May 19, 2011
2007 SP Legendary Cuts Mike Schmidt Jersey Card
It was a game for a Mike Schmidt in legendary times when powder blue uniforms ruled the landscape. It was an idyllic period when there was no labor strife between the players and owners, no fear of being booed by your hometeam, and no maple bats.
It was only a game where waiting for a ball while in the infield meant prattling to the pitcher about his stuff. "Throw it by him baby! Way to show them the nasty slider! Make 'im dive for it! 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, you got this!" That was some lively chatter.
Nostalgia rules in the baseball scene. This is not to say that this is a negative aspect of the game. Links to the historical past help drive interest in the modern game. How do players connect to similar counterparts from different eras? Did you know that this season so far has seen the lowest run-scoring environment since 1993? Willie Mays's birthday: great moment or greatest moment?
There's always been a sense of comparison in baseball history through the eras. The game is not the same as it once was. There are no more (legal) spitballs and emoryballs. The ballparks are both bigger and smaller. Baseballs are replaced during the game with increasing frequency. Gloves don't look like big brown leather hands. Catcher masks are more goalie hockey helmets with every passing year.
But for those who play, no matter the year...it is a game, it is a livelihood, it is a passthrough to the alternate universe. For without baseball, players are not immortalized with cardboard, foil, and cut up pieces of cloth.
When it was a game is a phrase that will never go out of style because it was only a game before you remember being grown-up. For all of us, we're still in the process of figuring out what that's going to be like.