Baseball & Radio…

It’s as if baseball were made for the radio…

Back in ’84 the Detroit Tigers won 35 of their first 40 games and cruised to a World Series win. They were dominating with players like Trammel, Whitaker, Morris, Lopez, and Gibson. That spring, summer and fall, my dad, brother, and I listened to Ernie Harwell call the games on dad’s red Channel Master transistor radio (WJR, 760AM). We lived in Carmel, IN (just north of Indianapolis) so, depending on the weather, we’d miss portions of the game when the station faded out. No such trouble anymore… I get my fix with the MLB At Bat app. The Tigers is still the team though the broadcasters, players, stadium, and technology have changed. I miss Ernie starting the season off with Scripture, but the new guys are good.

The pace of baseball, the strike-out and homer calls, the rising tension of a no-hitter, the battle between pitcher and hitter are best enjoyed on radio. I’m looking forward to another season…

The Tigers radio broadcaster who started every season with a quote of Song of Songs…

Snowpocalypse may be going on in my immediate environs, but my mind is on the warmth of Florida where baseball teams are about to start spring training. Tigers pitchers and catchers are due to report tomorrow and begin their work toward the regular season.

Baseball is the only sport that works on radio. Football has too many players and too much motion on every single play to make it radio-worthy. Basketball and hockey have too many passes, too much constant action to make it work. Baseball, on the other hand, is the perfect pace for radio play-by-play. The game is largely a duel between two players, pitcher and hitter. The broadcaster keeps us in the tension of each at-bat with mentions of pitch-counts and pitch-types. With a bat-struck ball comes a burst of activity–every man on the field moving–but still paced so that the radio-man can describe it. And there is enough time between each pitch for a bit of reflection.

Ernie Harwell (1918-2010)

I’ve had the pleasure of listening to some of the great radio broadcasters. When I moved to St. Louis in the early 2000s I quickly became a fan of Jack Buck. I heard him call his final season before his death. Back in 1984, my father, brother, and I listened to many of the Detroit Tigers games, called by one of the all-time greats, Ernie Harwell. The Tigers went on to win the World Series that year…and my love of baseball on radio was fixed. Every great radio-man has his signature calls, and we grew to love Ernie’s. He’d tell his listeners the home town of those in the stands who caught foul balls. How did he know that?! When a batter took a called third strike he’d say: “He stood their like the house by the side of the road, and watched it go by.” His home run call: “That one is long gone!”

Ernie professed faith in Christ. He was quick to give God credit for any success he had. When he entered the Hall of Fame in 1981, he said, “Baseball is a tongue-tied kid from Georgia growing up to be an announcer and praising the Lord for showing him the way to Cooperstown.” Every year he started his broadcast with a reading of Song of Songs 2:11-12 (KJV):

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

The season after Ernie went on to his eternal reward, I happened to be in Comerica Park the night the Tigers honored him. They handed out pictures of Ernie behind the mic and ran the following video tribute during the game. His faith in Jesus Christ, “his Lord and Savior,” was explicitly mentioned…

PBS's Ken Burns thinks baseball players who used steroids should suffer. Murderers, not so much…

The protector of baseball history, director Ken Burns, said baseball players who used steroids need to suffer. And he didn’t mince words: “Those motherf—ers should suffer for a while.”

On the other hand, Burns is willing to rewrite history to protect from suffering those who kill children. From Nat Hentoff’s pen:

Ken Burns, who has created deeply illuminating television series on subjects such as the Civil War and baseball, was the director and co-producer of “Not for Ourselves Alone.” He is now completing what will be the most definitive documentary series on jazz in international television history. I have seen some of it; and, judging by the expertise of the person who interviewed me for it, I am sure it will equal Burns’ Civil War project.

Why, then, did Ken Burns remove from “Not for Ourselves Alone” Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s passionate descriptions of abortion as “child murder” and “infanticide?” And why did none of the reviews of the documentary I saw in the mainstream press mention this distortion of the record of these original feminists?

I asked Ken Burns if he had known of their pro-life views. “Yes,” he said unhesitatingly. “But I thought it really important to show the connection between the women’s and the abolitionist movements. How Frederick Douglass, for instance, so strongly stood up for women’s right to vote.”

“But in your research,” I told Burns, “you couldn’t have missed how often and fiercely they fought against abortion.” Burns did not deny that they did, but he insisted that what he calls “the largest social transformation in American history” should not, in his documentary, have been “burdened by present and past differing views on choice.”

I respect Burns a great deal, but his use of the word “choice” indicates to me where he’s coming from on the subject of abortion. Both Anthony and Stanton believed unequivocally that in an abortion the unborn child does not have a choice of whether to continue living.

Burns’s moral outrage is a good example of the twisted, confused, blinded, and Godless ethics of our time. We are outraged at rich, pampered athletes who hit home runs with steroid-aided muscles yet delighted that our highest court taught us that children in the womb are really not children at all. Those cells are merely non-persons, discardable property…abort away!

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight! (Is. 5:20-21)

God have mercy on us…

Major League Baseball's Wacky Transaction Rules and Lingo

Anyone who has tried to keep up with the various transactions, trades, options, statuses, etc. of MLB players inevitably has gotten lost in a land of confusion. Here are a few sites to give you some sort of clue—but you’ll forget it all. The next time you hear someone talking about Type A or Type B or a Non-Tender Free Agent, or Super 2 Status, or Clearing Waivers, or The Rule 5 Draft, or being Designated for Assignment, or Outrighted, you can fake like you know what he means and quick look at these sites.

Rob Neyer’s Transaction Primer (this is on some sort of ESPN archival site and loaded slowly).

“Major League Baseball Transactions” on Wikipedia

Free Agency Primer

Business of Baseball Glossary

The 40-Man Roster: How Does It Work? Waivers

And all of this probably changed with the new CBA.

One other baseball link: Check out a PDF of the official rules. Some crazy stuff in there:

3.18 The home team shall provide police protection sufficient to preserve order. If a person, or persons, enter the playing field during a game and interfere in any way with the play, the visiting team may refuse to play until the field is cleared.

PENALTY: If the field is not cleared in a reasonable length of time, which shall in no case be less than 15 minutes after the visiting team’s refusal to play, the umpire- in-chief may forfeit the game to the visiting team.

Pitchers and catchers in about six weeks…