AbeBooks.com. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.
Feed on

On the brink

Juan Lagares. Photo courtesy of New York Post.

Juan Lagares. Photo courtesy of New York Post.

Last night’s World Series game was really a lot of fun to watch and once again showed that baseball is a great game, I believe the greatest, because it is an anticipation sport. When the Mets were clinging to their one run lead, was anybody about to leave the park or change channels? Not a damned thing was happening but by Billy Bowlegs, something would! Even after Kansas City had its great eighth inning you still didn’t know whether or not the Mets could come back and we were all sure as hell going to wait for the last pitch to find out!

Last week I had the opportunity to listen to “Casey at The Bat.” This marvelous poem, written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer in 1888, really tells what baseball is all about – anticipation. Apart from a couple of mediocrities each making a base hit, there is virtually no action in the poem until the very last line “But there is no joy in Mudville, mighty Casey has struck out”.

Think about that, this entire poem is about baseball and not a damn thing happens until the very last line and even then it was a buildup to abject failure. That said, this has been a classic over 125 years and God only knows how many versions have been spoken, put to music, and made into cartoons.

Casey at the Bat
A Ballad of the Republic, Sung in the Year 1888

The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same, A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game.

A straggling few got up to go in deep despair. The rest
Clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought if only Casey could but get a whack at that—
We’d put up even money now with Casey at the bat.

But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake,
And the former was a lulu and the latter was a cake;
So upon that stricken multitude grim melancholy sat,
For there seemed but little chance of Casey’s getting to the bat.

But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball;
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred,
There was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.

Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.

There was ease in Casey’s manner as he stepped into his place;
There was pride in Casey’s bearing and a smile on Casey’s face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat,
No stranger in the crowd could doubt ’twas Casey at the bat.

Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt;
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip,
Defiance gleamed in Casey’s eye, a sneer curled Casey’s lip.

And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air,
And Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped—
“That ain’t my style,” said Casey. “Strike one,” the umpire said.

From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar,
Like the beating of the storm-waves on a stern and distant shore.
“Kill him! Kill the umpire!” shouted some one on the stand;
And it’s likely they’d have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.

With a smile of Christian charity great Casey’s visage shone;
He stilled the rising tumult; he bade the game go on;
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, “Strike two.”

“Fraud!” cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered fraud;
But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain,
And they knew that Casey wouldn’t let that ball go by again.

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.*

Because nothing happens for so much of the time it seems necessary. in the minds of those telecasting games, to put people on microphones to entertain you. I spoke of this in my last column and last night there was a classic example of the verbal diarrhea that forever spills out onto the airwaves. And today I offer a solution.

With the Royals batting, one behind in the 8th, two on, there was a ground ball to shortstop, the ball was bobbled and a run scored. No one, especially a Royals or Mets fan watching the game needed to be told what had happened and what it meant.

The deathless revelation from the baseball expert?

“Here we are in the World Series, folks, and if you make a mistake like that, you pay!” Jesus wept! Of course you do. Whether you’re on the sandlot or in the World Series, the inviolate baseball rule is that if you fuck up, you pay!

If this was just an isolated incident I think I could handle it but it goes on for the entire game – mindless crap following mindless crap.

Now if you’re broadcasting radio, with which I have had some experience, dead air is, ah, deadly because the listener has nothing to look at to stay amused. Obviously with a baseball game that’s not so.

It’s more than just the nauseating babble, how many times do we need to see a replay of a homerun? Every possible angle, the ball bouncing around in the stands, the outfielder forlornly gazing over the fence – perhaps six times or more, turning excitement into the trivial.

Every game you see what the problem is. Last night was scarcely the first time I’ve seen this but it was still a revelation. There, in the middle of the game, all attention was turned to three, count ’em, guys in a booth all trying to get a word in edgewise.

Three! Why in the hell would what you need three people to describe something there to be seen if only they would shut up!

I’m certainly not against announcers and there have been many very good ones over the years. Some, like Red Barber and his student, Vin Scully were masters. Some, like Dizzy Dean and Harry Carey were also very entertaining. It was almost always good entertainment consistent with of the viewing of the game, not interference with it. Sometimes the announcer was part of the entertainment such as Harry Caray singing, sort of, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”

The modern supposition is that people watching baseball are quite unfamiliar with the game and not being able to understand, must be given endless irrelevant crap to hold their attention.

I realize that TSN and Fox are not the slightest bit interested in the help of someone who just loves to watch baseball however, even knowing the pay will be very thin, I offer this advice –

if nothing else get rid of one of those mouths thus reducing the shit by 1/3.

Next step, have a senior and a junior, and as with the great ones like Mel Allen, Barber and Scully, leave no doubt who’s running the show. In short, give me my baseball game back.

I think that tonight will settle the World Series – the Royals have the discipline, enough power, a good defense and a superior bullpen. I hate to see the AL win but that’s the way it looks and the “VOID” will begin, not to end until Spring training when, God willing, we’ll have our wonderful game back, sans the endless and, worse, mindless bullshit.

* This with the kind consent of our baseball loving Administrator

One Response to “On the brink”

  1. admin says:

    I lucked out for the past two games; I got a video feed with John Smoltz and Matt Vasgersian instead of the Fox crew.

Leave a Reply