November 11, 2011

Grand slams and unbridled joy

When I look back at my time as a baseball fan, I naturally reflect back to my years growing up. Even though I never played little league baseball, I was always drawn to the game.

I remember “different” things; like Willie McCovey’s deliberate warm up swings as he stepped into the batter’s box. He always looked so big and imposing. Seems like I every time I saw him on television he was hitting grand slams. Even though I know that wasn’t the case – my earliest recollection of any grand slam is of him (he did hit 18 in his career).



Looking back at him now - he seems much smaller than I remember him. Funny how that works.

My fondest memories about baseball are more about the celebrations that took place rather than the actual event. I’m talking about the unbridled joy players have expressed when they’ve just been a part of a big moment.

I love seeing athletes celebrate special moments in sports. I love it when it’s unscripted and demonstrates pure joy. I hate celebrations that pre-planned or more along the lines of “mugging for the camera.”

Kirk Gibson rounding the bases after his pinch-hit homerun in the 1988 World Series was pure joy on display. A player standing to watch one of his homeruns leave the yard on the other hand leaves something to be desired. Give me the guy running around on the field with his hat flying off and his arms swinging in all different directions over the guy who stops to purposely pose for the camera any day of the week.

I’m talking Tug McGraw kind of enthusiasm.



When I think back to my early days of watching baseball – I always remember Tug McGraw. I remember his intensity. Watching him wear his emotions on his sleeve was always compelling to me. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and when he did something great – watching him celebrate was magical.

That kind of enthusiasm still makes an appearance every now and sometimes we’re lucky enough to see it happening and if we’re really lucky – we get to take part in it.

Which reminds of a question I have to ask. Why do people leave early when games are close? Watching a walk-off win - especially in person is about a great a sports moment as there is. I will never understand it when people leave games when things are tight.

In closing this post... I wanted to say a few words about this blog.

I’ve been absent from this blog for quite some time now and I thought this would be a fitting way to re-engage myself and anyone kind enough to read what I have to write.

When I started The Baseball Docent, I started the blog as an outlet for all my baseball thoughts that weren’t necessarily about the Angels (I blog about them at True Grich). My real goal was to engage friends, acquaintances, and just about anyone who had a voice to participate in this thing. I love to hear why people love baseball and I love reading or hearing about their stories and memories.

I hope to get back to making regular contributions to this blog and more importantly will again try to reach out and get others to participate.

Baseball is about joy for me and I’ll leave you with this nice little piece about the Texas Rangers front office – who had reason to celebrate in game 2 of the ALCS when Nelson Cruz hit a walk-off grand slam.

Thad Levine, the Rangers assistant GM had this to say about the event and the celebration that took place from the suite where he and his colleagues were watching…

"We don't aspire to be the professional group that acts like we've been there," assistant GM Thad Levine said. "We want to celebrate every one of these minutes as if it may be the last. When somebody in our group, and Nellie is in our group, does something special like that, we want to celebrate it and remember that forever. The experiences are the currency of life and Nellie gave us one [Monday] and we're not going to miss it."

Here, here.

Welcome back to the Baseball Docent folks.

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