Marianas Variety

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    Monday, December 18, 2017-11:41:19A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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There’s always baseball

ALTHOUGH it is easy to become a bit overwhelmed with the lousy local and national news, there’s always baseball to provide some relief.

When I watch a baseball game, I forget all about CW-1 permits, the snafus at the new casino/hotel, the endless finger-pointing in Washington, D.C., or the MV Luta mess.

Baseball is our national pastime, and that’s a perfect term for it. In fact, it’s the only true American game (although basketball can also make such a claim). But baseball has been around since the 1850’s, and it’s the most perfect game ever.

Where else can you sit in the bleachers, enjoy a hot dog and beer, and watch a thrilling game? In my youth, I had to put up with cigar smoke, but no more of that now.

The miracle of 90 feet

The 90 feet refers to the distance between home plate and first base, and the distance is significant.

If you stop to think about it, how many times have we seen the runner’s foot and the ball reach the base at the same time, or a squeaker of a double play?

With 90 feet separating the bases, it allows for the most exciting game possible. Because had the distance had 85 feet the runners would all be safe. More than 90 feet and they would be out.

I don’t know who decided on 90 feet, but it happened long ago when baseball was evolving into the game we have today. I do know one thing: it was not Abner Doubleday.

Doubleday has been given credit for inventing, or refining, the game of baseball. It’s not true. Doubleday was a Union Civil War general, and fought bravely at Gettysburg. He had nothing to do with baseball. It’s just one of those odd myths that pop up in the vagaries of sports history and becomes legend.

As a kid, living in upstate New York, I was a New York Yankees fan. I was lucky enough to be around when Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra dominated the game. They were my heroes, especially Mickey. He was special, that Mick.

I missed the golden age of the Yankees: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio, but at least I can watch them play on YouTube. DiMaggio had the most beautiful, graceful swing, ever.

Aaron Judge

The new Lou Gehrig

Now the Yankees have a new “Iron Horse.” His name is Aaron Judge, and he is spectacular. Judge is a giant — six foot seven inches tall, and weighs 280 pounds. He’s built like a football linebacker, and yet he has rejuvenated the Yankees with his electrifying home runs and spectacular catches in right field.

Even the great Derek Jeter had to agree: Aaron Judge is the best rookie who ever wore pinstripes. And, like Jeter, Aaron Judge is a good and decent guy — highly respected by the fans and his team-makes. Judge always has a smile and happily signs autographs for his fans before the game.

But it’s Judge’s raw power that causes jaws to drop. He just doesn’t hit the ball, he crushes it. Judge has also inspired his team-mates to also smack homers into the bleachers, and now the Yankees have a new “Murderers Row.”

Thank goodness for YouTube, because you can see Aaron Judge’s astonishing at-bats, including his 495-foot homer. It’s only a matter of time before he knocks one over the wall and into the parking lot. Make no mistake: Judge is the real deal, and is my new Yankee baseball hero. Aaron Judge is the player to watch these days, and no foolin’.

RUSS MASON (shortstop)
As Teo, Saipan