Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fun at the old ballpark

Or, why can't regular baseball be like this?

"This" being the MLB All-Star Game, which the Blob actually watched chunks of last night, and which reminded it of everything the game has lost. Pitchers pitched and hitters hit and there wasn't a lot of the attendant messing around that has turned regular baseball into such a numbing slog here in the new millennium. What, you mean you don't have to call time between every pitch to adjust your batting gloves? You don't have to take 15 pitches before getting the bat off your shoulder? You don't have to lollygag out on the mound before throwing the pill?

An extra-inning game, and it only took a tad over three hours. The Red Sox and Yankees would still have been in the seventh-inning stretch at that point. Refreshing to see the game played the way it was intended to be played, stepping lively instead of slowing to a crawl.

And that wasn't even the best part.

The best part was NL catcher Yadiar Molina impersonating Ironman in his solid-gold chest protector and solid-gold mask.

(OK, so that wasn't it. But still a pretty cool rig).

The best part was looking up and realizing Jim Bridger had taken up baseball.

(OK, so that wasn't it, either. But those mountain men beards? All that was missing was fringed buckskin, a tomahawk and a Kentucky long rifle).

The best part ...

Well. The best part -- the real best part -- was that moment when Nelson Cruz called time as he came to the plate, handed Molina his phone and had him take a picture of him posing with legendary plate umpire Joe West.

It was at once a serious breach of baseball etiquette, and a moment that pulled aside the curtain that too often obscures a great truth: That all these professionals, all these men who often seem as comfortable in a boardroom as a dugout, are at heart still little boys playing a little boys game. And therein lies its magic.

In an age of VORPs and WARs and all the other sabermetrics that reduce the game to some bloodless algorithm, it was a comfort to see that magic again. If only for a moment.

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