If you mention baseball to a french person, they will either look at you incomprehensibly or roll their eyes. It’s not that they don’t know about the sport of baseball. It’s that they don’t understand such slow action and, therefore, the French do not do baseball. At the World Baseball Classic, an every four-year event that actually includes teams from all over the world, the Dutch have a baseball team, the Italians have a baseball team, but the French team is largely composed of Major League players who have some French in their ancestry.
So it is with great gratitude that I watch Apple TV+’s Weekly WrapUp every Saturday. In the US, it is shown on Friday nights, but as I live in a timezone that is six hours ahead of the East Coast, I get it on Saturdays. Now that the PlayOffs are in full swing, I get a daily report which I watch at noon. I can watch a nine-inning game in eight minutes. I’m so happy I get that. And for some people, eight minutes is just perfect. They get all the action and none of the stress of waiting, inning by inning, to learn who wins. For those of you who aren’t big baseball fans, the better team doesn’t always win. It’s part of baseball.
For Game 1 of the World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Astros in Houston. I don’t know how fans in the US feel but, for me, the Astros have taken over from the Yankees as “the team we love to hate.” After the Astros won the World Series in 2017, it was discovered by Major League Baseball that the team was stealing signs. They did not lose their title. Fans were outraged. Maybe not Houston fans! Ok, then there is Dusty Baker who is now the manager of the Astros. He’s just about as nice a baseball person as you can find. It’s hard to imagine that he would be a party to sign stealing (any more than the rest of the teams). I know there are fans who are convinced that the Astros are still crooked.
Back to Game 1 played last Friday. It went ten innings. For a fan like me, watching a nail-biter in eight minutes just doesn’t do it. As the lead went back and forth between the teams, I was just imagining what it would be like sitting in the stands, ecstatic when it is your team ahead and down in the dumps when the other team took the lead. In the end, in the tenth inning, the Phillies won. So a word about the Astros Opening Nite pitcher. I realize that for some of you this is way more information than you care to know. But it will help you understand why some people breathe baseball. And why as my friend, Darcy’s father used to say: “there are two seasons in the year. Winter and baseball season.” He was not wrong.
Justin Verlander was the Opening Nite pitcher for the Astros. He is and has been a great pitcher. He used to pitch for the Detroit Tigers. Back in the day when the Oakland A’s finished first in the American League West, somehow their first opponent in the playoffs was the Detroit Tigers two years in a row. And twice with the two teams tied 2-2 with one game to go to play the next tier of the playoffs, Justin Verlander would be on the mound for Game 5. It didn’t matter how tired he was, like Marly’s ghost, he loomed large over the A’s. And the A’s lost. Justin Verlander is moche ( french for ugly, total yuk) in the minds of A’s fans. And here he was, ten years later, Opening Nite pitcher for the team we love to hate. It may have only been an eight-minute game, but for this A’s fan, I jumped up and down when the stats said that Verlander was the losing pitcher!!!
I grew up for the first fourteen years of my life in the Philadelphia suburbs. Nothing about Philadephia says ‘home’ to me. My mother moved from Princeton, NJ to lower Bucks County in her late seventies. So it is easy for me to root for the Phillies. The last time the Phils won the World Series was in 2008, the year my mother died. The Oakland A’s started out in 1904 as the Philadelphia A’s. In 1954, they moved to Kansas City. After a short unsuccessful stint there, they moved to Oakland in 1967. I’ve always felt a kinship to the Philadelphia A’s and, at one point in my life, was given a lifetime membership to the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Museum.
Four World Series games have been played. The teams are tied 2-2. Only the first two games were tight with the teams matching each other play for play. Last night, the Astros set a WS record: 4 pitchers pitched a No Hitter. Not one Phillies player got a hit. So what’s left is the best of three!
If you’ve read this far, thank you. People ask how I could have ever moved to Paris when I love baseball so much. I really don’t have an answer to that question. I can tell you that it feels very nice to write about baseball. I am hoping to go to Spring Training in Arizona next March. So I’ll end with a shout out to all Phillies fans around the world. Go Phighting Phils!!!
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