NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

September 21, 2013

Take me out to the October ballgame

Big Freddy was deep into his morning newspaper’s sports section when I pushed my way into my seat, and he only grunted in response to my “good morning.”

“Has somebody died?” I asked.

“In a manner of speaking,” Freddy said. “We’re at the baseball season’s deadline, and It’s more like a death rattle for some because the Sox have taken no prisoners start to finish.”

“Think they’ll go all the way?” I asked.

“Unless they trip on their beards,” Freddy said.

“Interesting choice, the beards,” I said.

“Throwback to another time,” Freddy said. “Good tension breakers.”

“Tension breakers?” I asked.

“It’s a staying loose thing to keep the ball rolling ...good luck charm, call it what you like, but they’ve got something good going, and I don’t know another sport that goes for more hocus pocus than baseball,” Freddy said.

“It breaks the tension, and there’s a lot of that in baseball,” I said.

“Because of the time it takes,” Freddy said. “Every player has his ritual. Management loves it and so do the fans.”

“Management loves it?” I asked.

“It feasts on the pauses between the action, and it helps in paying the piper,” Freddy said.

“Baseball’s a waiting game. Batters have their rituals. Pitchers stand around and wait until the batter unfastens his gloves after each swing of the bat, tightens them back up, kicks the dirt around just so in the batter’s box, straightens his hat and waggles his bat.

“Then the pitcher settles in place, stares at the catcher, shakes off the catcher’s signal while the batter’s wiggling his bat, finally nods his OK to the catcher, rears back and throws the ball which the batter either doesn’t swing at or does, and if he misses they do it over and over again until maybe he gets a hit, or strikes out, in which case the next batter comes up to the plate and does his own bit of landscaping and whatever, before he and the pitcher finish doing what they have to do.”

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