Curious Contradictions and Contrasts in Sports

 

"Nutshell Summaries"

“Nutshell Summaries”

 

Curious Contradictions and Contrasts in Sports

  1. Now that football is becoming more conscious of the need to reduce the risk of concussions for the sake of saving more players from the kind of brain damage that leads to both earth deaths and uglier old age issues, the attraction-object of boxing remains for fighters to inflict concussions upon their opponents that are strong enough to produce dramatic states of unconsciousness for the thrill of the ticket-paying public.
  2. In 2016, outfielder Colby Rasmus will receive $15.8 million dollars from the Houston Astros after hitting .238 and 25 HR for the same club in 2015. In 1931, future Hall of Fame outfielder Goose Goslin hit .328 with 24 HR for the St. Louis Browns. Goslin was the best paid player on the ’31 Browns, raking in $13,000 for his efforts.
  3. Prior to World War II, young MLB-potential baseball players usually worked their ways up through several levels of whole season play before they reached the major leagues. By the time most of the qualified MLB rookies reached the big time, they brought with them a strong fundamental grasp of base-running, fielding, and situational hitting. That began to change steadily in the first two decades that followed World War II. As baseball encountered greater competition for the leisure dollar from other diversions, and as baseball found itself in direct competition with professional football and basketball for the best athletes, baseball had to accelerate the time table for young players reaching the majors to remain in competition with for the best athletes – and because the pool of major league qualified material was shrinking in the face of competition. By the 1970s, the rate of MLB ascendancy by players was fairly impossible. Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, the change is impossible to miss. Unfortunately, the major consequence of this change is that most young players today reach MLB with a much weaker understanding of all the routine fundamental knowledge we once expected of all big leaders. It has changed the way the game is played. Sadly too, it has reduced the quality of play we once expected. – Not to mention the biggest driving wheel in this “speed up” move of prospects to the majors would be remiss. Once the reserve clause lost out to free agency and the growth of a powerful player’s union, clubs felt the increased pressure to get their investment working as a dividend before they lost them to another team. Of course, good young prospects were going to get a quicker move to MLB. Their minor league timenow  would become as much an audition time as it once had been a training ground.
  4. Changes in the culture have changed the ambient joy possibility that many of us once derived from the virtually meditative experience of sitting at the ballpark and just taking in the sensory sights, sounds, and smells of the game. And these often included the presence of a hip organist whose skill at the keyboard furnished us with a game soundtrack of foul balls rolling up and down the screen behind home plate. Today the management position seems to be that it is necessary to fill in all of the lull moments with loud rap and rock music, costume character races, and an army of young ladies in shorts who skillfully shoot tee shirts into the stands. The premise of these activities seems to be that they are necessary for the sake of keeping fans from growing so bored at the game that they never come back. I think these ideas are dead wrong, but I also concede that my age and embraced enjoyment of the game date back to the time in which being at the game, the game itself, hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, and cornball habits of being one of the 10,000 or so scorecard keepers were all thrill enough.
  5. Today in baseball, teams and players can’t seem to give away enough baseballs to fans – and way beyond the numbers that leave the ballpark as foul balls and home runs. Not so in the old days. Back in the 1930s, the St. Louis Browns even posted employees in the stands at Sportsman’s Park to retrieve those foul balls for the low-budget Browns future game use.
  6. Although there is no research proof to suggest that changes in the baseball culture since the 1920s have done anything significant to improve the life of fidelity among married players today, it does seem logical that those early times of train travel and all day games did provide baseball players with more time for bonding, conniving, and free night-time for so inclined married players to explore all possibilities. In fact, in Sal Maglie’s bio, former St. Louis Brown and Boston Red Sox shortstop is mentioned for his own working definition of marital fidelity among the big leaguers of the early post-World War II years: “Fidelity is when a married player doesn’t (get with) another woman who lives in the same town as his wife.” So much for Norman Rockwell’s idyllic view of the good old days.
  7. Babe Ruth is noted for all night drinking binges that eventually led him to hit in at least one early next day game in which he was most probably still under the influence of alcohol at game time, but suffering his way into that state of withdrawal we commonly reference as a “hangover.” And, of course, as iconic legends are prone to do, Ruth blasted a long home run on his first time at bat. I’ve forever thought that it probably too wasn’t the only time that happened. The man was baseball’s Godzilla even long before the Japanese came up such an unstoppable monster. – Paul Waner was another prodigious drinker. (I don’t make diagnoses over the Internet.) One time, Paul’s usually high .300 batting average was falling toward the sub-.300 territory after a short period of sobriety and early bedtime when his manager allegedly told him to stay out all night drinking before the next games. Waner supposedly did as he was told, coming in the next day after dawn, and then going out there the next day and whacking out three or four ridiculously hard hits on his way back to the bottle and the high .300 hitting territory that was his norm. Life is an often curious flow of logical contradictions, but don’t bet the ranch on your chances of finding out that alcohol is also your best pal on the road to success.

That’s it for now. – Hope to see some of you at tonight’s (1/21/16) Sugar Land Skeeters winter baseball banquet!

____________________

eagle

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4 Responses to “Curious Contradictions and Contrasts in Sports”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    Your reference to “the presence of a hip organist” reminded me of a story told by Vin Scully about an organist in Philadelphia–I think it was. A pitched ball in the dirt bounced up and hit the catcher in the nether regions that left him crumpled behind home plate, and a moment later the organist struck up “On The Street Where You Live.”

    Today outfield play is the worst. It used to be that an outfielder would run in on a low hit ball with his glove up or down to make a shoestring catch or trap a one-hopper and if he got there late the ball would hit the ground and bounce off his chest–all the while keeping the ball in front of him.

    Now outfielders run in, fall down, slide and try to catch or trap the ball. Logic would suggest that if you kept running instead of falling down you could get to the ball quicker and make an easier catch.

    And this is not to mention the folly of going head-first into any base: broken fingers, getting spiked or over-sliding the bag. Diving into first base is just as dangerous and shows a lack of understanding of physics and de-acceleration.

    I also hate constant noise betwen innings.

  2. Cliff Blau Says:

    On #3- Before WWII, players had about 400 games minor league experience prior to their first major league game. After WWII, it was the same.

    As for Tom’s comment above, sliding head first is much safer than sliding feet first. Just ask Pedro Guerrero.

    • Tom Hunter Says:

      With all due respect, I think Pedro Guerrero is a bad example; he was aggressive on the bases, but not good at sliding. And if a throw is coming into third base from right field and the runner makes a feet-first pop-up slide, there’s a chance he can obscure the third baseman’s view of the ball. No so with a head-first slide; the third baseman has a clear view of the ball coming in and can easily apply the tag on the runner who is flat on the ground.

  3. stanfromtacoma Says:

    One of the things I remember fondly was sitting in the stands way before game time and watching the players take infield and the outfielders throwing to either home plate or second or third base. Now the players aren’t on the field very much before the game. I gather they are at an indoor batting cage or lifting weights or otherwise occupied off the field.

    When I was 14 or so I remember going to see the Cardinals play the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. I was old enough to be aware there was a fellow I should remember who was on the Cardinal roster. Stan Musial was not in the lineup that day but he was all over the field before the game. I watched him like a hawk. Because of that I can not only see him in my mind’s eye but I can see a ballpark that no longer exists.

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