Sunday, December 18, 2016

Baseball In The Winter Of Our Discontent

I've made no secret of my love of baseball on this blog. During the baseball season it is my daily companion, the welcome distraction with its endless depth, whether it be history, statistics, or the moment of anticipation before the next pitch. A lot of people don't like baseball, and I get that. The fact that it is increasingly a niche sport only warms my contrarian heart that much more.

Right now I am sitting here at a coffee shop while my daughters are at a birthday party, staring out the window at rain falling on snow, perhaps the most dismal form of weather in existence. This time of year I usually start dreaming about baseball as a way to imagine winter melting away. As a child this was quickly fulfilled, since the new baseball cards came out in January and February. Now I will watch snatches of a "Mets Classic" on local cable or watch an old game off of YouTube. However, the local comics store has old packs of cards from my late 80s heyday, and I have a rack pack of 1988 Fleer at home waiting for the moment when my baseball anticipation can't be suppressed any longer.

This winter has me longing for the escape of baseball even harder than ever. To endure the Trumpist onslaught without my favorite and most meaningful distraction makes it all so much worse. (Then again, perhaps it's best I'm not distracted.) This year I have been having fever dreams of flying to Florida for spring training, using my wife's trip to a conference in Orlando in January as a justification. ("If she gets to go to Florida, I should too, dammit!") Yes I know I am grasping at straws, but these are tough times.

The thing I can't escape from right now is the absolute uncertainty of the future. I just don't know what Trump is going to do, I only know that it is going to be bad. This uncertainty drives me crazy some days. I am certain of the fact that once spring comes, baseball will too, and I will need it more than I ever have before. I also want baseball, in all of its traditionalist stodginess, to get political. Of the three major team sports it is the one where Latin and foreign-born players (from all over the world, not just Latin America) are the biggest stars and make the biggest impact. The quality of baseball has gone up in recent years, and it is due to the kind of people that Trump hates. Part of me wants to believe that baseball heroes can convince Trumpist baseball fans to question the coming onslaught. I know that's probably ridiculous, but I can hope.

Anyway, here are some baseball artifacts that have been giving me cheer:

White Sox and Tigers Brawl, 4-22-2000
This is a guilty pleasure in a true sense, in that I think fighting is stupid. That said, this is not a typical baseball fight, where people just sorta mill around, but a full on brawl. I remember hearing this on the radio when it happened as I was driving from Urbana back to Chicago. This White Sox team seemed to bond over the experience, and went on to win their division for the first time since 1983.

Tom Emanski Defensive Drills Video Commercial
Only $29.95 (and endorsed by Fred McGriff!)

Bartolo Colon Running Down AJ Pierzynski
Bartolo Colon proves that being old and fat does not mean you can't be a great athlete. I am so bummed that Big Sexy won't be playing for the Mets next season.

Tom Lasorda's 1988 Topps Card
Speaking of old and fat...(I kid, I kid) this card always cracks me up. 1988 Topps had a lot of lazy spring training cards, but this one really takes the cake.

Darrell Porter's 1983 Fleer Card
I miss the days when baseball players would sport big glasses and names like Darrell.

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