Thursday, March 25, 2010

9 Authors - 12 Baseball Questions

The Line Up
1 Change Up Baseball Poems by Fehler SS
2. Keeping Score by Park 1st
3 Mudville by Scaletta 2nd
4 Brooklyn Nine by Gratz CF
5 Prince of Fenway Park by Baggott RF
6 Six Innings by Preller 3rd
7 Comeback Season by Smith LF
8 Painting the Black by Deuker C
9 The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Cochrane P

In case you missed it the beginning, questions 1-3

4. The Schneider families love of baseball can be traced all the way back to 1845. What is it about baseball that encourages family connections?

Gratz - One of the reasons baseball connects generations is that its been around so long. No other American sport has such roots in our history and lives. A grandfather who hasn't seen the Cubs win a World Series has something in common with a grandson who hasn't seen the Cubs win a World Series. A modern Braves fan can compare their more recent winning ways with the dreadful Braves of the 70s and 80s. Without getting too sentimental about it, baseball has a way of bringing generations together around familiar teams and famous players. Other sports may do that as well, but where baseball stands apart is its pace. The slow pace of a baseball game almost *forces* you to talk with the people you went with, and often with the strangers sitting all around you. Pretty soon you're talking about the old days, or some new eighteen-year-old kid with a 95-mph fastball, or that terrible trade your team made last season, and the lines of communication are open. There's something there for you to talk about, to share, and it doesn't matter how old you are, or even if you're related by blood. Now, you're family.

Baggott - I think it’s the lazy pace. That baseball only really heats up (other than ‘roid rages) in September and October when you need the heat. With that slow pace, there is time for reflection, story-telling, gathering memories of loss, heartbreak, success, and victory. All the stuff that makes us human is in our stories that we tell between innings and visits to the mound by the tubby coaching staff in their saggy-bottomed pants.

Preller - As a boy, baseball was always entangled with my mother, who was (and still is, at age 84) a passionate fan. By rooting alongside her, caring just as deeply as she did, we formed a bond. I believe that my love for my mother and my love for the game are inextricably linked, a confusion of one for the other; that somehow my love of the game is an expression of my love for her. Today as a parent, I’ve experienced the same with my children, but from the other end of the telescope. That said: baseball is just the vehicle, it could be a different sport or non-sports activity. As much as I love baseball, I think it’s a sport that gets over-sentimentalized; I don’t get mushy about it

Smith- I think it’s a bit like any sports allegiance that’s passed down through the years. It’s a chance to spend time together, to root for a common goal, to hope and cheer and dream together. In the case of the Cubs, even losing generates a kind of camaraderie, a collective despair that has become sort of a badge of honor, made all the more bearable because it’s shared.

Deuker -The pace of the game and the season is slow. That allows for savoring both the individual games and the unfolding of the season. In the old days, when players stayed with the same team for years, the bonding of families around teams was even stronger.

Cochrane - I’ve said baseball is something people can love side-by-side: we can all love itbut in different ways. It’s maybe the one childhood passion (besides reading maybe) that may last a lifetime. There’s so many stories connected to the game—it can almost be like another, supplementary family history—tragedies andtriumphs and traumas, eccentric characters—that a family can share, a kind of mythology.

Fehler - I was first drawn to baseball by listening to my grandfather, a Cub fan, listen to his Cubs on the radio; and my dad, a White Sox fan, listen to the Sox on the radio. I learned that their teams usually finished far out of first place while the Yankees were winning every year, so they unintentionally taught me to be a Yankee fan. With my own two sons, from the time they were old enough to throw a baseball, we spent hours in the yard playing ball. Then I coached their youth teams for several years. Baseball is a chance for families to spend time together, sharing a mutual love. Even non-players can share the joys of listening and watching the game. Baseball is one of the best universal languages I know of.

Park -The game stays the same even as it changes. Which means that fans across the years have much in common. I love watching games with fans across a wide age range, each with a different perspective but all united by love of the game.

Scaletta - Someone in the Ken Burns documentary pointed out that baseball is one interest you can have from a small boy to an old man that doesn't change. So several generations can go enjoy a baseball game together at the same level. And unlike other sports, there's plenty of time to talk about the game. So it's a good togetherness activity for a family.

5. Its 2004, Oscar believes he can break the 86 yr old curse on his beloved Red Soxs. Are you a superstitious fan?
Baggott -Sweet mother! I’ve got my fingers crossed and I’m knocking on wood, and I’m rubbing sticks together, and a black cat lives at the end of my street, and there’s a ladder! Go Red Sox! (Move over, son, you’re in mommy’s Lucky Seat!)

Preller - No

Smith - Incredibly. There are so many Cubs curses to worry about, particularly the one about that stupid billy goat. When I first moved to New York City, where I live now, I couldn’t believe how confident Yankees fans were about their team’s chances. They’d be back six or eight games in August, still talking about how they were a sure bet to win the Series. Nobody in Chicago would ever be that cavalier. You spend half the season waiting for the other shoe to drop. By September, my knuckles are practically raw from knocking wood so often.

Deuker - I don't have a superstitious bone in my body. I do have a great deal of difficulty watching a close game on television. Too nerve-wracking. Oddly, I have no trouble listening on the radio or watching in person.

Cochrane - When things start to go badly for my team in a tense game, I will sometimes leave the room. I am not sure that is superstitious so much as just cowardly. I don’t want to watch the train wreck.

Fehler - I'm not really a superstitious fan except for one thing: whenever I'm watching a game and something bad happens to my team, I know I am responsible. I know if I weren't watching, that bad thing would never have happened.

Park - Ptooey on superstition, that's what I say. Hey, don't touch that. It's my lucky glass, but I can't drink from it until the sixth inning. And of course I can only go to the bathroom between innings, with one exception (pitching change).

Scaletta - Nah, but I love that dimension to the game and joke about it all the time. Especially when the other pitcher is throwing a no hitter, I make a big deal it to "jinx" the guy.

Gratz -Not terribly. I love the superstitions surrounding baseball, but I'm happy to talk about a no-hitter or a perfect game when it's happening. Honestly, nothing I say or do has any effect on a game whatsoever. I still joke about "jinxing" things, but it's just another way we invest ourselves in the outcome, as though we had something to do with it. Instead, I like watching baseball games as though they are already fated. As though what happens on the diamond was always going to happen. In that sense, it's like I'm watching a movie-even if I'm at the game, live. The events play out as they were scripted to play out, and I'm just an appreciative witness.

6. Sam is sidelined all season. He announces all six innings of the little league championship game. Who is your favorite baseball announcer?

Preller - I go back to my boyhood love of the New York Mets – a passion shared with my mother. The original Mets announcers in those early years were a trio: Lindsey Nelson, a savvy veteran who famously wore loud, outlandish sports jackets; Bob Murphy, smooth-voiced and affable; and Ralph Kiner, the former slugger who kept listeners entertained with old-time baseball stories and malaprops. In my mind, you couldn’t separate those men; they were a team of complementary parts, and they worked the games together from 1962-78, when Nelson retired.

Smith - I grew up listening to the great Harry Caray, and nobody sings “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” like he did. Now I love Ron Santo, another Cubbie favorite. He was an amazing player and is now an amazing announcer, not to mention a pretty remarkable human being.

Deuker - Joe Morgan. First of all, as a SF Giant he hit a home run that kept the Dodgers out of the playoffs. Secondly, he is insightful without being pompous. I can't stand the "scientific" guys and I can't stand the "poetry" guys. Joe gets it right.

Cochrane - The late Herb Carneal, longtime Twins announcer. He was old school, a hint of a southern accent, a genius of narrative. He told you what pitch was thrown and where it was and didn’t editorialize. During the off season he compiled notecards with facts about the players which he inserted into his play-by-play. My wife and I used to count his FPP (facts per pitch). But he wasn’t afraid of silence: he’d pause and you could hear the vendors in the background. He believed the game itself was interesting, and that we didn’t need to hear about the zanyantics of his colleagues to stay involved: he respected the game and his listeners.

Fehler - My favorite announcer growing up was Jack Brickhouse, announcing Chicago Cub games. I loved the countless anecotes Brickhouse was always telling about oldtime players. I learned much about the early history of the game from listening to him.

Park - Gary Cohen, New York Mets, for play-by-play, and Ron Darling for color. I also love Jon Miller. Sentimental vote to Jack Brickhouse (I never got to hear Vin Scully or Red Barber or Mel Allen broadcast a game live).

Scaletta - Bob Casey, of the Twins. There is NOOOOOOOOO smoking in the Metrodome. I also like Bert Blyleven on TV.

Gratz - Vin Scully. Hands down. Even though he mostly does TV now, he's an old-school radio announcer, which means he's always talking, always filling that empty space with facts and anecdotes and play by play. I love that. I can turn on a Dodgers game and just LISTEN. In second place for me is Thom Brennaman, who announced for the Diamondbacks, and I think is now with the Reds. He's no-nonsense, which I like, and not afraid to call 'em like he sees 'em, even when that means criticizing his own club. I really hate those announcers who find something positive to say about everything. Honestly, sometimes your team just sucks, and you have to own up to it. Thom's dad, Marty, was always a straight shooter too, and another good one. I also like Steve Stone--who, I should point out, got fired from announcing the Cubs for saying they sucked.

Baggott - Retired Red Sox announcer Ned Martin. When my husband hears his voice, he’s young again.


Jen Robinson said...

I love your questions, Doret.

I think that everything people said contributes to baseball being a family passion. For me, I have clear memories of my grandparents listening to the Red Sox games on the radio. After my grandfather died, my grandmother listened even more religiously - I think it was a way of staying close to her husband. That's what baseball does.

As for superstitions, let's just say that in 2004 we had to have the couches configured a certain way, and we had to eat certain foods, just in case... We weren't going to be the ones who caused the Red Sox NOT to win the ALCS or the World Series.

And for me, Jerry Remy. I've been living away from Boston for 12 years or so, and Remy is the voice of home.

Doret said...

Thanks Jen. All the books were so good, coming up with the questions was easy.

I always thought baseball and superstitions went together. I've done everything from change my Met shirt, put it on backwards, hang it against my door to stop watching the game.

Joe Morgan is great behind mic. Great announcers are essential to making enjoying a game that much more.

James Preller said...

The first time I saw a color television set was on a visit to my grandparents' house in Queens Village, NY. Grandpa was in his big chair, smoking a cigar, watching baseball.

I'd never seen such green, green grass.

I cannot stand Joe Morgan (but loved him as a player).


Anonymous said...

JP--I'm with you all the way on Morgan. Loved him as a player, couldn't wait to hear him as a commentator, and to this day can hardly bear my dismay whenever he broadcasts. My son and I call or text each other to discuss his boneheaded comments, i.e., from last season, on whether a player taggiing up at third had waited until after the catch to leave the bag: "His body left the bag but his feet didn't." (repeated several times) Hunhhh???

(Sorry to Doret and other fans of Morgan's announcing!)

Really enjoying reading everyone's responses! --Linda Sue

Doret said...

Joe Morgan's booth partner Jon Miller can get on my nerves a bit.