I have always been very cerebral in my approach to sports. I can enjoy watching sky rocketing home runs but my favorite plays were always more like Chuck Knoblach’s saving the game in the 91 World Series with his fake throw that cause Lonnie Smith to hold up at 2nd for a split second and totally saving a run and a win for the Twins. That is what makes baseball different than most sports. It is one missed step from changing history.
My love of baseball is a constant and ever changing affair. It began early by listening to Jack Buck and Harry Carey on the radio. Watching The Game of the Week with Vin Skully and Joe Garagiola was a family ritual. This Week in Baseball is still my all time favorite show. My life as a kid was all about baseball.
I grew up loving the Oakland Athletics. I fell for Rickey Henderson and his GOAT attitude as a kid I admit it. I also liked the Cubs because I had to be the yin to the rest of my families yang (Cardinal fans…. enough said). The Bash Brothers to “Every Man” Terry Steinbach how could you not love them? That Oakland team of the late 80’s is still one of my all time favorites and probably always will be.
In 1990 my allegiance changed totally. I was 16 and Sandberg was king. Tony Larussa had just lost his 2 World Series in 3 years. (God literally shook the earth so Tony could reset his starting rotation to get him that one win. He should be thankful but I digress.) Mark Grace and Greg Maddox were exactly what I loved about baseball. Players that won and became great because of their head instead of just their arm or bat. So my second favorite team became my first.
About this time Tom Fulton was the manager of a gas station that I always went into after school to get baseball cards as the new boxes came out. We always were talking about sports and baseball in general when one day he asked if I would be interested in joining a league he was putting together. I had never heard of APBA or Strat-o-matic or anything like that at the time. I just loved baseball and being a smart mouth kid who thought he knew everything about everything this was right up my alley.
That first year was rough. I think I ended up dead last by a large margin. I guess I did not know as much as I thought I did. But what I did figure out was that I LOVED IT. I was getting smashed in every game but I got to run the team as I saw fit. If I was down 10 runs and had a guy at 3rd and wanted to squeeze (not exactly the smartest call) I could…. and did.
My teams were always built the way I liked the game. Head first players that may not have the best stats but I loved how they went about their business was what the norm was for my teams. I have lost more than I have won in leagues over the years because of it but at least I got to play with guys I liked and the style of play I liked.
If you are playing against me just remember to pay attention to the ball and not what the fielders are doing around the diamond because you may end up standing at 3rd when the game ends.