Take me out to the Old School Ball Game!
I am not about to begin this column by berating the game today. As is the case with all professional sports today, I remain steadfast in proclaiming that the games today are far superior to those of yesteryear.
The players are superior. They are in top shape all year long. They eat well, they work out all the time. They really care about themselves, because they know that there are hundreds of other hopefuls who would steal their jobs in a second, given the opportunity. The equipment is superior. Please refer to the shoulder pads that Bobby Hull wore his entire career: they would not be acceptable to a Pee Wee player today.
They skate better, they run faster, they are better fielders, they hit harder…whatever. They are just plain better.
Along with the modern day professional athlete comes a certain amount of baggage. Much of it falls into the general category of “attitude”. For the sake of argument, and for the sake of space, I will restrict my words to baseball.
1. Pants and socks.
For more than fifty years, players were required to wear pants just below the knee, with socks (stirrups) that covered the calf. That is no longer the case. There are a few players who are “old school” in this regard, but most players have pants that cover their shoes.
Many players today have enough objects around their necks to qualify for some foreign tribe. There are good luck necklaces; there are neck pieces to improve one’s performance, and one’s health.
I have no problem with tattoos. What bothers me is the size, location, and the description of the tattoos adorning major league baseball players today. Last time I looked, I did not see any tattoos on “Doc” Halladay. Maybe he has them, but they are not there for public display. Neck tattoos in particular drive me crazy.
4. The fans
The season is just now underway. The Blue Jays are expected to do well, and are not going to surprise any experts. They predicted good things for the Jays. But in the first few games, the bullpen squandered save opportunities, and let the opposition come from behind to steal a couple of wins. Segio Santos was the victim on two of these occasions. It is going to happen, girls and boys. The Toronto fan base booed mercilessly as Santos walked off the field on those occasions. That is a bush attitude.
I am sure that Santos did not appreciate this welcome to Toronto.
My soap box is beginning to teeter precariously. And yes, it is an old soap box.
For The Times, May 2, 2012