Around Major League Baseball
“Stick to sports!”
It’s a common refrain for any athletes – or even sports journalists – who have the temerity to express any political thought. And my God, has that phrase gotten a workout in the past week or so.
There are no such thing as jinxes.
The sports teams in Cleveland have been victims of freak injuries, phenoms who never lived up to their full potential and decades of poor ownership. “The Curse of Rocky Colavito” is the title of a book, and that’s it.
But just in case…
The Fourth of July – the quintessential day of all things American; a celebration of our nation’s freedom, filled with hot dogs, fireworks, apple pie, family, and, of course, America’s pastime – baseball.
How did baseball grow to become America’s pastime, anyway? And, moreover, why has that moniker stuck? Surely, as times have progressed, Americans have become more interested in other sports – football, especially with the rise of college football, seems to have taken over as the favored sport among Americans, particularly young Americans. I mean, come on, baseball has even had to adopt new measures to make the game more user-friendly for the current generation – that is to say, it’s been decided that speeding up the game is a must, to make it easier on fans and observers.
However, through those changes and the rise of football, the NBA, even soccer in American culture, baseball is still heralded as America’s sport. Just why is that – and why has it always been?
In his book, “God’s Country and Mine,” historian Jacques Barzun said “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”
In the 20th century, the story of baseball is the story of America: From the rise of cities that spawned the teams to the availability of leisure time for fans to watch the sport, to the way social changes in the game and in the country mirrored each other, with franchises shifting with the population and teams becoming more representative of the U.S. population.
The Maltz Museum in Beachwood is the first stop for an exhibit that started last year at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, “Chasing Dreams: Baseball and Becoming American.” Because the Maltz Museum and the Philadelphia museum focus on Jewish history, there is a focus on Jewish athletes. Hank Greenberg’s Triple Crown is on display, as is one of Sandy Koufax’s Cy Young Awards (Koufax, the Dodgers pitcher who famously refused to pitch a World Series game because it fell on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, donated a lot of artifacts for the exhibit.)
It’s one of the most horrifying things to watch in baseball: a pitcher delivers to the batter, the batter connects, and then – BAM. The pitcher is down. It happens so quickly, there is little time to process what happened. Then the replays start and you can’t help but cringe. The pitcher is down, hit in the face by a screaming line drive. It’s a fate wished on no one.
When Carlos Carrasco went down on Tuesday night in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox after throwing only eight pitches, the stadium went silent. Fans from both sides waited to see the verdict.
Carrasco is reported to have suffered little more than a jaw contusion and is on the schedule to pitch Monday against the White Sox in Chicago. However, the result of his injury could have been career-ending. Here’s a look at some pitchers who have suffered the same fate, with mixed results (strangely, the Indians seem to be involved in quite a few of these occurrences). While an injury such as this seems to merely be a bump in the road for some players, as some of these stories demonstrate, the results are not always so positive, and a hit to face can often have much, much worse ramifications than missing a start or two.
I laughed, I cried, I cheered, and I was only 10 chapters in.
He may have given fans a list of 100 things to do but, with “100 Things Every Indians Fan Should Know and Do Before They Die,” Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com has given Indians’ fan their 101st task:
Read this book.
Major League Baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s was a unique time for the sport and will be remembered in many different ways.
Some major records were broken, both offensively and on the mound. There were a good number of stars that were revered. It seemed there were more great players during that period than at any other time.
This season did not turn out the way the Indians had anticipated when they started 2014. Playoff dreams remained just that, dreams, and despite their overall winning record, the team still ended their season without ever seeing an October game.
However, not every player who started on the Indians’ roster ended their season in that same way. The Indians parted with three well-known and long-term players this season who were able to move farther in the post season that they would have in an Indians’ uniform. While none are playing in the Fall Classic right now, it’s still worth it to give these departed players a nod and recap their seasons:
Name: Rob Manfred
Position: Newly-elected MLB Commissioner
Duty: To ensure the game of baseball continues to run smoothly, effectively, and, where possible, better than it has before.
That’s no small task.
The World Series may not be played until October, but Tuesday night’s All-Star Game may have given fans a glimpse of which team could possibly walk away the 2014 Major League Baseball champions.
The American League walked away as the winners during the Midsummer Classic, defeating the National League by a score of 5-3. Not only did the American League players earn bragging rights, and not only did Mike Trout earn the MVP title, but they also secured home-field advantage for the impending World Series.
And what an advantage the home field is.
It’s All-Star week and beginning Sunday afternoon, Major League Baseball’s best is on display for the world to see.
The most highly touted prospects, including Indians Francisco Lindor, play in the Sirius XM Future’s Game on Sunday afternoon, followed by Home Run Derby, highlighting several individual stars of today, and the crown jewel the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. With the NFL, NBA and NHL all out of season, it truly is Major League Baseball’s chance to highlight their best on a national and world stage.
But what if Major League Baseball could do even more to highlight their game this week?
Calling plays, calling balls, running a field, running the bases – they’re all the same, right? Baseball, football, what does it matter – if you can play one sport, you can play them all.
At least, that seems to be the thought during the MLB First-Year Player Draft, which occurred last week for the 2014 class. Among those selected for the draft were prominent high school and college athletes, as well as one well-known rookie quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, Johnny Manziel.
Manziel was drafted as a shortstop by the San Diego Padres in the 28th round of the 2014 draft, a decision that Padres General Manager Josh Byrnes is quoted on Fox Sports as saying was approached with a “Why not?” sort of mindset.