For the Love of the Game

By Lloyd Graff

The late Harry Carray singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

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?

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6 thoughts on “For the Love of the Game

  1. Jack

    Too slow? Not for me but maybe my wife. We went to a Brewers game a number of years back. Sitting there and she asks, when is the game going to start. If I remember correctly it was in the 2nd inning.

  2. Jeff Adamson

    I love baseball. I had the privilege of watching my older son play Little League through High School and loved every minute of every game. My wife and my two sons go see a Yankee game every summer. We’ve charted every game we have been to and will chart every game we will go to. That score book will be a gift to the boys when I am no longer able to go to the games. Hopefully, they will continue the tradition. I don’t find the games slow at all, I enjoy the action and the game strategies used by the opposing managers.

  3. ed kays

    I was a big baseball fan prior to the strike. After the strike I didn’t follow much until the last 2 years. Baseball has returned to KC which has the best fans in baseball. Go to a game at the “K” and you will feel the electricity. As far as it being slow, it is a great way to pack 5 minutes excitement into 3 hours.

  4. Lloyd Graff

    Wouldn’t a Kansas City vs St. Louis World Series be fabulous?

    They are the two best teams this year. Both teams have great fans. Both have unbelievable bullpens and superb defensive catchers, and can really catch the ball. Kansas City getting Johnny Cueto from the Reds was a coup. I love Kolton Wong on the Cardinals. He may be the best second baseman in the game now.

  5. Art Santana

    Great article Lloyd; for some of us, NEVER too slow. Unfortunately for today’s instant gratification society; way too slow. Every kid is playing soccer and football now days while baseball fields sit idle. Oh, well; it is what it is and I am sure strikes, bloated salaries, drugs (cocaine in the 80’s, roids in the 90’s and 2000’s ) have indeed damaged our beautiful game beyond repair. I am a life long Dodger fan and will always bleed blue but I am not too happy with what goes on with spending there today. But I still follow them faithfully on a daily basis 1500 miles away.

  6. Ben

    Baseball is a game of mystery to most people that didn’t grow up and learn from
    adults that either were fans or played. Sometimes the pace in today’s games lag a bit, but if you understand the pitcher, catcher strategy and batters calculating the next pitch, the time invested is well worth the three or so hours that take your mind off other matters.


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