“I disliked the All Star Game before it meant something (like most of my life). Now that it ‘means’ something I both hate it and think it is useless.” ~ our friend Jay
Who hates a vacation? Our friend, Jay.
Baseball is a 162-game, six-month undertaking. (Eight months, if you count spring training and if you are good enough to make it to the post-season.)
Tucked into that stretch is a four-day break that includes the All Star Game. That little baseball vacation begins Monday.
Our friend Jay is a Red Sox fan. He hates the All Star Game because it temporarily stops the “real” baseball season. But, he does have lots of very good qualities, too.
I am pretty sure that I am a baseball fan because of him. I sat next to him at the very first major league game I attended. It was some 25 years ago.
I have been pestering him with baseball questions ever since.
He always responds. Patiently. Kindly. Wisely. (If you ask him how to throw a screwball, he will provide detailed instructions. If you ask about baseball broadcasters he will rate nearly every one. The Red Sox broadcasters are ranked quite highly, incidentally.)
Jay plays. Jay watches. Jay knows a lot about baseball.
Occasionally my questions stir him up.
Like when I asked about the All Star Game.
For me, I like the mini-vacation. I like watching the All Stars (especially when five of them are Orioles). It’s a long season; I don’t begrudge the players a tiny break at this mid-way point.
But, Jay thinks …
Well, here, he’ll tell you …
Baseball is an endurance contest — 162 games in six months. And then, in the middle of that we give players (making $16 million or even a paltry $1 million) four days off to go fishing and rest up? What’s that all about?
The greatest thing about baseball is that they play every day (and sometimes twice — in what other sport do they say ‘Let’s play two’?) But, no, the All Star Game says, “We pause from this important season to bring you this unimportant game.” (And, no, having it determine home-field advantage does not mean this is for real. If it was for real Clayton Kershaw would pitch seven innings.)
The touchstones for me for baseball are the “Morning Question” – how did the Sox do last night? – and the “Afternoon Question” – who is pitching tonight? I look for the box scores in the paper every day. How many games up (or behind) are we? … All winter I wait for baseball season to start so I can go through my daily baseball rituals — and then in the middle of July they stop it.
[Former Red Sox] Manny Ramirez’s grandmother used to “die” each year at All Star time so Manny could go home to grieve with the family. My attitude is like Manny’s Granny’s – “Who cares about the All Star Game? Nothing important is happening so I might as well die again this year.”
The best thing about baseball is that there is a game every day, so let’s play. (That is why I hate days off, rain outs, and All Star Games.)
These are just the highlights. Jaylights.
But, I’m feeling sort of bad that Jay will have to endure the next four days without baseball while the rest of us are watching the Home Run Derby (Monday) and the All Star Game (Tuesday).
So, here are some things that can pass the time until the season begins again on Friday:
1) Watch NY Giants Pitcher Carl Hubbard strike out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmy Foxx in order. It was 1934 at the Polo Grounds. It was the All Star Game. Watch it here.
Or, watch Babe Ruth hit the very first homerun in the very first All Star Game in 1933. Watch here.
2) Explore the arts. Mike Carmichael of Alexandria, Indiana has been painting a baseball – coat by coat – since 1977. The baseball now has more than 23,000 layers of paint and weighs more than 4,000 pounds. If you visit, he’ll let you paint a layer on the ball. See it here.
Perhaps the baseball in your garage is artwork in the making.
3) Learn a second language. Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth speaks fluent Spanish, allowing him to chat easily with his Latin American teammates and give interviews to the Spanish-speaking press. While most foreign-born players must learn some English to get by in the game, very few American players take the time to learn their teammates’ languages. Nate es maravilloso. Click aquí.
4) If you can’t watch baseball, play it. In Nicaragua, baseball is El Deporte Rey, the king of sports. NPR’s Only A Game recently had a story about a camp in Nicaragua that allows boys and girls a chance to slip away from the hard realities of poverty for a week of baseball. “[T]his chance to play on a real field coached by a real professional will make a beautiful memory. And even in wealthy countries, beautiful memories aren’t easy to come by.” Listen here.
Jay is my baseball guru (except for that Red Sox thing). He has a blog too. Although he only updates it when he goes to baseball camp each winter. He should keep it up year-round. Visit it here and pester him to write more.
Enjoy the All Star Game (or not). “Real” baseball resumes on Friday.