Writing Pieces / Columns

What’s Wrong With Baseball According to My Father


I was talking with my father today. Not that we don’t always talk; the difference was that we were talking about Baseball, a subject that I am passionate about and that he is mainly indifferent.

Of course my dad always reads my blog posts! It’s just that he is not a big fan of baseball.

However, he was not always that way.

My dad was at the very first Blue Jay game. He still has his ticket and the very first Blue Jay program from that game in 1977. My father will reminisce and talk about how cold it was that day, how the opposing team’s catcher (I think it was the Chicago White Sox) used his knee pads like snowshoes to entertain the fans before the game, and the wonderful feeling when they won.

In 1993, my dad heard Tom Cheek’s live broadcast of, “…touch’em all Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life!”, because he preferred the radio broadcast to the television’s broadcaster.

He still has hard feelings for the 1994 player’s walkout that to him destroyed the integrity of the “game.”

I guess he is a “closet” Baseball fan, after all.

Well, it is Spring Training time and that always gets people thinking about Baseball, especially when the temperature in Toronto is -5 Celsius (in the 20s Fahrenheit). Even my dad.

So there we were in the car and we had just heard that the Blue Jays won their Spring Training game with a walk-off home run. We started talking about the proposed rule changes to make the game faster for today’s audience, or as my dad says, “…for today’s ‘zapper’ generation (i.e., television remote controls).”

To say the least, he is not impressed.

When we brought up the “no pitch” intentional walk, the passion he still has for the game was obvious. My dad was a great fan of the Cincinnati Reds. He started talking about “that game in the 1971 World Series (check to make sure) when the Oakland Athletics’ Rollie Fingers (check spelling) struck out the “Big Red Machine’s” Johnny Bench on what was supposed to be an intentional walk with two strikes on the Hall of Fame catcher.

Any momentum the Reds’ had was lost on that pitch, as the A’s went on to win the Series.

My dad can name all the members of that great Reds’ team, and of course his (still) favourite player, Pete Rose.

Although he has been to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown – as all true fans must make a “pilgrimage” -my dad doesn’t think that the Hall is legitimate until Rose has “his rightful place” along with Bench et al.

You see, to my dad, the problem is not the length of the game. It is how the game is played today.

My father will tell you that that time it takes to review the Umpire’s call(s) is not the problem. Rather, it takes the fun out of the game. He’ll tell you that part of the joy of the game is missing. When an “ump” makes a mistake – and all the fans of the team that are either angry about it or relieved – there exists the human element that makes Baseball not only interesting to watch. It makes Baseball a living thing, full of ups and downs and mistakes that become so integral to the game itself and reflect the very way that the game is almost a metaphor for human life.

And, when Pete Rose would crash into a catcher on a throw to home to score the winning run, was the way the game should be played – to play to win – where the hardest, most determined, most deserving players and teams would determine their own fates. Of course, this would  also apply to trying to avoid the “double play” at second.

To my dad, the game is timeless and etherial; almost spiritual in a way. To change its character is the equivalent of taking away what makes it great. No matter when or how, there is always Baseball, a piece of history that should remain untouched and always outside of the changing, rapid paced and technologically-advanced world in which we live.

For my father, that is how baseball should be played; for many others too, I suspect.

What a wonderful way to spend the afternoon…

Alyssa Cohen

P.S. This whole post was actually written by my father, but in my perspective! I certainly hope you enjoyed it. Also, that picture was taken about three years ago… crazy how time flies by so quickly!

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