Raznor's Rants

Costarring Raznor's reality-based friends!

Saturday, February 01, 2003

Thank God for baseball

I just participated in a spirited and angering debate on Bush, Iraq, North Korea, etc. with a couple of my dormies, and needed a downer. So, playing Radiohead's "Kid A" I went to espn.com and read Jim Caple's list of why the World Series is better than the Superbowl. The memories it provoked in me sure brightened my mood, but here are some examples, quotations followed by my own reaction.

16: Weather. The Super Bowl is always played in a sunny, warm city or a domed stadium protected from the elements, which provides bland weather. The World Series is played in all types of weather -- warm California evenings, chilly New York nights, damp, rainy St. Louis, cold Cleveland snowstorms -- that affect the game and make each unique.

We all know I'm a huge Diamondbacks fan, so of course my favorite World Series come from 2001, so let me relate my weather-related memory for that:

Game 7, bottom of the 9th, Diamondbacks down by one, and the best closer to ever enter October on the mound for the Yankees in the form of Mariano Rivera, the tension is high, and it looks like a 4-peat for New York. I'm already going over in my head justification, like, "well, I guess New York deserves it with the terrorism and all," and "it was still a trip to make it to the World Series anyway."

Then it starts to rain.

Not much, only a drizzle, but understand that Bank One Ballpark has a retractable roof, and the rain season in Phoenix is in July and August, when the roof is closed anyway to stifle the horrible heat. To my knowledge, this marked the first time it had rained in the BOB (I like calling it the BOB because I can ignore the corporate sponsorship). Sitting in my dorm room in Portland, watching on my small TV, I had the feeling that something a change in fate was in the air.

Sure enough, Mark Grace hits a single, he's replaced at first with Alex Cintron. Damian Miller bunts, Rivera throws to Jeter covering second, and the ball rolls into the outfield, E-1, first and second, no one out. Then Jay Bell, batting for Randy Johnson, lays down a bunt, 1-5 and an out at third, first and second, Bautista pinch-runs for Miller.

Then Womack, who had already hit a game winning double in Game 5 of the Division Series against St Louis, hits a game-tying double to keep Arizona alive, second and third, one out. Infield in, Counsell is hit by a pitch, and Luis Gonzalez breaks his bat, the ball lands in the shallow outfield, and the game is over, Arizona 3, New York 2.

Long explanation, and probably they won't be so long here on out, but let's go on:

2: Hometown fans. The World Series is played in the teams' cities where local fans paint their faces, stomp their feet, bang their thunderstix, fold their hands in prayer, exchange hugs and high-fives, deafen the opposing team with their roar and generally create a true sense of community that is too seldom seen in modern society. The Super Bowl is played at a neutral site where corporate executives sip their wine, sit on their hands, exchange business cards and create fantasy expense reports that bear no relationship to reality.

I watched footage of the postgame party in Phoenix after the D-backs won the Series. It was the only time I wished I was going to Arizona State instead of Reed, I should have been there.

11: The ceremonial first pitch. President Bush's strike to Jorge Posada before Game 3 of the 2001 World Series was an inspiring moment that showed the world that the country still stood strong and that baseball remained our national pastime. The only pitch thrown at the Super Bowl is when the commissioner tells the host city to build another stadium or else.

I add this to demonstrate how good I felt reading this, I don't even mind Jim Caple's subtle, indirect praise of Bush, even though I was pissed off by less amiable stances on Bush than this, I didn't care at this point. Why, because it just further reminded me of the 2001 World Series, and was therefore happy.

29: Ticket prices. While expensive, World Series tickets are still within reach of many fans. At $400 face value, Super Bowl tickets are prohibitively expensive but it makes little difference since the average fan never even gets a chance to buy them -- the tickets are already distributed to corporate sponsors, city officials, players, ticket brokers, media bigwigs, celebrities and other special friends.

This is a good point. Last season when I went to a Diamondbacks game with my Dad, taking notice of all the advertising that inescapably surrounded us, my Dad asked me how I reconcile my love of baseball with my distaste for corporations. I said something like I'm able to ignore it, and concentrate on the game. But here's a better reason. Baseball is by its nature a very populist sport. Bill James writes there's something in it for everyone. Sure corporations exploit it for their gains, but then again they exploit everything for their gains. Including the non-comformist movement, for the love of Mike.


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