From Dana's Guests

My Two Cents: Yesterday

Auguste Roc

"Play ball!"

It's an old familiar adage that many of us recognize as the opening bark of a baseball umpire announcing the start of a game.

"Play ball!"

This past week marked the start of a new major league baseball season. The start of a new baseball season represents many things and for me it's usually associated with great childhood memories.

Baseball marks the arrival of spring -- lush green playing fields, kids having fun at the ball park, lazy summer days and hot summer nights. All this, accented by the sounds of baseball being played on the radio or on the television, filling in as the background music for summer.

You don't have to watch or pay special attention to it as long as the sounds of the game flow through the air. And every so often, the air waves are infused with the distinct sound of the bat connecting for a home run and almost like 'Pavlov's dog' we instinctively tune in to hear the roar of the crowd, to witness the magnificence of the ball sailing over the wall and admire the heroes trot as he circles the bases.

As a kid growing up in New York I got to know baseball because I was surrounded by the rich traditions of the Yankees, the tenacity of the 'Amazin' Mets and because I got to listen to legendary tales of past teams; the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants.

There were an endless list of heroes which we tried to emulate on the diamond and you could always find on argument to participate in about who you thought was the best.

Arguing about who you thought was the best player is a longstanding traditional ritual for fans of the game. And as a kid these debates would go on forever, ranging from who you thought was the top slugger, who had the best swing, the coolest uniforms or the fastest base stealer, etc.

These episodes were often colorful and they sometimes got heated, but they all added to the lore of the game and the admiration which we had for our heroes.

Recently, I was out having dinner with some friends, all sport fans and all opinionated. The food was great. The conversation was better. We were having a great time. And as expected, with the start of the new season, talk of baseball came up. But, the conversation was unlike the one that we had when we were kids.

It wasn't about who is the top slugger or who has the best swing, but rather, "Would the biggest name in the game today be found guilty of taking 'steroids'".

The table was set but the great baseball arguments of yesteryear never arrived.

At this debate the color was non existent and the heat was never turned on.

"Play ball!"

What has happened to our game? Where have our childhood traditions all gone?

That's my two cents (for whatever it's worth),

Auguste Roc

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