(This is the second entry of 26 I’ll be writing in August. It’s a challenge to myself: to see if I can actually keep a daily deadline anymore. It’s been a long time since the old CSN days!)
Q: What do you do with an elephant with three balls?
A: Walk him and pitch to the giraffe.
(I’ve always liked this joke, because it even makes sense in a baseball context. After all, a giraffe must have a huge strike zone.)
In the 1930s and 40s, Babe Ruth was royalty. The Sultan of Swat. The King of Swing. The most idolized and recognized man in America.
During World War II, Americans and Japanese fought each other savagely throughout the islands of the Pacific. But the battles would mostly going on during the day. At night, the ground troops would dig into their fox holes and wait. And watch.
Eventually, frustrations would grow to the boiling point. Americans would scream their rage out into the jungle by insulting the Japanese deified Emperor: “To Hell with Hirohito!”
Infuriated Japanese soldiers responded, "To hell with Babe Ruth!"
At least the Mets are trying to improve their hitting. Last week, they spent half a million bucks on a new pitching machine.
Unfortunately, yesterday the machine beat them 5 – 1.
Once upon a time, my son was a Little League baseball player. I went to almost all of his games, and cheered like mad for his team, and booed the other team lustily.
The umpiring at these games was—to be charitable—uneven, especially in the calling of balls and strikes. Not only wasn’t the umpiring very good, but it was terribly inconsistent. At first, I would scream and yell at the calls that went against my team, especially those that went against my kid.
But eventually it got through my thick head that the umpires were no more major leaguers than my son was. They were mostly teen agers and retirees, volunteering out of a love of the game or picking up maybe 25 bucks a game. They were doing the best they could.
A few weeks after I’d had this epiphany, I found myself at a game, sitting next to my buddy Ron, a former college athlete turned banker. Ron’s son was a teammate of my kid, and Ron had lost none of his competitive fire even though he was now sitting in the bleachers.
The home plate umpire was having a particularly tough time during this game—his strike zone had the approximate shape of an amoeba, and changed that shape seemingly between pitches. When Ron’s son was called out on a strike just slightly over his head, Ron stood up and let the umpire have it with both barrels.
“Ron,” I said to him, when he’d vented his spleen, “how would you feel if there was a guy standing behind your chair in the office? And every time you hung up the phone, you heard him bellowing: “You call that a loan?”
Mets second baseman Luis Castillo knows how badly he’s been playing. In fact, he’s been so depressed he tried to commit suicide the other day. The despondent player threw himself in front of a bus.
The damn thing went right between his legs.