McKibbin’s Scribblin’s: Baseball: A game of artistry, memories
As I sit here watching the baseball all-star game, I’m wondering what it is about the game that is still so appealing after more than a century of games.
George Will and Bob Costas can express their answers much more eloquently than I can on this subject. George Carlin had a great routine about baseball and football that does a good job of expressing my view of the game. I’m sure you can find it online.
Baseball does mean something to me, even though I’m much more of a football fan and have been for pretty much all my adult life.
I think one thing is it’s simplicity. You try to throw a ball past an opposing player who swings a stick at it to try to hit the ball. How much more simplistic can a game be?
Simple? When the ball is thrown at just under (a few times over) 100 miles an hour from just 60 feet, 6 inches away? A batter has less than a second to decide to swing. What kind of reflexes does that take?
But the game is also played at a relaxed pace, much like we like our lives to be lived at times. Life is overly busy and hectic for most of us, but when you watch a baseball game, you can relax between pitches. Can’t do that as much watching a football game, and pretty much never, if you’re viewing a basketball game.
I also find some of my favorite movies had baseball as a theme. Most recently, “42,” which told the Jackie Robinson story. Inspiring. Of course, “Field Of Dreams,” which is really about fathers and sons and is very uplifting.
For laughs, “Major League,” including Bob Uecker’s famous call of an outrageously wild pitch as “juuust outside,” is classic. Some older movies, like “Pride Of The Yankees,” are also moving and life affirming.
As a youth, my friends and I would ride our bikes down to the 7-Eleven to buy packs and packs of baseball cards to try to collect an entire set. The hard bubble gum was just a plus; it was the cards we were after to collect and trade, even clip the ones we had duplicates of or didn’t like to the spokes of our bikes. The cool “click-click-click” noise would go faster and faster as we pedaled harder and harder.
I played Little League baseball (or tried to) as a youth, but was pretty bad. They always put me in right field, if that gives you an idea. Rightfully so, too. I may have caught one fly ball in my very short career. And about the only way I could get on base was to draw a walk.
It was a different story when my brothers and our friends would gather at the ball field in the park behind our house. (Great place to grow up, if you liked to play sports.) My best friend at the time and I were the oldest in the group we hung out with, so we kind of ruled. But those are great memories, too.
More recently, I umpired a few youth league baseball and softball games here in Rifle. It was a kick watching the little kids try so hard, just like I did back in the day. And I got to yell “steeeriiike threee” a couple times. Hard to beat that, you know?
Maybe it’s the precision and artistry of the perfectly turned double play, the athletic skill of acrobatic outfield catches and the strength and accuracy of a perfect throw to the plate from the outfield wall to nail a runner that impresses me all the more.
Deep down, I think I’ll always love the game. For all the things I’ve mentioned and more. It’s just the classic American game. Scratch that, American pastime.
Pro football may be king now and my favorite, but baseball will always hold a special place in my heart, warts and all.
Mike McKibbin is the editor of The Citizen Telegram.
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Garfield County is seeking to qualify its four west-end communities for Colorado’s Rural Jump Start program, providing tax breaks for new businesses.