Baseball Is Better Than Ever.

1200px-Major_League_Baseball_logo.svgI have been chided for some recent Strumings about the decline of football and my fading love of radio. Comments were made that I tend to view “things aren’t as good as they used to be”. That may be true in some cases, not in others. That thought sparked a recent post, Am I becoming a Grumpy Old Man?, which is a worthy question.

However one thing that is getting better in my eyes….. baseball.

Baseball was always my favorite sport and to me it’s getting better. Purists may disagree and sure, there are things that I don’t like:

–different rules for AL and NL never made sense. Extend the DH to both leagues or kill it, but let’s have the same rules.

–one game “play-in” for Wild Cards. The playoffs begin the Division Series not the Wild Card. Baseball Is not a “single elimination tournament”.

–lack of bunting skills. Any player that can bunt successfully can break the defensive shift on him in a few days.

I have many ideas to make a great game greater, which I shared with the MLB Commissioner (if only he would listen). But regardless of my quibbles, I love going to baseball games. Going to a baseball game is a wonderful experience. The season is long, with largely warm weather games. It’s a marathon. And after the 162 regular season games come the games of October.

Attending a game is a wonderful, leisurely, but sometimes less than exciting experience. The pace of games is often slow and often lacking action but the nature of a non-timed games provides the opportunity for last second walk-off heroics. I am at peace at a game. And there are 81 opportunities to see your team play at home in the regular season, not 8 as in football. And from April-October I watch, listen to, monitor every (Yankees) game, home or away, for at least a few innings.

ballIt’s not a surprise to Strumings readers that I love the Yankees, and love going to the Bronx to attend games. I grew up a Yankees fan so I have seen far more October games than fans of other teams. My first memories as a boy of 7 was the 1960 Yankees. My dad took me to my first regular season game that year, and I still have a signed baseball from all the 1960 Yankees. The Yankees played the Pirates in the World Series that year, that one didn’t turn out so well (BTW—Bill Mazeroski’s 9th inning game 7 homer was an all-time feat, but he is the weakest player in the HOF. Don’t believe me? Check his stats) .

But I have had I have had the pleasure of seeing the Yankees playing in 16 World Series, from 1960 on, with 9 Championships. In baseball’s Playoff era, they’ve also been to the playoffs 13 other times but fell short of the World Series. In fact, in the 24-year period since 1995, including this year, the Yankees will have played in the post-season an incredible 20 of 24 times.

Since my early years I’ve seen great Yankees teams of the early 60s with Mantle/Maris/Ford/Berra, late 70s (Munson, Reggie, Guidry/Nettles) and the late 90s/early 2000s, which was really special . The Jeter/Mo/Andy/Jorge/Bernie era was a joy. It lasted far longer than any fan could have hoped for. It created unreasonable expectations of Championships every year and though they won plenty it was never enough and in some ways even took a little of the joy of winning.  But in sports and life in general, all things come to an end. Players age, their skills diminish, and they retire. The joy of this new Yankees era is based on a new crop of Yankees stars largely in their 20s which may bring home more Championships in the coming years. They are still climbing the mountain and time will tell if they ever get there.

But I am enjoying the ride more than ever. I’ve now moved into a higher tier of partial season tickets and have gone to 18 Yankees regular season games this year with a 13-5 record. Not too shabby. 9 of the first 10 games were victories, with only 4 wins of the last 8 games. This mirrored the team’s overall performance—great first half and then a more modest second half showing. However, the playoffs now await. It could be “one and done” with a wild card loss, that’s the cruelty of losing the wild card play-in game. Or they could have a long ride into late October.

AL playoff teams are all set. The Yankees will be playing Oakland in the Wild Card game on October 3 and the winner will play the Red Sox in the ALDS. Houston and Cleveland will face off in the other Division Series. The NL teams and matchups are not yet settled, but soon will be since the regular season.

Going to 18 games is not enough so I have tickets for the ALDS, ALCS and World Series. I will never attend a Wild Card game.

Win or lose, I love the Yankees and have enjoyed the last 2 years even more than others. Baseball is a great game and getting better.

PS I will be going to even more Yankees games in 2019 (29 games in my package). I have always felt 2019 was the year the Yankees will be Champs. Who knows? Maybe they’ll win in both 2018 and 2019.

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