God pity them both! and pity us all,
Who vainly the dreams of youth recall.
For of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: “The baseball season is at its end!”
With apologies to John Greenleaf Whittier, to Maud Muller herself, and to what might have been, the baseball season will be over tomorrow. And though the season has been bastardized by Bud Selig and his interleague games, the increasing swiftness by which the most perfect six months of each year pass only reinforces the sad truth that we’re not getting any younger.
Balderdash, I say! During the baseball season we all get younger, even the naysayers and the disbelievers. Even the manager of the Houston Astros, whoever that poor fellow happens to be.
As Pirates fans are about to remember, nothing can beat October baseball, unless, of course, you can somehow find yourself propped in the rightfield upper deck of Memorial Stadium on a balmy night with an ice cold Boh in hand, a baseball game at your feet and a view of an orange midsummer sun setting over Baltimore’s rowhouses.
The game gets into us; the time of the first pitch — 7:05, 1:35, 4:05, 10:35 — dictates our day, and the pace of our day. It gets the table cleared and the dishes washed by 6:30. It’s what keeps us up until 2 o’clock on a foggy September morning to watch all 18 blasted innings of a depressing walk-off loss at the height of a postseason chase — a failed postseason chase at that. Imagine the absurdity of committing such an irresponsible act, but it’s necessary to see it through, and for six months it defines us. These are the saddest words of all: The baseball season has come to an end!
They say the beauty of the baseball season is there is always a game tomorrow. But until tomorrow’s game begins, you live with the game of last night. It’s what drives you up the wall in the days following your team blowing two straight save situations. Even though your team is a lock for the postseason, you still want to the win the division, even though you said you would be perfectly content to accomplish your first winning season in 20.
Yes, we’ve come this far, we must see it through.
The great Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, who should be in the writers’ wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame, once relayed the story of how he and former Orioles manager Earl Weaver undertook a baseball discussion in the dugout two hours prior to a game. As both Boswell and Weaver became engrossed in the discussion, they lost track of the time until the National Anthem began to play.
As though being snapped from a dream, Boswell realized the game was about to begin and he was still in the dugout well past the time reporters were permitted to be. He apologized profusely for taking up too much of Weaver’s time, but Weaver told him, “Don’t worry about it, kid. This ain’t football. We do this everyday.”
It was Boswell who said, “Baseball’s true secret is that, for those who appreciate and value it, it has no secrets.” And the most fundamental truth of all is that the regular season begins in April and ends in late September or early October.
Unfair as it seems, the summer is over. Has been for a week now, bringing to mind the words of the late A. Bartlett Giamatti, who wrote, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
Summer is anticipatory. Summer is on the go. Summer is wonderful. Summer is adventurous, and it’s melancholy all in one. And this summer was met in these parts with all the more anticipation and all the more excitement because there were three contending big league teams on our televisions and radios and within a two-hour drive every day of the season.
And now summer is bid goodbye with more melancholy. But as Whittier wrote to conclude “Maud Muller,”
Ah, well! for us all some sweet hope lies
Deeply buried from human eyes;
And, in the hereafter, angels may
Roll the stone from its grave away!
Pitchers and catchers, after all, report in 136 days.
Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
God pity them both! and pity us all,
- Mike Burke - Sports
At times we all should allow for a little flex
Other than when I was a student in the Allegany County Public Schools System, I’ve always believed the most thankless job there is — or at least one of the most thankless jobs there is — belongs to the person who ultimately hits the switch on whether or not to call off school because of the weather. You’re slammed if you do, you’re slammed if you don’t. No matter what you decide it’s no win, but, like managing a baseball team or running a bar, everybody knows they could do it.
A treasured member of the family of baseball
When a former professional football player from our past dies, he is most often remembered as being one tough son of a gun, or a wonderful runner or pass catcher, or as a brilliant quarterback.
Bob Giffin believed in the goodness of us all
The first time the Giffin family exploded onto my radar was at a Fort Hill basketball game years ago in the old Fort Hill gym. Believe it was a City game, which meant the place was packed, the walls were sweating and the smell of popcorn permeated the atmosphere. And through it all marched the family Giffin in perfect formation, tallest in the front, shortest in the back, led by father Lew, mother Donna, oldest son Bob, second son Tom, third son Donnie and fourth son Johnnie.
Redskins do that voodoo that they do so well
This time last year the Washington Redskins were in the midst of a seven-game winning streak on their way to the NFC East title. Mike Shanahan was being hailed as the perfect football presence the franchise had sorely needed for so long. Quarterback Robert Griffin III in the sprint option was being hailed as the single greatest invention since the wheel, and beleaguered Daniel Snyder, the little owner who couldn’t, was being hailed for not even trying as he allowed his two-time Super Bowl winning coach and lord of all things football to pull the strings on all things football.
Fort Hill’s approach is all-inclusive
After Fort Hill opened everybody’s eyes last season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year (*1), it was a pretty sure bet that the Sentinels, given all of their returning resources, would be making a run for the state championship this year (*2).
What resource will the O’s allocate next?
In November 1993, Dan Duquette, then the general manager of the Montreal Expos, traded second baseman Delino DeShields to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a young pitcher by the name of Pedro Martinez. According to a story in last Sunday’s New York Times, upon completing the deal, Duquette, now general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, told Neal Huntington, then a member of the Expos front office and now the general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates, “This trade is going to be hated in Montreal.”
No month of Sundays this Friday
With Fort Hill comfortably in control Friday night in its eventual 46-7 1A West Region semifinal victory over Manchester Valley, and with score updates from the other semifinal pouring in from nearby Washington County, Greenway Avenue Stadium was abuzz, for the unthinkable was about to take place — Fort Hill was going to play Hancock.
Ty Johnson works hard, and makes it look easy
Any summer day you might go to Greenway Avenue Stadium to get a little exercise you are likely to see any number of high school athletes there working out — football players, soccer players, basketball players, any kind of player you might want to think of.
Think back, you know these guys
Just to prepare you for when you ask, “Who are those guys?” Tonight the guys dressed in blue and white playing Chestnut Ridge will be the Allegany Campers.
Is managing big enough in the Ripken big picture?
Cal Ripken Jr. says he has the itch to return to baseball, and most of Washington seems eager to scratch it for him by crowning him manager of the Nationals.
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