Monday, October 20, 2008

No Joy in Mudville

Well, I guess I'll have to be rooting for the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series. I don't normally follow baseball, but of late when the Red Sox have been in the Series, I've taken an interest. So, now that the Tampa Bay team has beaten the Sox (though it took the full seven games to do it), I'll be rooting for the Northeast team, though my only connection to Philadelphia is that it was the hometown of my freshman year college roommate.

Looking up the history of the Phillies team, I found that interestingly, it started out as a Massachusetts franchise! Yes, in 1883, the Worcester Ruby Legs were disbanded and started up again in Philadelphia.  It's probably just as well, as it might have confused sportswriters and readers to have the Red Sox and the Ruby Legs within 45 miles of each other.

Did you think the intersection of pro sports and evangelical religion was something new? Not so. Billy Sunday played for the Phillies for a while before taking his own brand of muscular Christianity on the sawdust trail.

And one of the Phillies' pitchers, Dan Casey, claimed till the end of his days to be the subject of this famous baseball poem; if so, perhaps the incident was the impetus for the designated hitter rule.

In honor of the Phillies and the Devil Rays, as well as all the teams who didn't quite make it, some classic baseball songs:

THE classic baseball song, written by Jack Norworth (lyrics) and Albert Von Tilzer, and celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, is "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Makes me want a box of CrackerJack!

Onkel Hankie Pants was in a production of Ragtime (a musical based on E. L. Doctorow's novel) a couple of years ago, and he got to participate in this number, which contrasts the expectations of what a baseball game should be from the viewpoints of a well-to-do Ivy League graduate and a group of working-class immigrants.

For one brief moment this fall, it looked as if there were a chance for -- what would you call it? an El series? -- between the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.  The Cubs last won the Series 100 years ago, and last played in it in 1945.  The White Sox won in 2005, only their second appearance in the Series since the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919. Well, it was not to be. In honor of the Cubs, here's the late Steve Goodman singing about them.

One of the great baseball songs could not be found on YouTube. You might want to invest 99 cents in it yourself -- Tom Paxton's "My Favorite Spring." Spring will come, and if your team was in the cellar this year -- wait till next year!

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