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Americas Fallen Pastime How Baseball Players Have Damaged a National Institution Baseball fans are easy to please Give them a warm summer day a cold drink and their favorite team in the thick of the pennant race and they feel like kings Watch them second guess the manager as he pulls the teams ace pitcher in favor of the young fireballer Listen to them cheer as he strikes out the opponents slugger with the bases loaded securing the win Watch them do it all over again the very next day Listen to the debates rage Who is the best player of all time Ty Cobb Babe Ruth Ted Williams Mickey Mantle Ken Griffey Jr Should the designated hitter be abolished Should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame Ask them for their favorite baseball moment of the past and prepare to have your ear talked off Older fans might choose Bobby Thompsons Shot Heard Round the World which captured the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers or Willie Mays over-the-shoulder back-to-the-plate catch to rob Clevelands Vic Wertz of an extra-base hit in the 1954 World Series Somewhat younger fans might take Carlton Fisks frantic waving as his game-winning homer in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series clanged off of Fenway Parks left field foul pole or the dominance of Johnny Bench Joe Morgan Tony Perez and the rest of the Big Red Machine during the mid-1970s The youngest might call up Baltimore shortstop Cal Ripken Jrs victory lap around Camden Yards after eclipsing Lou Gehrigs seemingly unbreakable consecutive games streak or the excitement of St Louis Mark McGwire and the Chicago Cubs Sammy Sosa as they relentlessly pursued Roger Maris single season home run record Take baseball at its simplest its purist and it can be almost religious Baseball fans only ask for one thing in return As Braves
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