Favorite Teams

I heard from a number of my baseball friends today, checking in to make sure that I was okay after the double whammy of regular season collapses for both of the teams that I follow closely. The Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves historically failed to make the 2011 Postseason .. in spectacular fashion.  I do not have to recap the gut wrenching play by play on this blog, there is plenty of that to go around, but I will admit that it is therapeutic to have a personal baseball site where I can share my experience.

Without burying the lede, I will come right out and admit that I am doing fine!  Maybe in my younger years it would have taken weeks or months to get over this, but thanks to Baseballisms, Twitter, and an entire social network of baseball fans, I have discovered a finer appreciation of all that is Baseball. The game of Baseball with a capital “B”, supersedes my disappointment at the outcome.  Would I have preferred that my teams were preparing today to make a playoff run? Sure, but the shared social experience of Games 162 of the 2011 regular season was something that I am glad to have been a part of.

It was thrilling. There are only a few times in my baseball watching life that were more enjoyable. It is not the outcome but the experience of epic baseball that rules for me now.  That hasn’t always been the case. Maybe it’s a maturity, maybe it’s recognizing the generational aspect of the game and thinking about passing along this passion to my young girls.  Most of all, I keep coming back to one thing about last night .. it was amazing to sit on my couch, flip MLB Package feeds, check the AtBat App, and share the night with thousands of equally connected fans, all enjoying the moment.

Baseball is social.

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#StLCards fans have the great fortune of a long and storied legacy from their home town ball team.  Cardinals fans can revisit teams spanning the entire century for a glimpse at defining moments and legendary players in the history of the game of baseball.

On this episode of Cover the Bases we speak with Alan Ross, the author of Cardinals Glory: For the Love of Dizzy, Ozzie, and the Man, published by Turner Publishing.  His book spans the history of the St. Louis Cardinals up to the 2004 season, using quotes and anecdotes collected from the players, media, fans and management to bring to life this glorious history.

Our conversation immediately starts by trying to define where Albert Pujols fits into the grand scheme of Cardinal greats, and we are both convinced that St. Louis is witnessing a pantheon type player in real time.

Alan brings up the challenges that historians will have defining the players who were playing during the steroids era, and the focus that Mark McGwire brings to the Cardinals franchise because of the controversy.

The Cardinals benefited for decades from the flagship radio station KMOX, a clear 50,000 watt station that could be heard all over the country.  Many fans spent days and nights following the team through these broadcasts without ever getting a chance to see the team in person.  This contributed to the mystique of the ballplayers and help propel the legacy to a much wider audience.

Alan is obviously a lover of the history of the game of baseball and we even reminisce about the old wooden ballparks, built right into the neighborhoods of the cities. They brought the teams closer to the fans, as the facilities became great shrines to the teams that they housed.

The Gashouse Gang of the 1930′s is Alan’s favorite of Cardinals history, and he wished he could get into a time capsule to see the play of Dizzy Dean, Pepper Martin, Ducky Medwich, managed by Frankie Frisch.  This scrappy, “dirty” bunch played a style of baseball that won them the World Series title in 1934 over the Detroit Tigers.

We turn towards the most influential Cardinal of all, Stan “The Man” Musial.  Sometimes, we lose a bit of perspective regarding the players of years past, but the beauty of baseball is that we can look at some key information that will remind us of how great a player had been.  In preparation for this podcast I collected the following incredible facts -  22 seasons, 3 MVP’s, 7 Batting Championships, 3,630 hits .. and three World Series Championships!

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Fan Dave Schaub’s submission to Baseballisms.com reprinted with permission.  Note – Author Cecilia Tan discusses this World Series Game 7 during her appearance on our Cover the Bases podcast. Giants fan’s emotions are expressed in this Peanuts Comic Strip. Thanks Dave!

Trying to think back on that autumn day in October of 1962…I was a transplanted Canadian, having just moved to the U.S.A. in July…but baseball was already in my blood.  Beginning with the 1960 season, I’d followed the game with a quasi-religious passion.  Nothing compared to baseball’s grip on the sporting world then…well, in team sports…in America.  In Canada, we had hockey, and I’d lived my first 11 years in Toronto, still hallowed hockey ground…but I wasn’t good enough to play.  And hockey was just another sport in the U.S., as I was quickly coming to learn.

Now, baseball.  That was different.  Back then, the only reliable game to see on TV was NBC’s “Game Of The Week.”  And in Toronto, where there would surely never be BIG league baseball, we watched and listened to Pee Wee Reese and Dizzy Dean, two delightful old ex-ballplayers, on a station we picked up from Buffalo every Saturday; and almost every week, or so it seemed, they were in Yankee Stadium.  Just like “Hockey Night In Canada” every Saturday night was ALWAYS from Maple Leaf Gardens.  Symmetry.  Predictable.  As I became a Yankee fan, their fabulous history was slowly recounted to me…or else I’d read all about it in the sports magazines.

By ’62, I was already a “grizzled veteran” as a fan of the 1960 pennant race with those pesky Orioles; a heartbreaking World Series loss to those darned Pirates; an incredible Year of the Home Run in ’61 with the M&M Boys; and My First Taste of Glory, in five games, over Cincinnati.  Little did I know that most baseball fans didn’t get to have two seasons in a row that good for their team, sometimes ever.  So all was going well as the Yanks advanced to their 3rd straight Series.  But this year, it could be tough again.  Willie McCovey.  Willie Mays.  Jim Davenport.  The Alou Brothers.  They won a 3-game playoff with the Dodgers, who I liked better back then (prettier uniforms; I really didn’t know the history). [click to continue…]

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