Tag Archives: Major League Baseball

Clinging to hope despite experiencing the dark side of baseball

first pitch 2016 World Series

First pitch.

By Bruce Stambaugh

Another Major League Baseball season has begun. As a devoted Cleveland Indians fan, I’m hoping this will finally be the year they win it all. I say that every year. But this year is different.

Coming off of last year’s incredible run to the seventh game of the World Series, the Indians have a better than average chance of repeating as American League champions. That’s true if everything goes as planned. Like most things in life, they usually don’t. But Indians fans do what they have always done. We hope.

This year, however, my hope is less rosy, less enthusiastic. That has nothing to do with the Tribe’s chances.

It’s just that having attended my first ever World Series last year I saw the reality of professional baseball, the business end, the dark side if you will. I wasn’t impressed. My naiveté hit a brick wall.

Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field

Our “regular” seats.

As a member of a group of season ticket holders, we had prime opportunity to purchase our seats for the playoffs. Only, the seats we were given weren’t the ones we had during the regular season.

Our group discovered that Major League Baseball had confiscated our seats, and we had to purchase alternative seats two sections farther from home plate and twice as far from the field of play. MLB and the Indians treated other long-time season ticket holders similarly.

I didn’t have to inquire too far into the system to realize why. Money. Our tickets were being resold to the highest bidder, meaning they sold for thousands of dollars each.

The tickets for the substitute seats we were assigned went for half as much, if we wanted to sell them, which I didn’t. When I inquired of the Indians about the situation, I received no response.

I didn’t let that spoil my enjoyment of the World Series. I was happy for the Chicago Cubs, the World Series champions. I was elated for my oft-beleaguered Indians for just making it to the World Series.

erikkratzbybrucestambaugh

When Erik caught for the Phillies.

Still, a bad taste lingered in my mouth until the Indians signed the only professional baseball player I know personally, Erik Kratz. He’s an acquaintance of our daughter’s family. His son and our grandson played on the same baseball team and were in preschool together. Though I have seen him in those settings, Erik wouldn’t know me from Adam.

Erik is 37 years old. That’s ancient in baseball time. He is past his prime playing days. And yet, he keeps trying to make a major league team. This year it was with my Indians.

A sports writer chronicled Erik’s long and windy path to the major leagues. Even after all these twists and turns, the ups and downs, the trades, and releases, the opportunities, and disappointments, Erik gave a very positive perspective about why he keeps playing baseball.

True to his faith, Erik shared a story of hope, determination, and dedication to both his career as a baseball player and his family. His story awakened me from my first world pouting.

If Erik could endure all the circuitous travels across the country, and the emotional ups and downs between major and minor league teams, I could certainly buck it up and give baseball one more try. Hope should always triumph over disillusionment.

I decided that I would not let the bureaucratic dark side spoil my lifetime love for the game. After all, this could be the year the Cleveland Indians win it all.

Hope is a true healer of all ills, especially for diehard Cleveland Indians fans.

Cleveland Indians, fireworks

Hoping for World Series fireworks in 2017.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2017

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Humans did their part to make 2015 another goofy year

Snow, Ohio

Snow for sale.

By Bruce Stambaugh

The main headlines of this tumultuous year may have overshadowed some lesser but still noteworthy news. Here are a few I logged.

January 2 – A North Walsham, England man paid a veterinarian the equivalent of $460 U.S. to do surgery on his three-inch pet goldfish.

January 24 – The leader of a pack of Boy Scouts, ages nine and 10 on a nature hike, accidentally led his troop onto a beach of nude sunbathers near San Diego, California.

February 10 – The European Space Agency reported that the Hubble telescope spotted a galaxy that resembled a smiley face.

duck in swimming pool

Obeying pool rules.

February 24 – Kyle Waring of Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts, who began selling snow from his yard, 6 pounds for $89, said he would continue doing so until people stop ordering.

March 7 – An Amish farmer in Sadsbury Township, Pennsylvania accepted a $597,000 state agricultural grant to stave runoff from what one official described as his “barnyard mud hole.”

March 10 – The Utah State Legislature reinstituted the firing squad as a means to carry out the death penalty.

April 1 – The world’s oldest person, 117-year-old Misao Okawa, died in Tokyo.

April 6 – The world’s oldest person, 116-year-old Gertrude Weaver, died in Camden, Arkansas.

bank sign, Pennsylvania Dutch sign

Money anyone?

May 2 – A 22-year-old Eastlake, Ohio woman shot a squirrel with a bow and arrow, telling police she killed the animal for dinner.

May 29 – A 17-year old Ann Arbor, Michigan teen stole a new car from a dealership by posing as an FBI agent, and was arrested when he crashed the car in Toledo.

June 16 – The typical American family throws out $1,600 worth of food every year, according to a news report.

June 25 – An updated U.S. Census report showed that the fastest growing age group in Ohio was the 85-years-old and older population.

July 14 – The last of a giant snow pile created by Boston city workers removing snow during the winter finally melted.

July 21 – Nigel Richards, the winner of the French Scrabble contest, couldn’t speak French.

August 8 – A 16-year old girl vacationing in the German Alps found a gold bar worth $17,900 at the bottom of a lake.

August 11 – For the first time in Major League Baseball history, all 15 home teams won their game.

Amish buggy, Holmes Co. OH

Holmes Co., Ohio.

September 3 – A report showed Americans used 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, and only 23 percent of them were recycled.

September 21 – A nine-year-old boy was injured when his mother jumped out of her moving car because a spider was on her shoulder, and the car crashed into a school bus.

October 14 – A report from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showed that Holmes Co. was the most generous county in Ohio in 2012 with a giving ratio of nearly six percent.

October 21 – A three-year-old Oklahoma City, Oklahoma boy took the wheel of a pickup truck and steered it safely across four lanes of traffic after his drunken mother fell out of the vehicle.

November 27 – A Georgia man standing behind a target at a shooting range in St. Augustine, Florida was accidently shot by his brother.

November 28 – Sorters at a Goodwill store in Winfield, Kansas found a live grenade among a large pile of donations.

December 3 – Seattle police arrested a 73-year old man for snorting cocaine during a routine traffic stop.

December 10 – Hazmat crews in Yarmouth, Maine responded to a suspicious liquid leaking from a tank truck and discovered the substance to be milk.

Hopefully, 2015 was a good year for you and yours. Let’s hope that 2016 will be a “sweet 16” year for all of God’s global children.

Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field

Even the Indians won.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2015

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For this baseball lover, it’s wait until next year again

Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians,

Michael Brantley strokes his 200th hit of the 2014 season. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’ve loved baseball since I was a kid. That’s a long time, never mind how long.

Baseball was in my DNA. I suppose my father’s love of the game, and that of my grandfather highly influenced me. Dad played baseball in high school. Grandpa Merle played in high school, college, and in summer leagues.

My big brother played sandlot baseball, too. Of course, I wanted to be just like him.

Rocky Colavito, Cleveland Indians, Bruce Stambaugh

Indians great Rocky Colavito threw out the first pitch of the August 10th game last year. © Bruce Stambaugh

Keep in mind that I grew up in the post World War II decade when the top two teams in the American League were the dreaded New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. Yes, the Indians had consistently winning teams with memorable players like Rocky Colavito, Herb Score, Bob Feller, Minnie Minoso and so many more.

Youth was my golden era for baseball. I was young, innocent, impressionable, enthusiastic, looking for any diversion from either work or school. Baseball was it.

I started playing baseball when I was seven. The coaches put me at second base for very practical reasons. I was small and it was the shortest throw to first base.

As I grew, I played every position on the field. Catcher was my favorite. I could see the entire game unfold before me. Plus, it was the shortest walk to the bench after the inning was over.

Indians fans, Cleveland Indians, Bruce Stambaugh

Indians fans will travel the extra mile to support their team. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

Did I mention that I wasn’t a very good player? Still, baseball was the sports marrow in my bones. Still is.

When I wasn’t playing, I listened to games. I was in my glory when transistor radios came out. I could listen to the Indians late at night, when we were supposed to be sleeping. And I listened to them when grandpa took us fishing. I liked that kind of leisurely multitasking.

I enjoyed how Jimmy Dudley, then the Indians play-by-play announcer, called the game. He drew me in like I was really there, and several fish happily escaped my baseball daydreaming.

I always wanted to play third base for Cleveland. Ken Keltner, Al Rosen, and Bubba Phillips were my heroes. Max Alvis not so much. My all-time favorite Indian, Lou Klimchock, also played third on occasion, but his main position was second. Mostly, I just liked his name.

I knew baseball statistics. I collected baseball cards. I even chewed that stiff, hard, usually stale, flat piece of bubblegum inside every pack of Topps cards.

Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians, Bruce Stambaugh

Michael Brantley and Tampa Bay’s James Loney both smiled broadly after Brantley’s 200th hit this year. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014

I collected hundreds of baseball cards, and a few cavities. My dentist took care of them, and my mother the cards.

I watched what few games were broadcast on television, at first in black and white, and only later in color. Mostly I relied on the alluring voice of Dudley to keep me informed of every pitch.

Our family attended a game or two each year. They were too expensive and too far away. Expressways hadn’t been invented yet.

As I grew from adolescence into adulthood, I continued my love affair with the Indians. I tried to pass that on to my own children, but times have changed, and so have they, for the better of course.

My wife also knows the game well. We attend a few games each year. We hope against hope that the Indians will someday win the World Series.

With the San Francisco Giants recently winning the game’s championship, Major League Baseball is over for 2014. Like any good Cleveland Indians fan will tell you, there’s always next year.

fireworks, baseball, Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians

Someday fireworks will explode in celebration of an Indians World Series championship. Someday, maybe next year. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

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