… at the Old Ball Game

January17/ 2000

… (A SSays Double Kleenex SPECIAL) … Somewhere around the 13th inning Sunday evening Mizzus Swagger came into our “home theatre” (aka “living room”) to ask “whatcha watching?” I said “a GREAT ballgame.”  She asked “who do we want to win?” I said “WE don’t care … it’s just a great game!”  In that simple exchange we find a pearl of sanity in the insane asylum known as “sports fandom”. …. No silly morality play of “we = good and they = evil” or “THEY better win so I can feel good”.  A rookie “utility player” lives out every sandlotter’s dream … IT WAS A VERY GOOD THING!

    I hope every mutha-lovin’ one of you caught at least part of Astros v Braves – Game 4 NLDS on Sunday.  It was not “the greatest baseball game I’ve ever watched”.  That will pretty much always be Pirates v Yankees – 7th Game 1960 World Series … aka the “Mazeroski Homer” game. It may not have even been #2 as that is probably Mets v Red Sox 6th Game 1986 World Series aka the “Bill Buckner game” … but I’m pretty sure this one was in the Top Five.


   That neither team was named Yankees or Red Sox was kind of a bonus for this “classic”.

   I didn’t have a dog in this latest fight.  I usually pull for the Braves because I knew John Schuerholz years ago when he was Asst GM for the Royals.  He is a class guy as is John Smoltz. Winning 14 consecutive division titles is Celtic-esque as an achievement.  I’m sure Brave “loonies” are in full “they choked AGAIN” rant this week but I don’t have to hear it. Both the teams Sunday night were “scrappy”.  I like “scrappy” baseball players. 

   SSays faithful know I am “a baseball fan”.  I got my social security card at 16 to hawk peanuts and crackerjacks in our local minor league ballpark.  I worked my way up to selling programs (where the “big bucks” were).  Meanwhile my running buddy “Duke Buck” was the batboy.  Three future MLB GMs were on the team in 1963 – Lou Gorman, Pete Peterson, and Gene Micheal.  Those were the days, my friends.

   For me “going to a (base) ballgame” is the ultimate in sports fandom.  The venues are beautiful and the sights, sounds, and smells can’t be beat.  The pace of baseball, which many decry, is part of the “why” I so enjoy watching the game.  You can carry on conversations with your buddies without having to concentrate 100% on the action.  But I bet you those 43,000 Astros fans in Minute Maid Park were concentrating pretty hard on every pitch from the 8th inning on Sunday.

   Two of my favorite SSays columns involve baseball games … A Royal Night W/ A King about watching a Royal-Yankee game w/ the legendary Clyde King … and a more recent account of being with Henderson’s Tommy Frazier and his son when ARod returned to Texas.  I also wrote about listening to baseball on the radio.  … “beeseball been veery veery enjoyable to me.”

   I realize most of the Braves & Astros are “millionaires” et al (but not Houston’s latest “Destiny’s Child” Chris Burke).  One of the neatest incidents of the game was after Burke’s walk-off homer when the millionairest Astro of them all (Roger Clemens) backed away from the cameras to let “the rookie” have his moment with the info-babe.  In a game like this all the crap in sports is set aside … No Kenny Rogers hitting a cameraman … no Raffy wagging his juiced finger … no “free agents” and NO AGENTS at all … it was just “Baseball”.  (hey, whatever happened to Francisco Cabrerra – he was in a darn exciting game too “SLIDE SID SLIDE!”) 

… Managers juggling line-ups like hot baked potatoes  … 

… bang bang plays … 

… the Brave rookie peeks at the ball instead of his 3rd base coach and gets nailed at the plate … 

…TWO Grand Slams … 

… the 2-out bottom of the 9th homer hitting “the yellow line”.  

… and “The Rocket” takes the mound when his skipper said “I need you”. … … yes indeed 

… … and the only “loonies” involved were the delirious Astros celebrating like Little Leaguers at Williamsport.  I wonder if Phil Garner took the whole team to Chuckie Cheese for pizza after the game?

   You folks know I do love “the color and pageantry” of college football.  I have “a good time” whether or not “the team lets me down” (I still love Ol’ Roy’s reply to that crap …); but tell me I can only watch one sport and I’ll choose to sit in the bleachers with the Fraziers, Duke Buck, “Ray Kinsella” and Clyde King and watch Crash Davis and Ebby Calvin LaLoosh play a twi-nighter. … 

… don’t you know that all the Crash Davis’ from 100+ years of baseball circled those bases stride for stride with “the rookie” Chris Burke in that 18th inning on Sunday night.  I bet Horace Mewborn, Tom Hayes, “Prince Albert” and John Rudisell were running right with him too. … and Archie “Moonlight” Graham FOR SURE.


    Random After-Thoughts from Week Six:   Algroh has suspended his cheapshot lineman for this week’s game. That seems appropriate since the BC player was not injured.  A faction of Hoo howler monkeys are defending the indefensible act … just as Wuff and Heel howler monkeys would do.  #1 Rule of Howler Monkeys – If “they” do “it” – HANG’EM … if “we” do “it” – IT’S THE REFS FAULT, THE MEDIA’S FAULT OR OUR AD’S FAULT!

   The Looeyville rout WAS worse than last year’s Ute rout because so many fans saw this one live on TV.  All embarrassing routs should be played after 10:00 PM EST and NEVER televised.  Dickie was the one who arranged the TV coverage … just another part of his evil plan! … speaking of “evil plans” apparently UNC’s Internut Howler Monkeys, although outraged at Saturday’s outcome, have decided to “wait until the end of the season” before officially lynching John Bunting from the flag pole behind South Building.  Magnanimous of’em, don’t you think?

   Speakin’ of hangin’ coaches … don’t forget that other no-account alumni coach Anson Whatshisname and his flyin’ ponytails … that bum lost AT HOME to DOOK 2-1 on Sunday.  “If Baddour and Meezer carried about Carolina having a top-notch Chick Soccer program they would “do something” … but noooooo all they care about is Field Hockey and Volleyball“.  

   Hokie Jim’s campaign to Flush-The-Punks out of Blacksburg’s F-Bomb Alley appears successful.  Greatly increased uniformed security was the key PLUS the security “used common sense” (ie. NO Officer Swains).  Our Congrats to Hokie Jim and his Punk Flushing vigilantes.  To quote “Buford” Alderson … “ain’t it amazing what one stubborn curmudgeon with a website can make happen?” … INDEED!

   On a related note … Wake’s highly respected AD Ron Wellman recently issued a “No Tolerance For Punks” statement to insure that visiting fans to Groves Stadium are treated hospitably by the home fans.  Not surprising that Ron would support such a move.  He’s a very smart man.  … Speaking of Deacons … Jay Haas won his first Champions Tour event in Hickory on Sunday.  BobLee chatted with the always “good guy” Jay at the Rock Barn course earlier in the week.  He just beat out Loren Roberts, another very “good guy”.  I’m REAL partial to “good guys” if you haven’t noticed!


 Swagger’s Stumper

 (repeating a past Stumper favorite)

Crash Davis’ coach w/ the Bulls quit baseball once …

What was his short-lived 2nd career?


    The St Louis Cardinals played in Sportsman’s Park prior to Busch Stadium.  No offense to Boston or Chicago but ST. LOUIS is THE best baseball town on EARTH!

   Swaggy is heading to the Left Coast this weekend … BobLee’s annual charity soiree with Sly Stallone, Jimmy Caan, Big Game James and assorted luminaries at Riviera CC in Pacific Palisades.  Likely a column or two will result (tax write-off don’t cha know!).  Going to check “see Rose Bowl” off my “before I die I’m gonna …” list.

   BobLee at Concord Rotary this Thursday at 7:30 AM.  Greenville Touchdown Club in Gville SC on Oct 24 …!!

   Watch those baseball playoffs … every game could be ANOTHER CLASSIC! 

Have YOU told every one of your like-minded pals about SSays yet?  Just Do It!  Our pal Jim plugged a messa “old Rawlee boys” in the other day.

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