Wednesday, May 20, 2009

George Brett's rant; And a reader tells us why baseball is The Game?

Enjoying George Brett's rant today and the fallout. Page after page of comments in the Star on-line. Oddly, none were racist -- a first for Star comments -- and only a few went MU/KU silly. (I haven't finished all eight pages of Jason Whitlock's comments, so these anomalies may have changed this afternoon.)

Brett's meltdown was damn refreshing, if you ask me. His language was even more refreshing. Remember, this is a guy who spit tobacco juice on the floor the day he and his wife inspected the work on the new nursery in his home. Can't remember if the floor was finished or not. I have a book of great photographs of baseball players by Walter Iooss and the Brett entry is Ty Cobb gritty. I don't want to know Brett as a civilian; I've always found it was better not to meet ballplayers or musicians lest my images dissolve. I want to know Brett as a gamer who would look a reporter in the eye and say, (Henry suggests we handle it this way in "The Southpaw" though he admits it will do no good since we will all know what goes in the blanks...) F--- You. Reporters, by the way, are quick to say the same to each other.

But, Brett said something fresh which needed to be said. Those self-important, self-righteous, talking heads need to be called out. Not just about Hillman, by the way. If you spend your afternoon listening to their self-serving rants, you have too much time on your hands. Get a bat and your buddy and go have some BP.

Brett said something profoundly true once: The game is easier the farther you get from the dirt.

Now, here is a fine response to our posts on "Bang the Drum Slowly" from reader Kevin Kuzma. By the way, I did try to teach him to use paragraphs. -- Lofflin


For me, the answer is because baseball is fun to play. I played every sport from third grade on, but I never enjoyed playing any of them like I did baseball. I can still remember stepping up to the plate and listening to my parents and my friends’ parents shouting encouragement while the rival team’s managers were yelling words against me and the infield was chattering. Baseball is a team sport and yet, it’s individual, too. When you step in the batter’s box, the weight is on you. You can look ridiculous at bat or in the field. And the game moves slower, so you have to face whatever it is that doesn’t go your way. I could never be a pitcher. Other than a boxer knocked to the mat, I don’t have empathy for anyone more so than a pitcher who’s seen his best pitch branded by a bat label and walloped over the fence. He has to stand there and listen to the crowd and watch the batter round the bases, then pull himself together on the lonely mound and throw strikes again. Strikes, not balls. Right back to the quest for perfection. Baseball has everything boys want. You get to play in the dirt, foremost. You get to take big swings and hit things. You get to run. You get to spit. You get to slide. I suppose you could make an argument that you can do the same in football or another sport, but I suppose it’s hard to romanticize something so violent. Football comes around when everything about the world is dying or turning cold. Winter is coming on. Hope doesn’t have a position. There are so many individual wars on given play you can’t possibly take in the whole game. Basketball is played indoors and by that arrangement the possibilities of it being something larger are impossible, also given the fact that it was invented to give football players something to do in the off season. I used to love baseball. I used to love the uniforms. The stirrups, the batter’s helmets, the batter’s glove. It was sort of a costume that you put on and you went out and played games for the optimist club, a gas station or an auto repair shop. People who paid real money to sponsor your team and you really wanted to win for those people. Baseball is a spectacle. When you hit a long shot, people stop and watch the ball fly. I’m not sure people look at the sky any more – not to see what’s in it, other than the weather. No one studies it, except kids and adults who look through it, trying to make predictions. My favorite part of baseball was the conversations that went on with the base coaches. That was your reward for a decent hit. There was a face waiting for you. How different does it feel to stand on second? You feel naked out there, far from the dug out, stranded, waiting. I don’t know. I think it’s fun. Fun is the answer. And it’s fun to write about. Look all the words it prompted from me.

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