|November 1, 1999
GRAND RAPIDS - Well, as if you haven't heard already, it is World Series time again. Myself, I could not care less. But it does seem as though this year is somewhat different, somewhat special.
Those of us who have grown up watching and listening to the Detroit Tigers, have this year seen the last game in Tigers Stadium ever. This, in itself, gives one at least a slight sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach. A feeling which has remained in mine ever since the last strike.
Although I have seen many games at Tiger Stadium, and have lived in Michigan since I have been able to recollect anything at all, I have never found myself more than remotely attached to the Tigers.
No, when it comes to baseball I have always been a Phillies fan. Obviously not because of their stellar winning percentage, for they are the losers of losers in that department. Actually, I think it was always the fact that the fans in Philadelphia never failed to show up to the games (even if it was only to boo or to throw stuff).
In a weird Philadelphia sort of way, the fans there never stopped showing loyalty to a team they knew would never bring them much in the way of victory. I liked that. The team has always had a "never say die" attitude as well.
This inevitably created some fantastic games.
Some were over six hours long. Some in which the same Philly would get two home runs in the same inning. Some in which the Phillies would score almost 30 runs. Add in the odd unassisted triple play and you could bet that just about anything could happen at a Phillies game.
This month some things happened which relate to all of this, and I would like to fill you in on the "real" (read "in my opinion") story behind the events. The first is the injury to Michael Irvin in the Cowboys game against the Eagles.
Yes, the response of the crowd was vicious, uncalled for, inhumane, and all those other things that it was called in the press. The one thing that it was not called is unexpected. It is in fitting with the character of the stereotypical Philadelphia sports fan. No, I would not and do not condone their response. But why act like we are all surprised when given the history of fan behavior in Philadelphia it is the exact response that you ought to expect?
The unfortunate thing which adds to the above mentioned sinking stomach feeling, is that I imagine that because of all the stink that is being made about this there will be new "rules and regulations" about fan behavior in Philadelphia, as well as elsewhere, and in the end it will only serve to drive away even more people from what used to be a really great game.
The next thing that happened was that in defiance of orders barring it, one Pete "I still wish I could do something better with my hair" Rose showed up at the World Series, proving for the world that no one takes anything that has to do with baseball seriously any more.
In a way, I think that it is a good thing.
It does undermine the whole authority structure involved, and baseball has been guilty of taking itself too seriously for at least 50 years anyway. But there is a down side as well. It brings publicity to the sport which will prolong an already lengthy and painful demise. So here again builds the hard knot-like rock in my stomach.
The final thing which occurred this week topped it all off. (By the way, this is the part you have been waiting for. Patiently, I might add.) For completely professional reasons, I decided that it would be a good idea to see for myself what sort of impact the above mentioned incidents might have on the World Series, and baseball as a whole.
So I decided to temporarily, and again for professional reasons alone, lift my personal boycott of Major League Baseball, and watch the game. Fortunately, I also decided to tape it, should I see something happening which would warrant more review later. Much to my disappointment, Pete Rose's role was insignificant, the fans were well behaved, and nothing gave any appearance of anything out of the ordinary whatsoever, except for the guy who threw out the first pitch.
I was in the process of getting ready to watch the game, grabbing some cheese crackers and beer, when out of the corner of my eye I saw the ceremonial throw. Some guy who actually looked like a ball player instead of a blue-haired geriatrics patient with a gold plate on the stadium wall was throwing out the ball.
I was in the kitchen and so couldn't see him all that well, but the throw could have been seen a mile away! WOW! That guy throws like a girl!!
I was almost on the floor I was laughing so hard! Here was this guy who looked like a ball player, so I naturally expected the first pitch to actually make it to the plate for a change, and here he is throwing like Granny Clampett from the beverly Hillbillies!! Oh sweet Melissa I hope Pete Rose saw that! It might make even him wish he had stayed home.
After it became apparent that the Yankees were going to win, I decided that I needed to see it again and laugh some more, so I rewound. It is actually more entertaining than the game! This time, however, I was on the couch right in front of the TV.
There he was, a southpaw, looking a little like a cross between Mark McGuire and...no, it couldn't be. It was!!! Yes, right there in front of my face was Mike Murphy throwing out the first pitch at the 1999 World Series and looking like the biggest sissy who ever sashayed across the planet!
It was even more funny now, because I could see the upset faces of the "suits" who accompany the guest of honor to the mound for this deal. They grew very stern looking and very red. A couple of them made very obviously gruff word-like noises at our friend Murph before escorting him out of the building, although you couldn't hear them on TV.
It seems that Mike has been venturing out on the web more frequently these days and has discovered ebay. The spot for throwing out the first pitch was up for auction and he grabbed it. The "sissy" throw was made in protest of all of the destructive non-game related battles which are destroying the game as we know it. It was done, he says, "to exemplify the attitudes and behavior of those who control this game, who in the midst of men act like little girls". Or something like that.
So here you have a vidcap from that wonderful event, and if you are anything like me you also have a certain heaviness in your stomach, which is starting to feel more and more like a baseball all the time.
Next: If You Can't Lick 'Em....