Baseballhead: Oh, there’s a game?

Michael Cox

Thank God it’s opening day. (ESPN’s — or should I say ESPN2’s, since women’s college basketball was more important on the main network — Sunday night game isn’t really Opening Day. For one, it doesn’t start until 8:05 Eastern, when we all know Opening Day starts in the afternoon in Cincinnati. Second, there were spring training games yesterday as well, which tells me MLB itself doesn’t really even count it.)

After all the artificially generated frenzy over steroids (to the point of ESPN declaring the past few years the “Steroid Era”) it’s good to get back to the only two groups of people who really count in baseball: fans and ballplayers. This week is about the sun rising a little earlier, the air getting a little warmer, smelling the grass, and getting a little toasted before the game at the neighborhood bar because you know the air won’t quite be warm enough yet.

Fans have proven with their actions what they’ve said over and over this spring – they simply don’t care about the media’s holier-than-thou editorializing. Merchandise sales have almost doubled over last spring’s sales. Ticket sales are up. Last night a stadium full of Yankee fans — the self-proclaimed true keepers of baseball tradition — gave Jason Giambi a standing ovation.

What more proof do you need?

Add to this the overwhelming evidence that the recent Congressional hearings were little more than a political smokescreen for the much more controversial actions our government was taking at the same time. When I think of how whole-hog the media dove in, the phrase “unwitting dupes” comes to mind.

But that’s behind us now, despite the fact that ESPN decided they needed to take time out from the Yankees-Red Sox game to force every fan to see it again. In detail. With roving Jeanne Zelaszko-alike reporter Sam Ryan (who seemed to annoy everyone she spoke to) badgering Yankee GM Brian Cashman with questions she should have known he couldn’t answer, if only she followed baseball. (She did get to introduce a pre-taped “famous fan” piece with Fat Joe, though. Maybe she can do it from the studio next time. With help from Peter Gammons.)

Another couple of asides related to the Yankee-Red Sox tilt last night:

  • Even if he’s with the Yankees for the next ten years, I will never get used to Randy Johnson in pinstripes, or with neatly cut hair.
     
  • Joe Morgan is slowly but surely becoming my dad, with whom I have to avoid specific keywords so as not to trigger the same rant I’ve heard two dozen times before. I’m hoping Jon Miller can figure out the keyword thing.
     
  • Hands up, anyone who didn’t expect precisely the performance we saw from David Wells, right down to the facial expressions when he started getting knocked around.
     
  • I’m not seeing any hands.
     
  • I like the feature where they talk to the managers during the game. Don’t know why, it’s all Larry King-level banter, but maybe it just beats the alternative.
     

I’m looking forward to getting to the ballpark today and actually watching a game without any extraneous opinions from sportswriters or Joe Morgan. I recommend you do the same.

about the author

Michael Cox likes to spend a little time each day ensuring he won’t get a job at Sports Illustrated. You can still offer him a gig spritzing the swimsuit models when you e-mail him from our Contact Us page.

Published April 3, 2005

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