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Tag Archive: America

Oct 19

A look back at my columns about the Kansas City Royals: Part 7 — Baseball and the Royals, a hope that springs eternal. First published April 7, 2011, in The Examiner, an Eastern Jackson County, Mo., daily newspaper.

Baseball and the Royals, a hope that springs eternal.

Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True.
And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.?– George F. Will

I might just burst with excitement if I don’t say this before I start waxing poetic about baseball. How about those Royals!

I feel better. Now, on to my story.

Baseball fever is here, and many of us have the bug. It happens every spring.

More than flowers or sunshine or April showers, it is baseball that is our true April love. It has been that way as long as most of us can remember.

After all, baseball is America’s game. Granted it may have gone global, but we invented it, and we love it.

In fact, we love it so much, that when opening day of baseball season finally arrives, folks take off work often braving bitter temperatures and cold rain just to watch. You know the drill.

Some of us have to be there. Period.

Others of us prefer the coziness of our homes or offices on opening day, but make no mistake, we are paying attention just the same.

Each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible (i.e. how about those Royals), for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series. The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

If they can be all things, then so can we. At least that is our hope each and every spring.

To be on the safe side, we throw up a silent prayer along with our hopes, “Please do not break our hearts this season!” How well we remember last year when our home team had an indescribably miserable and embarrassing record, we lament.

Let’s face it. Some years, it is nearly impossible to be a fan. We pray it will not be such a year. We pray hard.

“No more 3 to 2 losses in the ninth, please,” we beg.

“No more pitchers losing their groove.”

“No more batting slumps by our star hitter.”

Ernest Lawrence Thayer understood our baseball psyche, our worries, and desperate baseball prayers such as these as long ago as 1888. That is when he wrote “Casey at the Bat”, the single most famous baseball poem ever written. “Casey at the Bat” was first published June 3, 1888, in the San Francisco Examiner.

Another writer Albert Spalding once wrote of it, “Love has its sonnets galore. War has its epics in heroic verse. Tragedy, its somber story in measured lines. Baseball has Casey at the Bat.”

In his legendary poem, Thayer describes a baseball hero, the mighty Casey who is advancing to the bat just in time to save the day for Mudville’s home team.

It is fun to remember some of the poem’s perfectly written verses. Here are some excerpts:
“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day.
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play…
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to the hope that springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that,
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat…
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped,
‘That ain’t my style,’ said Casey. ‘Strike one,’ the umpire said…
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, ‘Strike two’…”

Thus the legendary story goes, but let us pretend we don’t know how badly the game ended.

After all, it is April. Baseball season has just begun and all things are possible once again.

Case in point. I have the fever and cannot for the life of me resist saying one more time “How about those Royals.”

Mar 08

From my archived columns: Baseball and the Royals, a hope that springs eternal

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True.
And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.” – George F. Will

Surprise Stadium

I might just burst with excitement if I don’t say this before I start waxing poetic about baseball. How about those Royals!

I feel better. Now, on to my story.

Baseball fever is here, and many of us have the bug. It happens every spring.

More than flowers or sunshine or April showers, it is baseball that is our true April love. It has been that way as long as most of us can remember.

After all, baseball is America’s game. Granted it may have gone global, but we invented it, and we love it.

In fact, we love it so much, that when opening day of baseball season finally arrives, folks take off work often braving bitter temperatures and cold rain just to watch. You know the drill.

Some of us have to be there. Period.

Others of us prefer the coziness of our homes or offices on opening day, but make no mistake, we are paying attention just the same.

Each spring, baseball makes us believe all over again that all things are possible (i.e. how about those Royals), for a few weeks at least.

Any team can win the Pennant on opening day, maybe even the World Series. The worst team in the league can be at 500 in mere days. The coaches have winning records, and the pitchers have great stats. Every batter can be Babe Ruth, every fielder Jackie Robinson, on opening day.

If they can be all things, then so can we. At least that is our hope each and every spring.

To be on the safe side, we throw up a silent prayer along with our hopes, “Please do not break our hearts this season!” How well we remember last year when our home team had an indescribably miserable and embarrassing record, we lament.

Let’s face it. Some years, it is nearly impossible to be a fan. We pray it will not be such a year. We pray hard.

“No more 3 to 2 losses in the ninth, please,” we beg.

“No more pitchers losing their groove.”

“No more batting slumps by our star hitter.”

Ernest Lawrence Thayer understood our baseball psyche, our worries, and desperate baseball prayers such as these as long ago as 1888. That is when he wrote “Casey at the Bat”, the single most famous baseball poem ever written. “Casey at the Bat” was first published June 3, 1888, in the San Francisco Examiner.

Another writer Albert Spalding once wrote of it, “Love has its sonnets galore. War has its epics in heroic verse. Tragedy, its somber story in measured lines. Baseball has Casey at the Bat.”

In his legendary poem, Thayer describes a baseball hero, the mighty Casey who is advancing to the bat just in time to save the day for Mudville’s home team.

It is fun to remember some of the poem’s perfectly written verses. Here are some excerpts:
“The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day.
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play…
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to the hope that springs eternal in the human breast;
They thought, if only Casey could get but a whack at that,
We’d put up even money, now, with Casey at the bat…
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped,
‘That ain’t my style,’ said Casey. ‘Strike one,’ the umpire said…
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the spheroid flew;
But Casey still ignored it and the umpire said, ‘Strike two’…”

Thus the legendary story goes, but let us pretend we don’t know how badly the game ended.

After all, it is April. Baseball season has just begun and all things are possible once again.

Case in point. I have the fever and cannot for the life of me resist saying one more time “How about those Royals.”

Feb 02

The Super Bowl is a mind-boggling American holiday

“Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season.
One word and one word only: Superbowl.”
– Bill Peterson, American football coach, known as the “Coach of Coaches”

Throughout most of America and in many places around the world, millions of us are thinking of one word right about now, well actually two, Super Bowl. We probably thought of it all season, too.

I don’t know if this is true, but a sports pundit said recently that more people would watch the Super Bowl this year than voted in the last presidential election.

The numbers from food consumed to the cost of television commercials become even more mind-boggling than the number of viewers.

Take a look at these numbers, for example:

  • CNBC notes that 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed this weekend.
  • SBNation.com explains that Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest day for food consumption trailing only Thanksgiving Day, a holiday that is all about food. SBNation adds that the average viewer will consume 1,200 calories just during the game alone (I’m feeling fat already.).
  • According to the Nielson Group, Americans will consume 8 million pieces of pizza,
  • 46 million pounds of potato chips and 71 million pounds of guacamole.
  • I couldn’t find statistics on beer consumption, but seriously, if we are eating 8 million pieces of pizza, a lot of folks are going to get thirsty.
  • If you are going to order a pizza, call early. Last year, Pizza Hut, Dominoes and Papa John’s received twice as many takeout orders than on any other day of the year, that according to Bleacher Report.
  • As for total number of viewers–111 million last year.
  • The expected number of viewers in 2012, again according to Bleacher Report, should exceed last year with people watching in 232 countries speaking 34 different languages.
  • Television commercials will make up more than 45 minutes of the game-day broadcast. Ads will cost more than $100,000 per second with each half-minute spot costing 3.5 million dollars.
  • According to the online ticket price broker TiqIQ, the average price for a Super Bowl ticket in Indianapolis is $3,984.73.

Super Bowl Sunday with its mind-boggling stats is more than a game; it’s an American holiday that millions celebrate with their own traditions even though most of us don’t really have a horse in the race, if you will. More than likely, as in the case of Kansas City Chiefs fans, your team didn’t make it to the Super Bowl.

Still, we love to watch the game, the highly creative commercials and the unpredictability and pageantry of the half time show.

The Super Bowl is a holiday we look forward to all football season, and it is a day, admit it, that most of us do not want to spend alone. It’s depressing not to celebrate.

Some people prefer small gatherings of family and friends, fun parties for small children that nearly resemble birthday parties, or large, raucous parties.

One thing all these celebrations have in common is our outright love for chowing down on fatty, greasy, high-calorie food, when for one day at least, we do it without a shred of guilt. It is accepted. It is the norm.

In fact, a vegan told me she eats pepperoni pizza on Super Bowl Sunday without giving it a second thought and actually looks forward to eating it all year. She has to, she says, it wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without a pizza. It’s a national tradition.

And consider this thought from Americanfood.about.com as you consume your 1,200 calories during the game: “If you are wondering where all this festive frivolity leads to the following Monday, there’s a 20 percent increase in the sale of antacids and an estimated 7 million employees will not show up for work.”

Super Bowl Sunday only happens once a year, so buy some Tums, eat pizza, chicken wings, nachos, chips and salsa, fries, and of course, the guacamole.

Go for it, I say, but please don’t call me in the morning.

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