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Carrol Vertrees: Changes in baseball throw fan a curve

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: November 29, 2012 6:21AM



They are having that World Series thing again. Back home, we clever kids called it the world “serious.” We really were serious about it then, but now? I can’t even count how many big league teams there are.

It is possible, if the ball takes a funny bounce, for a “wild card” team to become champeens of the horsehide world. Humbug! Not this year, fortunately. The Tigers from Detroit are playing the Giants from San Francisco, formerly from the East, New York I think.

It is confusing, but baseball still is America’s game, I hear. It is infinitely more fun than horseshoes, Chinese checkers, euchre and the concussion exercise called pro football.

The game now is different from when managers and players chewed real tobacco and ejected real spit — downwind usually. Now they chew on sunflower seeds!

There is, though, a comforting constancy in big league baseball: I believe it was ordained from the dugout on high that the Cubs must not get into a World Series lest a beautiful custom be disturbed. Winning might spoil it.

It has been a while. I watched the Cubs in their last “world serious” back in 1945 against the Tigers. I was in Germany, and I watched it on radio, a swell way to follow the action — as a kid on the farm, we loved our radio view. The Cubs lost that one.

In 1929 they were in the big series against the Philadelphia Athletics. A guy named Mule Haas and his pals hit the Cubs with a 10-run inning and went on to take it all. The Athletics moved to Oakland out west, I think. I don’t know what happened to Mule.

I don’t know what division teams are in and I don’t care much. Many of the teams in baseball aren’t where they used to be. I still think of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who escaped to Hollywood or some place. I think that the Atlanta Braves started in Boston, but I am not sure.

For years there was a bunch called the Washington Senators — a team of born losers like some real senators. I think there is another team in Washington. Bipartisan, I hope.

Before the 1944 series between the St. Louis Cards and the St. Louis Browns, a writer said that neither team was good enough to win. The Cards did, though. I don’t know what happened to the Browns, but they may have ended up in a lost-and-found department, stuck there because nobody would claim them.

I have not been to a game for years, but sometimes I see a bit on television. Radio was more fun. In the 1945 series, an upper box ticket cost $7.50, about the price today of a hamburger and a drink. I liked it all better when there were two eight-team leagues and many games were played in the daylight of afternoon,

Weird stuff has happened to our national game. Now, a pitcher, also known as a slab man, can sleep through seven innings, then go in, throw a few and become a multimillionaire.

It takes forever to play a game. The pitcher wets his fingers, picks up an ugly little bag, looks down to the catcher and shakes his head. Finally, he nods — the catcher showed the right number of fingers, I reckon. Maybe the hurler is slow in finger counting. Then the batter steps out and adjusts his glove!

All of this delay promotes more hamburgers and beer.

The worst change, though, is seeing a manager chewing on sunflower seeds. It’s gross!



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