For Us Old Baseball Fans, It’s Getting to Be That Time of Year

By Joe Darby

Around this time of year, my attention starts to get concentrated on the standings. Not that I’ve been ignoring them for the past five months, of course.

I am referring, naturally, to the baseball standings, the won-loss rankings of the 30 Major League Baseball teams in their respective six divisions, three each in the American League and three in the National League.

And why am I getting excited? Because as I write this each team has only about 18 more games to play before the playoffs begin. And because I am one of those geezers who still love baseball as if it really were still America’s National Pastime.

I will admit that football and even basketball are more spectacular these days, that they’re faster moving games and have more attraction to many, particularly on the TV screens.

But there’s something special about baseball and I love it. It’s been around far longer that the other two top sports (and, sorry but I’m not even considering hockey or soccer here). The National League was begun in 1876, for goodness’ sake! That’s a long time ago, even for us geezers. Babe Ruth was in his prime about 90 years ago and Mickey Mantle about 60 years ago. To me, that puts some perspective on the grand old game.

And I love every baseball season. They’re all so different. New faces coming along, older players in their twilight years. Every year is something special. So much of my own calendar year is wrapped around the game. Mary can tell, you after each year’s World Series, at the end of October, I start counting off to the beginning of next year’s spring training. Pitchers and catchers report in a little more than four months, I’ll tell her.

Then, Opening Day (and yes, that has to be capitalized) arrives at the beginning of April. The new season has begun!. This year I finally got the MLB Network from my TV provider and now I can watch almost every game scheduled every day. Am I in heaven, or what?

So, back to the present time, mid-September. The regular season is winding down and the playoffs will begin in a few weeks. Last year’s heroes were the Houston Astros, who outlasted the Los Angeles Dodgers to win their first ever World Series. To make it even better one of their stars is Alex Bregman, a former LSU great, who is now one of the top players in the National League. He was named the Most Valuable Player in this year’s All-Star game, I’ll have you know.

The next few weeks will determine who will meet in the 2018 World Series. Will it be the rampaging Boston Red Sox (boo)? The Astros (yea) again? Or any one of the other eight teams who will make the post season? Finding out will be lots of fun.

Sometimes I worry about my sport. Major League attendance has been down for several years. The absurdly named New Orleans Baby Cakes, a AAA team in New Orleans, will be deserting that city soon for Wichita, Kans. When I lived in New Orleans, we had weekend season tickets for the local team, then called the Zephyrs, and saw all the Friday, Saturday and Sunday home games. The crowds were large and loud. These days the Baby Cakes are lucky if they attract a couple of thousand fans to the park.

But I have faith that baseball will persist. For a long time. The thrills of a game-winning home run, a close play at the plate, a pitcher carrying a no-hitter into the ninth inning, a spectacular catch by a center fielder, are still goose-bump raising plays for many folks.

And now, I’m going to turn on my TV and see how many games are showing on the MLB Network at this moment. There should be several, at least. Oh, happy day.