daughter had a few really good questions for me the other day.
"Why are you watching baseball?" asked Alison, whose
exact age I can never pinpoint. (Every time I figure it out, she
confuses me with a birthday and a corresponding new number. Itís
like trying to keep up with changes to the tax laws. Almost.)
I responded with, "Uh, I donít know."
Question 2 got even tougher: "Why are you watching a
baseball game that took place in 1982?"
I didnít have a good answer to that one either, so I went with
an old standby: "I donít know, and get your big head out of
the way because I canít see the 25-year-old game."
(By the way, the "old standby" was only the first part
of my response. Also, in hindsight, I probably could have handled
that part about her head a little better. And for the record, her
head is in proper proportion to the rest of her - regardless of her
The referenced event was a replay of the 1982 World Series
between the Brewers and the St. Louis Cardinals. The fact that I
knew the outcome was an issue of contention with my daughter. It
also was the only reason for watching.
"Iíve wasted enough time watching baseball games with the
wrong ending," I told her. "They win this one."
For those of you who can (and care to) remember that World
Series, it was the Saturday afternoon game and the Brewers came from
behind to win. It was good to see Robin gliding at short, Coop
leaning at the plate and Ted Simmons running really, really slow.
Heck the whole gang was there - Gorman, Gantner, Benji, Charlie
Moore, Don Money. Rollie and his arm were hanging (literally) out in
Yet the highlight, in a way, was when the camera panned to the
crowd. There definitely was a different look in 1982 - mostly in the
hair. The males in the stands had a very shaggy look. The women were
But that wasnít the only difference: For the most part, the
players looked like the crowd. They did not appear to have been
manufactured at a baseball factory and then sent to the big leagues.
The 1982 Brewers were guys with hair and beards and, in some
cases, guts. But most of the guys were really, really skinny. They
hadnít been Ďroided up. It looked like the management could have
gone into the stands, picked the fans who were in the best shape and
had them go on the field. (But first they would have had to change
out of that flannel.)
The amount of money has probably changed more than the looks.
Back in 1982, you didnít ask the rhetorical question, "The
guy makes $10 million and he canít hit a curveball?" Instead,
you said, "They pay that guy $400,000 and he canít hit a
curveball?" The salaries were ridiculous, not offensive.
I started to think that maybe 1982 really was a better time for
baseball. Then I got really deep: Was it a better time for the rest
of the world?
Probably. We didnít have al-Qaida, though the Middle East was a
mess and we did have the Soviet Union. Yet while the Cold War
created some long-term tension, it didnít feel like they were
coming that particular day.
As for war, the United States would soon score a decisive victory
over Grenada. Not the toughest scheduling, but a win is a win.
The 1982 game took place in the afternoon because it was cold and
that was the best time of day for the players and the fans - though
maybe not the networks.
Now events take place in the evening so all the world can watch
and, mostly, so all the corporate sponsors are happy. I understand
this, but it often feels too choreographed.
So now you understand why, in response to my daughterís
question about watching a game from 1982, I simply said, "I donít
know." It was in everyoneís best interest to not tie together
al-Qaida, steroids, the Soviet Union, Grenada - she would have said,
"Gre-whata?" - and the power of media conglomerates.
Better she just move her big head out of the way and let me be.
I would like all custard businesses to stop displaying
promotional messages that make me sick.
Culverís is a big offender - though certainly not alone. One
day they tossed this gem to those who drove by the restaurant on
Sunset Drive: "Double Oreo marshmallow walleye is back."
On another day, "Turtle walleye is back."
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should clarify that
the flavors were listed on a different line than "walleye is
back." That said, it reads like one long flavor, and there is
no way I want a double Oreo marshmallow walleye cone. It sounds like
Murfís has pulled the same stunt. "Try a reuben shamrock
shake." No thanks. I might actually prefer the walleye/Oreo
Actually, no, I guess I wouldnít.
See? It gets you thinking.
I would ask that these places of business simply buy a semicolon
or, if one isnít available for purchase, have an employee make one
in his or her basement.
Longtime Waukesha resident Pete Kennedy is a
former Freeman editor. His column runs Saturdays in The Freeman.
Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org