Spring is in the Air and so is America’s Pastime

Rockland County Times Staff Editorial

The 2012 baseball season is just getting started and it seems that every year on Opening Day there’s a special feeling in the air.

It’s not like any sport or game. There’s something about baseball that’s different. It’s the smell of the grass, it’s the memories of playing catch with your dad or Little League.

It’s something in our culture that hopefully will never die, the spirit of the uniquely American game of baseball. Such a charmed game it is, with all its peculiar features and traditions.

It’s a game of inches they say. So many plays freakishly close to going in the absolute other direction. Moreso than any other sport, luck and the gods have their say in baseball. You can hit a blast and have it count as an out or hit a dribbling ground ball and be the hero.

Why is America forgetting her pastime, baseball?

Every Opening Day you still feel the tradition, the purity, as if there’s some goofy hope in watching grown men play a kid’s game. But when it comes time to the World Series, it’s not the same as it used to be. Football and the Super Bowl have taken its place.

Is it the money that has downgraded baseball? Why is such a violent game as football taking baseball’s rightful place? And how can those who agree that baseball, was, is and forever shall be America’s pastime, win the moment back?

The great Babe Ruth said in his farewell speech, “The only real game — I think — in the world, baseball.”

Then he explained why baseball is so real to him. He said, “As a rule, some people think if you give them a football, or a baseball, or something like that — naturally they’re athletes right away. But you can’t do that in baseball.

“You’ve gotta start from way down [at] the bottom, when you’re six or seven years of age. You can’t wait until you’re 15 or 16. You gotta let it grow up with you.”

Something rings very true about that and maybe that is why baseball fans take the game more personally than fans who like another sport ahead of baseball, take their game.

Babe Ruth, who used to hang around in Haverstraw village in the 1920s, was the ultimate sports hero. It was almost considered a sin to break any of his records, but alas, all records are meant to be broken. When America forgets baseball, is she forgetting her heroes? And her roots?

The gentleman’s game of baseball is the one that originally captured the hearts and imagination of the American people and it was the World Series that was the Fall Classic long before the gladiator-like commercial exhibition of the Super Bowl won over the short attention spans of new generations.

Nothing wrong with football, nothing wrong with the Super Bowl. Heck, it is only one game, whereas the World Series is a best of seven games, so it makes sense that it’s more of a spectacle. But remember, baseball is a more gentlemanly and family friendly game, and there is something pure about its energy.

Don’t give up on baseball, it’s our pastime and like Babe Ruth said, “The only real game…in the world.”

Enjoy the 2012 season!

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