Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Take me out to the ball game...

I don’t watch sports as much as I used to, but every once in a while some sports related news item will catch my attention, the most recent one involves baseball. It seems that relief pitchers from two different teams are using the same theme song as they make their entrance on to the field. Apparently, this is the baseball equivalent of the old cliché of two women showing up to an event wearing the same dress.

Now I thought it amusing enough that some players even have theme songs, but funnier still is the fact that this business caused an uproar on sports-talk radio. By the way, I don’t believe in Hell, but if it does exist I’m sure that at least one of the outer circles is reserved for everyone responsible for talk radio of any kind…but I digress.

Anyway, while reading about all this I remembered something even stranger having to do with relief pitchers (at least I think it’s a memory and not a hallucination, but whenever the distant past is concerned I’m never completely sure).

Years ago relief pitchers were actually driven from the bullpen to the pitching mound. Now for anyone not familiar with baseball, let me explain that we are talking a distance of approximately four hundred feet…give or take fifty feet.

The vehicle they were driven in was usually something like a golf cart except that the top half would be shaped like a giant baseball or a giant baseball cap or stranger still a giant baseball wearing a giant baseball cap. Some teams took this idea even further and used a real car…a genuine automobile to chauffeur the pitcher to the mound, at which point he would take off his team jacket (which I can only assume he was wearing because the driver kept the AC on full blast during the long ride in) and start to pitch.

Harder to believe still is the fact that no one at the time seemed to think this at all strange or unnecessary, at least I never heard anyone say so. I can’t for the life of me recall when this practice came to an end or if I was even following baseball anymore when it did. But whenever you hear someone talking about modern athletes being spoiled, remember these valiant men who must jog (or at least walk really fast) those four hundred or so feet before they can hurl a single pitch.


puppytoes said...

while my husband is a big fan of the game, i am not. well, not a big fan, tho' i'll watch a game or two with him if his team makes it to the series. but since his team is the dodgers, that hasn't been much of an issue.

come to think of it, maybe i don't care a lot for baseball because my father was also a fan (of the dodgers, too. go figure.) so much so, that the telegram he received from my grandfather informing him of my birth read: dodgers not interested. better luck next time. granted, that was quite a long while ago... still, y'know? it hurts.

don't know what to say about relief pitcher theme songs... images of that scene from major league keep popping in my head (charlie sheen strutting out on the field to wild thing, remember? or is that kind of silliness not your cup of tea?) thanks to all the scandalous news in recent months, i have to think music is the last thing these guys should be concerned about.

on the other hand, golf carts that look like giant baseball-hat-wearing-baseballs? whole different story...

Joel said...

Puppytoes (aka my wife) doesn't remember but I said to her just a couple of weeks? months? ago I wonder what happened to the practice of driving relief pitchers from the bullpen to the mound? It just kinda stopped and I can't remember you I always thought it was more than a little silly...figured it was more to keep the game moving along than anything else...still silly, just like the airtime being dedicated to the "fight" between Mets/Yankees over their closer's theme song. Very funny!

The Drive-by Blogger said...

I'm glad to know someone else also remembers. The other really absurd thing about baseball to me was the infamous "bench clearing brawl".

Two players start to fight and everyone from both dugouts and bullpens rush out on to the field,not to separate them, but to join in...and no one gets arrested.

But if two professional boxers want to get into a ring to fight, they both have to be licensed.