Baseball Is All About Tradition
One of the people I interviewed for the piece was my coach at Birmingham Groves, Jim Crosby, who is still coaching. I made an off -the-cuff remark that kids just don’t play baseball as much anymore. And he corrected me, telling me they play a lot more - the kids who play. "They probably play twice as many games as you used to," he said.
I guess so. Organized ones, anyway. But you don’t see kids from this area making it to the major leagues like they used to, either. And it used to be the local college teams did better. Both Michigan and Eastern Michigan were powerful teams that advanced to the College World Series. Now it’s this monumental upset when Michigan wins a regional. Kids play the game more, but not for the same reasons. It’s the not biggest part of their life to the same degree it was back then. And not every kid plays baseball. Used to be just about every kid did.
The thing I have always loved about baseball, I think more than anything else, is its tradition. I have always been slow to accept change when it comes to baseball. I don’t believe this is an age thing, either, because I loved that tradition from the time I was little kid and I was at the Baldwin Library in Birmingham soaking in everything I could about the history of the game. I knew all about Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb when I was seven or eight years old. It’s the one thing I hope stays the same about the game, and why I tend to fight change. I am concerned kids don’t just go out in the street and start playing ball - the way we did when I lived in St. Clair Shores. Or up to the field to play on their own. I am concerned the designated hitter has unnecessarily changed the balance of the game. I watch a lot of baseball, and the National League brand is just better - even though the American League clearly has better players. Interleague player is fine in New York and Chicago and on the West Coast or in Texas and Ohio where there are natural rivals. The Tigers don’t have a natural rival, so often they left out to dry. Good the Mets are coming into town this weekend, but I’d rather see the Yankees and Red Sox on second trips in. To me, they are the Tigers rivals.
Baseball is the perfect game. It has perfect balance. I don’t like to see it tampered with. And I liked it better when kids played it for the right reasons around here - pure love of the game. I know that’s how I felt about it. Still do.
- Of the major golf tournaments, the one I like the best and feel is the most important is the U.S. Open. It is different because of the way they trick up the golf course. Some people would say that takes away from the shot-making of the world’s top golfers. I say it tests their skill more.
- The one thing good about Anaheim winning the Stanley Cup is that it means hard-nosed hockey is back. The Ducks are being compared to the Islanders of the late 1970s and early 1980s. A bit of a stretch, for sure, but the style is the same. The Ducks combine skill with a real toughness. You have to admit, the Ducks play hockey the way it was meant to be played. And to think the Red Wings should have beaten them...Oh well.
- Look, when I was on the Tigers beat, the only round baseball would reveal from its draft was the first round. They were so paranoid about college coaches finding out the selections of high school players and then recruiting them. It was a backward philosophy, so I guess the baseball draft being televised Thursday represents significant progress. The coverage, though, was a little underwhelming. They need a Mel Kiper-type to liven it up.
- I did like the Tigers No. 1 pick, Rick Porcello. It’s another high-ceiling prospect with signability issues. But if they sign him, they will have one of the top players from this draft from the 27th position. There is risk there, but it is minimal given the chances of the 27th overall pick starring otherwise. I just wonder when the Tigers will get burned by their continual dancing with agent Scott Boras.