come on: monikers like "US Cellular Field" just roll off the tongue, don't they? If I were King of the World, naming a stadium after some faceless corporation would be an offence punishable by death.)

* We now present (at no additional cost to you)
  • 755 - Most career home runs, Hank Aaron (1954-1976)
  • .406 - Ted Williams' 1941 batting average (last player to hit .400 or over)
  • 73 - Most single-season home runs, Barry Bonds (2001)
  • 56 - Longest consecutive-game hitting streak, Joe DiMaggio (1941)
  • 1908 - Last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series (longest futility streak in pro sports)


Blogger EugeneOfDecency said...

What? No asterisk besides Barry? I'm afraid I can't recognize any record broken after about 1985.

When Raphiel Palmiero has close to 600 HR, something just isn't right.

So I'm sorry Vern...I will not recognize 73...nor 70 for that matter.

The benchmark is still 61. Even though he did get to play 162 games compared to the Babe's 154.

8:13 pm  
Blogger vern said...

Eugene! Long time, no hear from. How's that rash? Decent, I'm sure.

I'm staying officially neutral on the Barry scandal. Someone's gotta give the guy a break. That said, when MLB gives Barry an asterisk, I will too.

10:04 pm  

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