The American baseball season ended last night with the Red Sox of Boston defeating the Cardinals of St. Louis six runs to one. That wrapped up what is xenophobically called the 'World Series' in Boston's favor, four games to two.
Like many men of my generation, baseball was my first love. It was virtually the only sport when I was growing up. Basketball was still played in rickety gyms and had professional outposts in cities like Fort Wayne and Syracuse--it was hardly major league. And football was more a boola-boola college game played in the chill of winter than the three season spectacle it now is. That left baseball as the only show in town.
Of course, growing up in New York just a few short miles from the Parthenon of Sport, Yankee Stadium was always a factor. Sports stars, like presidents, were more deified in those days. And we had Mantle, Berra, Ford and a host of other legends to fuel our sports-driven mythology.
Baseball, like American industrial might, has been dying for about 50 years. It is no longer--despite what they self-proclaim--the 'National Pastime.' It no longer rivets the attention of the nation. We no longer wonder where Joe DiMaggio has gone.
That said, the last month of baseball has been sterling. The Red Sox, who wear their underdog-ness like a beauty queen wears a tiara, came through with good pitching, heroic performances and clutch hitting. They fought tooth and nail against the Cardinals, the most-storied franchise in the senior circuit, and each game was something of a nail biter.
I watched more baseball this October than I have for 30 years.
I don't know the players like I used to. And I don't understand certain affectations of how the game is played today. I don't understand why the players wear their pants long, with their hems often caught by the heel of their spikes. That is dumb and asinine. But that is a la mode today, the way things are done, like kids wearing hats backwards. I guess I shouldn't let such things bother me.
Now baseball is over until mid-February when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in Florida and Arizona. Hope will once rise in the human breast.
Because no matter what happens, maybe this will be the year.