From every baseball field being slightly unique in shape and size to trying to hit a round ball with a round bat baseball separates itself from all other sports. The past two weeks, again in my world, have been what I would like to call a baseball wonderland. It all started Monday night, September 16th when I got home from work, working out and I was cooking dinner. I decided to put in the movie “The Rookie” about a mid-thirty year old chemistry teacher and high school baseball coach who makes it to the major leagues as a relief pitcher. Based on a true story, Jim Morris spent five years navigating his way through the minor leagues before injury ended his young career, or so he thought. After surgery and years out of the game Jim Morris ends up making a comeback and playing two shorten seasons in the Majors at the age of 35. After watching that movie I of course caught the baseball bug, not that it takes much, but it renewed my love of the game.
Later that week I ended up traveling to Detroit for business. When I travel for business I enjoy trying unique restaurants, catching sporting events or finding a unique event to attend. I always say “When in Rome do as the Romans do…” I have just extended that theory to every city in America, including Princeton Illinois, a small town of 7,600. Lucky for me Detroit is a bit bigger and is home to the A.L. central leading Tigers. My two co-workers both had dinner plans with friends or family so I was completely free to drive down and grab a seat for a Wednesday night game. I make it down to the heart of Detroit an hour before game time and start seeking out “I need ticket” signs. As I am crossing the street to the stadium I run into a large man with a hand full of tickets. I ask him if he has an extra one that he can’t sell with a group of other tickets. He pulls out a ticket, face value of $40 and offers it to me for $50. I tell him I will pay face value and we have a deal. Two twenty dollar bills later I am walking through the front gate and getting ready to watch Verlander of the Tigers take on the Mariners.
Then this past week, I watched, read or listened to highlights of many great baseball players relishing their final moments as big league players. One day it was the emotional final pitches of Marino Rivera (the greatest closer of all time), next was the exciting finish to the Rockies steadfast player Todd Helton and finally it was Andy Pettiettes final game at Yankee stadium after a long and full-filling pitching career. If you are interested Taylor wrote a beautiful article about Rivera (Click Here) and Benton wrote a great article about Helton (Click Here).
The emotions of Rivera alone should indicate to a none sports fan (or non-baseball fan) the “something” different that baseball possess. Rivera pitched as a closer for 16 ½ of his 19 year career and was as fearless as he was emotionless which made him unstoppable as a closer. Many closers buckle after a few years because they can’t handle the stress but Rivera is a rock, more like a diamond…nothing could shatter him – except his last appearance at Yankee Stadium. His love for the game and that “something” else brought Rivera to tears on the mound. As the future Hall of Fame pitcher walked off the mound I could only think to myself – I just saw the greatest closer in baseball history pitch for 19 years and watched him walk off the mound one last time – I am pretty lucky. It also confirmed that baseball does have “something” that other sports don’t possess – it is a feeling, an emotion, a lifestyle. Live, love and play like there is no tomorrow – thanks for reading!
The Marris Minute