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Still The American Pastime?

The mystique of October baseball.


by Eugene Cappelluti
September 15, 2003

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Is Baseball Still The American Pastime?_Eugene Cappelluti- As the summer heat gives way to the gloomy skies of fall, the feeling of October baseball is in the air. At the same time, football's pigskin shows its overwhelming presence. This time of the year I find myself asking the question, "Is Baseball Still the American Pastime?"

Clearly, the state of the sport has changed. Records are broken almost annually and players have more muscles than the 1927 Yankees combined. Fan attendance is down and World Series viewer ratings have taken a dive. Oh, and Ted Williams is frozen.

I wish I can say I remember a summer when radios throughout the neighborhood could be heard broadcasting a Cubs matinee. I'm too young to have experienced that era. For that, I feel robbed. Nowadays, the only baseball coming through a radio can be heard in my garage only. An unexplainable romance with the radio still lingers, but it is fading far too quickly.

A few legitimate points can be made about the loss of interest in baseball. The most relevant by far is the strike of 1994. After the World Series was cancelled fans vowed to turn their backs and never set their eyes on a professional diamond again. But, slowly fans trickled back to the stadiums. Still, their point was made and players and owners took it seriously, resulting in a compromise after a threat of another strike took place during the 2002 season. Baseball has played through many difficult times, including The Great Depression and two world wars. Another point to be mentioned is the seemingly unbearable turtle pace of a nine-inning game, which most casual fans cannot appreciate I commend MLB for attempting to make to the game quicker. But, baseball is similar to a chess match. Decisions should not be forced to be made quicker. It is just the nature of this sport. The final five minutes of a basketball game is the equivalent to the full nine innings of a baseball game. The same can be said about the last two minutes of a football game.

So with the October classic approaching. Bostonians search for a way To break the Bambino's curse. Chicago dwellers hope for a north side south side fall classic. The Cinderella Royals hope to bring back the status they once wore. And as an American baseball fan, I'm proud to say I love it.

This brings me back to my original question. Is baseball still the American pastime? I say Yes.

After the 9/11 attacks America longed for a reason to smile and cheer. At that time we were given baseball in New York and it was the best I've ever seen. Every now and again baseball seems to remind us why we have a love for what occurs between the white lines. Whether it’s a homerun record chase, a stellar World Series, or a corked bat. Somewhere the ghosts of the legends look down and say "Hey!, it's Baseball.”

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