I love sports. Unfortunately, my vision problems caused by retinal detachments over the last 13 years have curtailed my ability to play many of my favorite sports, but I still get to watch them on TV.
This year I have renewed my lifelong passion for baseball. My team, the Chicago Cubs, is playing reasonably well going into August and I am as excited to watch them as I ever have been. I scour the internet for trade rumors and search for places to catch the games on TV when I am traveling. Basically, I live my life around the Cubbies these days.
I know I’m crazy, but this team, my love of the game, a lifetime of studying strategy and watching players come and go, has given me enormous pleasure. I literally stand up and sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the seventh inning with the Cubs faithful during home games while watching TV in my family room.
When I was about to be wheeled into the operating room seven years ago for open heart surgery my wife and kids sang the song to me for encouragement, and it helped bring the right karma to us all.
I know many people think baseball is boring and slow. It’s popularity probably has ebbed in America, especially with kids with the rise of basketball and soccer, but for me, it will always be number one. In my mind the game has been rejuvenated by the great young players who have recently come into the Major Leagues. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgartner, and Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs are all in their early to mid twenties. Each is a potential Hall of Fame player, without the extra boost of steroids.
The game has finally moved past the spectre of “batter living through chemistry” and is greater for it. Personally, I was never as upset as most fans of the game were about the use of “performance enhancing drugs.” I think players like Barry Bonds were amazing with or without the roids, and Bonds in particular should be in the Hall of Fame by now. But I am hopeful that most of the drugs are now out of the game, and the focus is now on the pennant races and less on the home run totals.
Guys like Trout and Harper are as talented as any players I’ve ever seen play, and they are 23 and 22 years old respectively.
The only thing I wish for in baseball is a little more hitting. Pitching has ascended in the post steroid era, as the 95 mile per hour fastball has become common and young fire ballers have figured out how to change speeds to compliment their power pitches. Also the use of sophisticated statistics has led to radically shifted infields which have certainly cut down on ground ball hits. Scoring is down significantly in the game. The stress on power arms in the bullpen has changed the game, too, which the Kansas City Royals demonstrated brilliantly in last year’s playoffs.
But the game will adjust. It always has. It is an axiom of baseball, that it is a “game of adjustments.” Pitchers find a batter’s weakness, the batter suffers, but if he is smart and talented he learns how to compensate for a particular deficiency. If he doesn’t he soon will be out of the game. The art of business isn’t all that different. Keep changing to adjust to the times, or pay the price. Slumps happen to the best, so the key to success is flexibility and the willingness and ability to change your game.
Go Cubs go.
Question: Is baseball too slow for you?