Baseball is and will always be an American pastime, regardless of publicity attempts from the Paisano’s rookie of the year. While the Red Sox finally did win the World Series, it wasn’t the only story in baseball last year. Roger Clemens won his seventh Cy Young award, setting the record for the most of all time held by one player, but that really wasn’t much of an accomplishment. Oh yeah, Ichiro Suzuki surpassed 258 hits in a single season, breaking one of baseballs longest standing records held by George Sisler for 84 years, but he doesn’t count because he’s a foreigner…right?
Some guy named Barry Bonds joined the elite 700 career home run club following Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron as the third player in history to have ever accomplished that, but I guess that didn’t really make a good story either.
I suppose everyone was too wrapped up in the Home Shopping Network to notice. For those who don’t know it, 2004 was a monumental year in professional baseball. All of the events listed above were publicized world-wide. Do you really think the people in downtown Tokyo didn’t catch the news when their country’s baseball prodigy, Ichiro Suzuki, brought down a long standing American record? Me neither.
Maybe MLB should have promoted more like the NBA, and maybe the moon is made of cheese.
Supposedly, the NBA receives a lot of its drawing power from promotions. Sure the NBA can promote Reggie’s ring dilemma, or some other competitor’s career, but that might prove to be a little difficult without any players to market to the fans.
Believe it or not, 85 percent of NBA players are African American. Enter Jackie Robinson, the man who paved the way for African Americans in America’s professional sports culture. When Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball in 1947, he opened up a new era in American sports. So what’s the point of this “boring” history lesson? His admission into Major League Baseball left lasting effects which eventually led to the emergence of colored superstars in other sports. For all the critics out there, you’re right, any average Joe with some determination and enough game probably could have done it too, and eventually, someone probably would have. But they didn’t, Robinson did.
Take away the legacy of Jackie Robinson, and the game he played, and take away colored superstars like Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Jerry Rice and even the great Michael Jordan. The truth is that time and time again, baseball has proven itself to the American people as more than just a game.
I’ve also been dying to ask: Do some baseball fans really get something from “seeing a player’s muscles increase drastically in size in a three year period?” Perhaps it “does it” for some. Perhaps some Ravens fan gets something out of watching NFL running back Jamal Lewis serve a four month sentence in a federal prison for drug conspiracy. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that no one does. True, baseball does have its problems, as seen this past year with the BALCO incident (which also involved the NFL), as well as Oscar winner Jose Conseco’s flaming accusations of various players steroid use which brought national attention. But every major sport has its troubles.
Even the world of golf saw its share when players on the PGA tour underwent scrutiny for using clubs that could carry the ball past normal hitting capacity. The great thing about baseball though is that it will rebound from these obstacles like it has so many other times in history. (The Great Depression, World War 2, the strikes in ’81 and ’99.)
It is a sport that has truly stood the test of time, much like the country that loves to turn it on. My guess is that’s why it’s been hailed for so long as the favorite pastime here. Whether or not it’s currently the favorite among Americans, is a question left for debate. In either case, baseball is, and will always be an American pastime, as well as the backbone of American culture. The MLB 2005 season has just begun, and is full of possibilities.
So as the bumpy road to the pennant unfolds this year, stop looking in the rearview mirror, and try keeping your eyes ahead on the optimistic future of Major League Baseball, a sport alive today with as much American enthusiasm as ever. Unless of course you find it too difficult to “muster up the energy to reach for the remote.” In that case, go back to your “bird watching.”
Jess Delz Sophomore