Letter to the editor: The Pride of America

World Series Dodgers Astros Baseball

Baseball.

It may be the last American thing we can depend on, and admire.  I must admit though, that I haven’t watched one baseball game on TV all summer.  I should be ashamed to admit it, and I am.  I did see the AL game 7, however, Houston beating the Yankees for the American League Championship.  I became interested, ramped up, when I heard the Dodgers beat the Cubs for the National league title.  

Here we go …World Series 2017, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros.  Great! 

It all brings me back to high school days, October, 1963, Brooklyn, New York.  World Series.  The Dodgers, now safely ensconced in Los Angeles, but still with bitter feelings from we Brooklynites for leaving town, against the Yankees.  Mantle, Maris, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Joe Pepitone …Pepitone was a nephew to my friend Frankie Sorrentino’s father who owned the corner grocery store in our neighborhood.  Pepitone, the star Yankee first-baseman, came by one day and we kids were google-eyed awestruck.  For the Dodgers, Sandy Koufax, the Jewish kid from Brooklyn, our true hero, led the Dodger pitching staff, which included Don Drysdale, to a four game shut out of the Yankees.

Jackie Robinson, our other true Brooklyn hero, was retired by then but had played in six World Series, the last being in 1956, with the, then, Brooklyn Dodgers.  

Why do I remember this in such stark detail?  What impressed this 14 year old kid so much that he still gets the same joyful, youthful feeling about baseball and the World Series?  Why do I associate baseball with everything good about America?  

Maybe it’s because as I watch the Series on TV, I seen no racial division, no politics, no kneeling and weeping for America (leave that for the NFL) I just see baseball, good ole American baseball, our modern day heritage.  Different names, same game. 

No matter how hard we try, and how hard the pressures of our lives and the world bear down, we never lose our love, our passion, for baseball.  At least I haven’t ..and I‘m ashamed to admit I hardly watched a game during the regular season.  But that’s the thing with baseball, you can miss a whole season, but come October, there it is.  It’s like riding a bicycle, once you learn how, get your balance, you never lose it.  You always love it.  

Pure joy.

Sometimes we forget that these players start their season in the spring in places like Florida and Arizona.  They play hundreds of games, and throughout the season they fine-tune their skills as the teams fine-tune their rosters moving players up and down from the minor leagues and their farm teams.  By the time they get to the playoffs and the World Series in October, many of us are apologetically watching our first game.  It almost feels disrespectful.  But still, we love it and know the game, and respect it, as if we’ve watched every one.  

We have not abandoned you Baseball, it just seems that way sometimes.   

Baseball is the America of our youth, well, my youth.  There’s something sacred about it more than any other sport.  It was a wartime sport, it brought people together.  It brought races together.  I think it’s the pacing, and the connectivity ..the humanity.  Slow and easy interspersed with explosive action and drama.  Every player touches the ball.  Speed and precision.  Skill.  Strategy.  Pitching.  

Juxtaposed to today’s NFL games fraught with the kneeling and protests, and NBA basketball with the bickering and publicized debauchery, Major League Baseball sets all that aside.  It’s more of a gentleman’s game.  Dignified.  Quieter.  America’s first game. The power and speed are there, but it’s controlled, contained ..packaged within the game’s play design and the dimensions of the playing field.  60 feet from the pitchers mound to home plate, 90 feet between the bases.  Baseball is easy to watch, it’s easy on the eye.  The continuity and pacing keep you interested and involved, if you are a thinking, cogitative person and you take the time to enjoy and appreciate it.   

Maybe our politicians and leaders, and the news media, can take a lesson from baseball on how to be an American and what America means.  

“Speak softly and carry a big stick” comes to mind, President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy.  Our President Trump seems to espouse a policy of ‘speak loud and mindless, put your foot in your mouth, and carry a breath mint’. 

In our frantic 24/7 warlike society, combative and competitive in every aspect — the news media, government, Mrs. Johnson’s 6th grade elementary school class — we find it hard to sit through a 9 inning baseball game paced for a thoughtful, strategic mind as opposed to the immediacy of today’s hyper-excessive mindset more suited for a fast paced, skittering basketball game or a concussive blunt force trauma football game.     

Maybe our 24/7 cable news channels should go 7/24 instead.  7 hours a day, 24 days a month.  You’d miss nothing.  It would give the mind some breathing room to make wise decisions and smart choices.  It would sharpens the mind and develop stronger powers of observation and concentrated thinking.      

Like Yogi always said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

See more of these “Yogi-isms” at  http://ftw.usatoday.com/2015/09/the-50-greatest-yogi-berra-quotes  they’re great! 

Yogi Berra may not have been the pride of the Yankees as Lou Gehrig was, played by Gary Cooper in the movie, but to me he was one of the all time greats representing the pride of America, our national pastime …baseball.

John Kushma is a communication consultant and lives in Logan, Utah.


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