Musings by a Baseball Fan

I love watching the Texas Rangers play baseball!  I am a little biased on this front, but if you haven’t had a chance to watch them play, you are missing out on the most entertaining team around.  They are the reason I have rediscovered my love for America’s game.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my NASCAR and my football, but there is just something about baseball that I truly love.  This game has been around since the 19th century.  It has seen many changes, but the core of it has remained the same.  To quote a famous movie line…”you throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball”.  It is simple as that.

I have been a fan of baseball since I can remember.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are watching baseball games with my parents.  We used to go to the Amarillo Gold Sox minor league games.  They were the farm team for San Diego Padres back in the day.  We would always sit behind the visitors dugout because we could sit in the box seats for a fair price.  It was fun.  Because they were part of the San Diego Padres farm system, the San Diego Chicken would come and visit from time to time.  If you do not know who the San Diego Chicken is, well, then you don’t know baseball.  I still have my autographed photo of the Chicken.  The Padres were supposed to come play the Gold Sox for an exhibition game, but due to the baseball strike is was a no go.  Let’s just say I was very disappointed baseball fan.

I remember hearing about the Big Red Machine from my father.  He is the reason I am a huge fan of Pete Rose.  I know he gambled on baseball, but I still believe he should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  He was amazing to watch on the baseball diamond.  Along with Pete Rose, I loved watching Johnny Bench behind the plate.  He is the best catcher of all time.  Pudge Rodriguez, a former Ranger, is right up there in my book next to Johnny Bench.  I consider Nolan Ryan the best pitcher of all time–hands down.  He is the strike out king and has seven no hitters.  I am pretty sure Robin Ventura feels the same way even after his beat down by Mr. Ryan.  Nolan Ryan has turned the Rangers into a championship caliber team.  They have made their way to the last two World Series.  Granted they didn’t win and they came thisclose to winning it all last year, but I remember when the Rangers were the joke of baseball.  I believe Roger Clemens was one of the best pitchers in baseball.  My love of baseball wants to believe he didn’t start using steroids until he left Boston.  I followed his career during that amazing season in 1986.  He was just fun to watch. I think his own ego got in the way.  He had to remain Roger Clemens and to do that well, sometimes players just have to turn to illegal things.   Does he have Hall of Fame numbers?  Sure, but they are tainted in the minds of many baseball fans.  Same thing could be said when McGwire and Sosa were racing towards that 61 home run mark back in 1998.  If the Hall of Fame decides to allow these players into the Hall of Fame, it should be denoted these accomplishments happened during the Steroid Era.  As a history person, you can just hide the bad part of your history, you have to study it and accept it, so maybe we don’t repeat the mistakes down the road.

I am hoping to catch a Rangers game this year.  I haven’t been to a professional baseball game since moving from Houston to Lubbock back in 1998. There is just something about attending a live game you have to experience.  Most television broadcasts do their best to capture the game, but they miss out on all the atmosphere that makes baseball America’s pastime.

Just some musings from a baseball fan!


Since it is an off week for the Cup boys I thought I would take a break from the NASCAR circuit myself.  I am still reading all of my usually sites, but I am taking a break from commenting and posting.  Of course, if some serious breaking news happens, then all bets are off.

I wanted to take this week to write about other interests of mine that most of you may not know about.  Besides being a major NASCAR junkie, I love all things sports related.  Next to NASCAR, football is my next sports passion, followed by baseball.  I love sports so much that I am taking a Sports History course this fall at our local major university.  It is a way for me to combine two things I love…sports and history.  I have several books, in fact it is 6 books, that I am required to read for this course.  Being the ever diligent student that I am, I have the book list and I have already read two of the books and currently reading the third book.  The second book is entitled Baseball: A History of America’s Game” Benjamin G. Rader.  I have to say it was a very intriguing book.  I was visiting with the professor of the course and he suggested I read Game of Shadows.  This is the book that discusses the whole Barry Bonds steroids thing.  I have been holding off even reading this book, but I respect this professor so I decided to give it read. 

I used to be a rabid baseball fan almost as rabid as I am about NASCAR.  In fact there was a time I preferred watching baseball instead of football.  I know that is hard to fathom from someone who lives in Texas.  I remember watching the Atlanta Braves and the Chicago Cubs on TNT/TBS and WGN respectively.  I was more partial to the Atlanta Braves however.  I can still remember those god awful baby blue uniforms they used to wear.  I remember my father and I would discuss the Cincinnati Reds.  I remember hearing about Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose.  I still believe Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame for his on the field triumphs.  

But I didn’t really enjoy baseball until I became a fan of Roger Clemens.  I have been following his career since his playing days at the University of Texas.  I followed in to Boston, Toronto, New York, Houston and back to New York.  It has been somewhat difficult for me over the last several months to deal with all the controversy surrounding one of my sports heroes.  I just can’t believe all his accomplishments will be perceived as tainted because of it all.  

I have just finished watching one of the best baseball movies of all time…Field of Dreams.  My favorite part of the movie is towards the end where James Earl Jones, who plays Terrence Mann, gives the following speech to Ray…

Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come. 

I always get chills up my spine when I hear this speech and I always end up crying at the end when Kevin Costner’s character figures out the voices were talking about him and not his father.  And then when he see his father again and asks him “wanna have a catch”.  And then the two play catch.  I have male friends of mine break down in tears at this movie.  This movie touches everyone on some kind of level.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable weekend.  I will be watching the truck and Nationwide racing this weekend and perhaps catch a little baseball.