Archive for Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Back in the day, game played right

July 23, 2008

Normally I control the TV and radio during the major league baseball All-

Star Game, but this year my wife, Dolores, had the TV tuned in to the game while I was listening to my audio books about Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

My wife had a personal interest in the game because this could be the last chance to see the old Yankee Stadium, the house that Babe Ruth built, as they are going to replace the stadium next year. She had some fond memories of Yankee Stadium because her father was a die-hard Yankee fan. Living not too far from the stadium, they took in many games. Her father was one of the more fortunate Yankee fans because he was able to get a home-run ball hit by the Babe, which he treasured.

My father-in-law, back in his younger days, was an accomplished player who got a tryout for the Brooklyn Dodgers' farm team. He never followed up on the opportunity because he said there was not enough pay involved. However, my mother-inlaw disputed that excuse - she said he just didn't want to leave home.

My father-in-law came close to getting me in trouble with the U.S. Navy after our marriage. We were married late in August and I was due back after our honeymoon on a Monday. Back in those days different bars put together teams and normally played for a case of beer or two. My father-in-law had a game scheduled with his team on the day I was to report back to the Naval station in Brunswick, Maine. He asked me to stay and play in their game, but at first I declined and he said coming off your honeymoon the Navy would not discipline you in any way. The game did sound like fun so I decided to stay and play. He bragged me up far more than my ability but he turned out to be the star of the game with his heavy hitting. He played flawless at shortstop. and I did manage to hit pretty well so we won the game. The good Lord was looking after me the day I reported back to the Air Station because essentially I was AWOL, but it just happened that the officer of the day at the gate was my officer and he let me by with no problem.

Back to the All-Star Game. I was being read to about players that in my opinion were much better than the ones playing in the All-Star Game. It is an age-old argument comparing players in the early years of baseball with all the multimillion dollar players of today. The old timers played with more heart and didn't need the help of steroids or drugs to make them better. I still believe this big money is what eventually will ruin sports in modern times. Babe Ruth had a reputation of being a heavy beer drinker and staying out late, but you never heard about him using any form of enhancing drugs. To me the steroid era put a big blemish on America's favorite pastime baseball. How can players be proud of records they set due to the use of steroids and drugs, and in one case, a bat full of cork. It's difficult to compare Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays and many more with Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens and many more that we don't know about. Baseball needs to clean up its act to be worthy of the reputation as America's favorite pastime. The worst part is these players that are accused of using drugs and steroids are basically good athletes and could possibly still break all these records without steroids or other drugs.

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