Baseball and the Dog Days of Summer

Well, I made my once-a-year trek to Cleveland to watch the Indians play last night. And even though they lost to Detroit, I’ll go on the record and say I enjoyed myself. Nothing better than a ballgame on a near perfect evening in the middle of summer.

And fortunately I pulled enough money out of my retirement savings account before the stock market collapse to afford a few brews. Talk about price gouging. If BP were running the concession stands I’m certain there would be some kind of congressional inquiry. I digress.

Anyway, my point is that baseball is the perfect summer game. It was designed to be slow and leisurely, without the constant frenzy of ice hockey and basketball. Or the 10-second spurt of activity in pro football — followed by a TV timeout and a series of beer commercials. Baseball, long before TV and social media, allowed people to get outside during the dog days of summer and relax and enjoy face-to-face conversation absent Twitter, text messages and so on. I get a chuckle now about how many people sit at the game glued to their smartphone, presumably letting others know where they are and what they are doing as though anyone really cares. A side note: The asshat sitting next to me dropped his BlackBerry in the top of the seventh. Not sure if he was charged with an error or not.

Folks, chill. You’re at a baseball game — not at work. You don’t have to pretend you’re busy. Oops. I digress again.

And it struck me last night that the game hasn’t changed all that much (well, OK, except for the designated hitter rule, but don’t get me started) — but the environment sure has.  Exploding graphics that make scoreboards look like a battle from Star Trek, plenty of stunts and activities to keep the crowd occupied between innings and so on. Hey, just like a classroom in any school these days at any level. Sorry, I’m drifting off message today.

As a young lad growing up in Pittsburgh (circa 1955) I spent many a day and night at Forbes Field, now defunct. You could sit in the left field bleachers for a buck — and watch the hand of a live person extend from inside the scoreboard to post balls and strikes, outs and scores from other games.

And before the ump cried “play ball,” and as the sun started to set, you got that distinct whiff of cigar smoke making its way through the stands.

Ah, the good old days.




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