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My wife and I are usually on vacation around this time. March has ended and, so too, the basketball season. May offers up the high school baseball playoffs – leagues and districts. April is normally the perfect time to get away. I get to spend more time at home and we get to enjoy some quality time together. It is also the perfect time to bring in a guest blogger.
Well, my wife and I are NOT vacationing quite yet due to you know what, and we may be overdoing the “quality time” a bit for the same reason, but, like other Aprils, there is a guest blogger ready to unload and vent.
John Leone helps me out every year with a “Guest Blog” while I am away. He volunteered to do it again because he wanted to get something off his chest. Who am I to deprive him of the opportunity? In the interest of John’s mental health, here is his blog:
Baseball is back and we are thrilled, right? Ahhh, the sights and sounds of spring. The crack of the bat and the chatter of vendors creatively barking out the irresistible lure of their wares. I was feeling great – until about the third inning of the second game.
Everything was green again and hope sprang eternal, as they say. Well, almost and for only some. You see, I am a Pittsburgh Pirate fan – hopelessly and forever attached to a small market team, a bond formed many, many years ago and well before I was old enough to know better.
So what is wrong with baseball? Where to begin! Full disclosure – I absolutely love the game. And I always will. But my devotion to a team that needs to – almost literally- catch lightning in a bottle to win in the long run, tests the limits of my loyalty.
As baseball injects itself – misguidedly, I believe – into politics, the irony is unmistakable.
Talk about an income gap! The rich get richer and the poor get another top-of-the-first-round-draft pick – a bonus baby who will take an average of five years to make it to the majors. And only then, the rising star will have a brief stay in Pittsburgh (or a similar city) to further hone his skills. When he is at his major league-ready optimum, he’ll invariably sign with New York (or a similar franchise).
Joe Musgrove pitched a no-hitter for San Diego last night, adding insult to injury once again for fans of The Bucs. He should still be in Pittsburgh. Major League Baseball is peppered with names of others like him – all now with big market contenders, purchased or “pirated” from the likes of The Tigers, The Reds, The Orioles, The Mariners, and so on.
I’m not talking about engineering equality of outcomes. This is purely about creating equality of opportunity. Whatever the issues are with the NFL, they’ve gotten one thing right. Salary caps and rules that level the competitive field seem to be working. I have no idea whether those in the front office of The Pirates know what they’re doing or not. How could I? Their resources limit them to acting as a mere developmental program for teams with deeper pockets and a willing ownership.
The debate continues. I’ve even heard the ridiculous suggestion that franchises from smaller markets be eliminated! So much for “The National Pastime”!! Then again, cancelling things seems to have permeated the culture to a disturbing degree these days. I’d rather fix things. But let’s not go there now.
To be sure, the game has evolved and on the whole, probably for the better. But I’m reminded of baseball’s lovable Cub, the great Ernie Banks, who once famously said, “It’s a beautiful day, let’s play two.” Doubleheaders are largely a thing of those forgone days, but for those of us caught in the quagmire of fandom for a small market team, “make mine a double” is probably more apropos.
So, set ‘em up, Joe. First pitch is at 6:35pm tonight at PNC Park and, woe is me, I’ll be tuned in.
I hope John feels better!!
ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
- Even though it was April and even though there were about 12,000 fewer fans in the stands, and even though I had to announce the game from the RCN-TV studio, the 156th Lafayette–Lehigh rivalry game was still played at the highest level, generating the same kind of on-field intensity. I commend both head coaches, their staffs, and the players for their effort to make it feel like November. Lafayette won 20-13 as the game appropriately was not decided until the final play. It felt really good to be a part of this rivalry once again, even remotely.
- It was certainly an exciting day for Japan on Sunday when Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters to become the first Japanese male to do so. However, as a spectator, I did not find yesterday scintillating television. No one made a move to create great interest and tension. It all came to an end when Xander Schauffle hit his ball into the water and triple-bogeyed the 16th. The finish was guaranteed at that point.
- The Phillies looked more like the Phillies this week – bullpen problems and defensive gaffes had them lose two straight and go 0-2 away from home. They were 5-1 at home to start the season. Anxious to see if they are still in first place after this week.
- Speaking of 1st place, the 76ers are currently tied with the Brooklyn Nets in the Atlantic Division. The two teams play this week and both Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid are back from injuries. I may just turn my attention to the NBA.
- Our golf league started this week and it felt great to tee it up and hit the ball – a bit too often for my liking, however. Don’t call me after 4:30pm on Wednesdays. I’m busy trying to save a double bogey!