Monday, December 26, 2005

The Mostest 2005--Sports

Rounding third and heading home...


know a lot of you are going to hate this. I have had people tell me personally that when they get the first inlking that its a sports post, they stop reading. Bah! Humbug! Why are there so many who are indifferent to sports? Guess I can't help that, but I do like sports and I do like talking about it.

Anyway, my Bruins petered out at the end--their 9-2 record ain't too shabby, but the too losses were doozies, particularly the last one to our hated rivals. Basketball is ho-hum and the World Series? Houston vs. Chisox? No offense, but I think the TV ratings for this series was probably the worst in history. So as far as sports goes, there wasn't too much excitement for me in 2005. Except perhaps for the one small event.

I fell in love with baseball again.

Those of you who have been reading me for awhile know this, but I was once a die hard Dodger fan. I grew up watching Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, and Don Drysdale contend for the pennant yearly in the 60s. They didn't have much hitting, but man they had pitching and defense like you wouldn't believe. And I went to games an saw with my own eyes players such as Willie Mays, Juan Marichal, Roberto Clemente, Ernie Banks, Ron Santos, Billy Williams, Frank Robinson, and Pete Rose. I even saw Murakami Masanori warm up in the bullpen once. For those of you who don't know, he was THE first Japanese national... hell, he was the first Asian to ever play Major League Baseball when he was a reliver for the Giants for a couple of years in the 60s.

But then free agency arrived. First, Curt Flood challenged the owners' rights to ball players, and although he lost in court, he opened the door for players like Andy Messerschmidt won his case a few years later and left the Dodgers after his contract expired. After that, players moved around freely, offering heir services to the highest bidder. I suppose this is the capitalistic, American way, but in my eyes, baseball died. I was not only loyal to the Dodgers, but to its players--after the 60s, there was Garvey, Lopes, Russell and Cey, an infield that played together on openning day for a record eight consecutive years. I knew every player, and was saddened when one was traded or left for free agency, but they stayed intact for the most part.

But eventually, they broke up and I couldn't recognize the team anymore. A carousel of players came and went, and when Kevin Brown came to the Dodgers and signed a contract for $7 million a year, I felt that these players lived in a world of there own, where money talks, and loyalty to fans was relative to the number of zeroes on a paycheck. I still watched baseball for the love of the game, but I did not have a team to root for... until this year.

The former Montreal Expos came to Washington DC and became the Nationals. Their manager, Frank Robinson, was old school, and I watched these guys play baseball the way I used to love watching it. They played small ball--pitching and defense. they would eek out one-run wins and played a very exciting brand of ball. I felt myself get sucked in again, and was hooked when I actually went to a game. I WENT TO A GAME! The first professional baseball game in sixteen years. And I am again hooked.

So what happens? The monkeys who run DC govt. can't agree to a site where to build their stadium. Because of all their foot-dragging and dilly dallying over revenues and taxes--things they had already agreed to--the original site has now become too expenseive to build on! And Bud Selig--the least qualified commissioner in any sport, professional or amateur--had said that it must be the original site or no site. Does this mean he will pull up stakes and shop the former Expos/Nationals to other cities? I wouldn't put it past him, because all he thinks about is what's good to the owners and their wallets--according to him, what is good for the owners is good for baseball. He puts zero emphasis on the fans, and on the game itself. Of course, this is my take, but if he takes baseball away from DC, he will have simply confirmed what I already believe. During his tenure as commisioner: baseball went on an extended strike, World Series was cancelld for the first time, the All-Star game ended in a tie, steroid use went out of control, there were threats to contract the league by dismantling teams in Minneapolis and Montreal, and the final insult, we may not have a team next year.

And still I fell in love with the game again. All it took was a hard working, scrappy team playing in my own backyard.

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