“High fly ball…. She’s a way out there…. she’s gonnnnnnne!”
Well, not literally. Chances are someone has that unique souvenier: The ball. A part of the actual game, being played right then and there by the major league players. Perhaps getting a ball is not quite like having a part of the easel utilized by Leonardo Da Vince when he painted the Mona Lisa… but for some of us it can feel like it, particularly if it’s a player of great renown.
In the meantime, back at the mound, the pitcher is wondering how that one could have slipped so badly. Even Madison Bumgarner, not to mention Clayton Kershaw, not to mention Justin Verlander, are mortal (on occasion anyway).
You know what they say: To err is human, to give up the long ball, divine….
They do say that, right? Well, not really, and part of what can make baseball so exasperating is that even a very fine pitch can be tagged. Then, to add to the humiliation, you get the bat flip…. And someone invariably yells: “C yah!”
But the baseball flies through the air only for a little while, and lands, whether it is caught, or whether it clatters in the bullpen, the bleachers, or bounces among the fans, or plops in the bay….
The ball flies a relatively short distance, all things considered, and comes back down to earth. It is not really harmed, as we understand injury. In fact, a scuff mark or two might be a good thing for authenticity.
When you are in an airplane, however, it is quite a different experience. Still, the teams do it very routinely. The planes are chartered. The comfort is created. These guys are playing 162 games in something like 180 or so days. Give ’em a break!
Clearly, this isn’t packing your stuff onto a train, sharing a bunk, and rattling from town to town. This is air travel baby…. high above the clouds…. gliding through the air. Right? No slipped pitches here… no crack of a bat that knocks the plane silly, right? Well, what about turbulence? Do the players all just nod off? Are there any who are not all that sanguine about air travel? Is the bull pen coach fidgety?
Well, um… ahhh…. here goes: I some times get scared on an airplane. Ok, I said it!
Look, I just wonder what really is keeping this contraption up in the air, at least 30,000 feet above the earth. It can be more nerve wracking to fly than it is when you are watching a shaky reliever who is brought in to protect a one-run-lead, but immediately starts throwing balls far outside the strike zone…
Come on, let me ask you: What makes any of us – I mean ANY – think it’s all fine and dandy to let someone else you probably don’t even known handle the wheel of this jet? The plane isn’t a taxi cab. Trains are on tracks on earth, at least they’re built to be. Planes are, like, way up in the air, above the clouds no less!
Is the pilot the most reliable pinch hitter of all time? You sure the heck hope so!
I mean, come on: Baseball is a game played on the ground, among soil and grass, and surrounded by walls and fences. There are ground balls, pop flies, line drives, bunts, squibbers, and long hits, but the game is played very much on the earth.
Colorado is a favored ball park, they say, because the ball travels further. The higher altitude means the air has less resistance, or some such scientific explanation. But, how does playing baseball there, the mile high city, provide any comfort about flying much, much higher in a metal tube?
Last season the Oakland Athletics traveled nearly 48,000 miles. Holy jet stream buddy…. The least amount of miles seems to belong to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and even that was nearly 22,000! Did they use schooners on occasion instead?
Do the guys hob knob on the planes? They sure did on the trains… the antics there, the card games, the lore… that was baseball, until middle of the last century. One thing about the trains — under federal law a scheduled departure could not be delayed simply because a team was into extra innings… or some guys were slow to shower or pack. Charter jets, they wait patiently, and there’s ample leg room, and then some. Babe Ruth is not running up and down the cars, squashing people’s hats, or causing some kind of mischief in the parlor. The planes are trying to be comfortable, and the players are trying to be exemplary… we presume.
History tells us the first team air flight was in June 1934 by the Cincinnati Reds, who ironically finished last that year. Seems that the Yankees were the first team to travel regularly to games by air, and that was starting in 1946.
By the way, jet lag is an inescapable part of baseball. There are studies, one well known by Ravi Allada, a sleep scientist at Northwestern University. He and his colleagues came to the conclusion that teams do more poorly when they travel east compared to when they go west (young man…). Something about the 24-hour circadian rhythm, and the challenges of adjusting to a shortened day. Of course, you knew that, right?
Here’s the thing: Fly Me to the Moon, great song. Fly me to Wrigley Field, haven’t heard that one.
I remember back in 1959, the so very memorable Vin Scully call: “We go to Chicago!”
Well, I wonder if any of the guys were thinking, “Man we’re in the world series… that is so great! Wonder if Mr. O’Malley would mind if we drove there and back?”