I don’t follow big-league baseball with nearly the fervor I did when I was a kid.
Free agency managed to wreck it for me in the late 1960s, allowing big leaguers to sell their talents to the highest bidder. Players have switched teams, causing some upset to those of us who long associated players with teams.
Mickey Mantle: New York Yankees; Ted Williams: Boston Red Sox; Stan Musial: St. Louis Cardinals.
Sure, some post-free agency players stayed with the same teams throughout their careers: Tony Gwynn: San Diego Padres; Cal Ripken: Baltimore Orioles; George Brett: Kansas City Royals.
All six of those guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers.
OK, now that I’ve stipulated that I don’t follow Major League Baseball the way I used to follow it, I remain anxious as we get ready for the first pitch to be tossed out. I still like old-fashioned hardball. It remains in my mind and heart the National Pastime.
I don’t await the start of pro basketball or pro football with this kind of anticipation. Pro hockey? Umm. Not even close.
Baseball is still a bit different for me.
I follow a couple of players more than the rest of ’em. By fave at the moment plays for the Los Angeles Angels: Albert Pujols, who’ll enter the Hall of Fame on the first ballot when his time comes up. Pujols is set to get his 3,000th hit this season. He’ll get his share of home runs to add to his ninth-best career total of 614. My hope is that he can put together at least one more career year to match the seasons he piled up in St. Louis before he decided to shop his skills around before he ended up in LA.
So, with that I’ll await the 2018 MLB season with some enthusiasm. I’m no longer a kid. Baseball no longer is quite the same as it was in those days.
They still play good hardball and, brother, they get paid lots of money to play a kid’s game.