ASG: Hasn’t Seemed Like Old Times in Long Time

July 12, 1955: County Stadium, Milwaukee. Stan Musial’s lead off HR in the bottom of the 12th caps the Nationals’ exciting comeback 6-5 win over the Americans in the annual MLB All Star Game. Even over the radio from the produce truck I was unloading that day, you could feel the pride and excitement of the NL players for having battled back from an 0-5 hole, late in the game.

Maybe it’s just me at my age, but I feel little excitement over the upcoming 83rd Annual All Star Game to be played at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City this coming Tuesday night, July 10, 2012. Compared to 1955, when I was working as part of a crew at the old A&P grocery store at Lawndale near 75th in Houston, and we were busy unloading a large produce shipment from the docking bay, and we were listening to the blare of a radio we had blasting away in the area at the time Mr. Musial put a wrap on things, I’ll get to watch this 2012 game on a giant screen HD color television set in the evening from my favorite chair, of course, but it still doesn’t bear the excitement for me that the 1955 game did, and that rush came over me from days in advance of the first pitch.

Other than the bookend facts that I was 17 then and I’m 74 now, what else has changed in the past 57 years?

How about – “just about everything” – as an answer. Some things have changed for the good. Some have moved for the  bad. And some are just changes in the direction of  different from before. Certainly our advances against racism and sexism are for the very good, even if we still have a lot of ground to cover in our social acceptance of people who are different from us. From an American standpoint, and based upon my meager grasp of how economics work, it seems bad to me that we no longer are the manufacturing force we once were – and it does bother me that we owe so much money to China and other nations that we now pass forward to the backs of our children as our national debt – and maybe that doesn’t matter but … When people tell me that our national debt doesn’t really bother them, it makes me wonder how they handle their personal debts, and that starts me on the road to theorizing that the way we handle our personal debts has to be either tied to our national as either a cause or a result of our national “slap it on the card” mentality.

What do I know. I’m no economist. All I know is – we’ve gotten by OK for years on a very simple financial approach: (1) If you buy it, pay cash; and (2) If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it. – Other than our house and cars, we have stayed away from mortgages and loans. Now those things are paid for – and we are debt free.

The differences between 1955 and 2012 all seem driven by our advances in technology, especially in the areas of electronics and medicine. There’s probably some good, bad, and neutral in each area of “advancement” we can list, from the Internet to medicines that prolong life. i.e., as in “We have better communication ability today, but at what human expense – and toward what aim? So our kids can learn to text while they are at either the ball game or the symphony? So the distractible art of apps class can get rich and rule the world?”

And what about prolonging life through new medicines and treatments? “What for? So we can extend our availability as consumers? Where is the gain of extending life without improvement added to the beneficiary’s qualitative experience of life? Look! Watching Days of Our Lives or the entire 162-game annual televised schedule of the Houston Astros can only take us so far – and anything we can do without ever leaving the couch is of questionable health value to those with the potential for more.”

Somehow, this new expanded communication web that we have woven has made its own contribution to our lesser interest in the annual baseball all star game. And this mellowing has also been helped by all the recent erasures of distinction between the American and National Leagues. The individual league offices and presidents are gone; the differently endorsed league balls are gone; and even the separate league umpiring crews have been dissolved in favor of the generic MLB brand that operates directly under Commissioner Bud Selig.

Oh sure, the DH rule remains as the big difference between the AL and the NL, but it remains there, not as a permanent symbol of difference, but as Bud Selig’s seal club on the NL’s holdout from accepting the designated hitter rule too. Someday, when the NL finds itself in a position that Jim Crane and Astros found themselves in at the point of sale, when the NL wants to achieve or avoid some end that we cannot even see today, Bud Selig, or his like-minded successor,  will pull out this deal: “You may have what you want, NL, but you will have to accept the DH rule to get what you want. So, how important is this issue to you?”

In 1955, we fans really believed that the NL and the AL were two different animals that really cared about beating each other in the All Star Game. That’s no longer true. We have too much ongoing information, misinformation, and disinformation going on  today to believe that blindly in anything. And what about the generations of our children and grandchildren? They have grown up with even less of that old league-allegiance gene. I shiver to consider the obvious.

It cannot seem like old times today because those times are gone. Today, more than ever, we all need to be proactive in deciding and choosing what we want from life beyond the steam of our own passions and wistful ambitions. Otherwise, we shall all get swept down a relentless river of constantly rehashed new electronic information that only stops long enough for those floaters who choose to make credit card purchases before the current starts back up again.

Enjoy the 2012 All Star Game, folks. – And “Go Nationals.”

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2 Responses to “ASG: Hasn’t Seemed Like Old Times in Long Time”

  1. materene Says:

    Your assessment of our life is spot on, especially the pay cash theory. I guess the thing I miss most is listening to Paul Harvey and his afternoon commentary. ;0)

  2. Bob Hulsey Says:

    The irony of our age is that we are more connected and more isolated than ever.

    At my church, I sit at the back as an usher and I watch so many who during the service are checking their e-mails, texting, flipping through their iPads and sipping the coffee our church graciously provides that it makes me wonder how they can pay attention to the sermon or devotedly worship the God they choose to attend church for. Sometimes, I just want to yell “Turn that thing off and pay attention!” but this is a church service, after all, and one does not dare invade the solemnity of the occasion without looking like a hypocrite.

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