Baseball Withdrawal

For most fans of the Pinstripes, the season ended with the execution of “Murderers Row and Cano” by the unsoiled hand of that Yankee cast-off, that balladeer of the curveball, Mr. Congeniality, Kenny Rogers. Some of the die-hards, deeply stung and still deeply stunned, hung on through the ALCS sweep. They received a morsel of consolation from Rogers’ pine tar palm incident, rationalizing vaguely that their beloved Bombers were most likely the victim of some similar illegal chicanery from the pitcher’s mound. But Captain Jeter straightened out that misguided thinking when he stated loud and clear that their loss to the Tigers was no slight of hand trick, that his ‘team’ was just outplayed, plain and simple. At this point, more of the faithful let go and climbed aboard the Spring Training transport to the Hot Stove League. Already there was talk of what to do with A-Rod and with Sheffield and would George’s Cash-man have enough savvy to reel in the big fish from Japan. (Forget pronouncing his name, I can’t even begin to spell it.) Heaven knows, Godzilla could use the companionship and the Yanks could certainly use the young but seasoned arm. So now, those only truly addicted to The Game remained. And we were treated to one of the better ‘David meets Goliath’ shows as orchestrated by one of the better managerial choreographers in Mr. La Russo, of course. I would like to meet the man (Tiger fans excluded) who would not or could not root for Little David Eckstein, the 5’ 7” Everyman. That naysayer would be a man without a soul, or a Met fan. And then, before we could say Jeff bleepin’ Weaver, the 2006 version of the Show of Shows was officially over. Only the uncorking and the pouring and the shaking and the spraying of the champagne remained. Two questions here: (1) does anyone ever drink the celebratory bubbly anymore or do they just waste it? (2) were the Cardinals really wearing protective goggles during the spraying? So who had the job of handing out the goggles to the jubilant Redbirds as they swooped into the locker room. I can hear the goggle-distributor now: “Okay, World Series Champions, please calm down and get in line. After you are handed your WS Champions tacky tee shirt and your matching Nascar look-a-like cap and your quart of spraying champagne, follow the man in front of you to the goggle distribution center where the receiving line forms to the left. For your convenience, one size fits all, except for the extra large band size for Albert Pujols who is still on the field taking credit for your victory. And please remember, all millionaires acting like adolescents in a food fight, the goggles must be worn as stipulated in your contracts. Without the goggles fully protecting the eyes during the spray-a-thon, The Busch Family/Cardinal organization can not be held liable if you shoot your eye out. Now go enjoy and, happy spraying!” I’ve digressed. I apologize. It’s a sad thing when a Yankee/ baseball fan has to dissect the post game WS celebration of a National league team that won 83 regular season games in order to keep the recently ended baseball season just a little bit alive. But then again, they were wearing goggles!! Transitioning from disappointment, others are now immersed and engorged with the NFL while some others in New Jersey are enthralled by the surprise charge of The Scarlet Knights. And still others are enticed with basketball burgeoning in all its forms, NBA included. Theirs’ is the cross addiction of many playing fields. Mine is the malady solely concerned with the diamond dust and emerald glow between ivory chalked foul lines. It is a little painful, this detoxification process, but mostly it is bittersweet. Because it is necessary…for balance, for perspective, for beginnings and for endings… for living. Yesterday, I walked with my hound around the baseball field at the neighborhood park. The dry, brown, crinkly leaves, mostly oak, scattered about with the late afternoon breeze and scuttled across the lonely skin infield. No boys were playing. No baseball games again ‘til April.

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