Baseball fan then and now

I grew up in the days of McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. Things are different now and so am I.

The Harrington household was definitely baseball-first in terms of sports. Aside from Dad recording Chiefs games to watch on his own time, Cardinals baseball was the dominant sport on our television. In some ways, it seemed like those were baseball’s glory days. Turns out it was mostly steroid’s glory days.

Juicing does not really bother me like it seems to bother a lot of people. It was legal at the time most of them were doing it, so of course, the top athletes turned to something like roids to set them apart. Anyway, the point here is that everyone was hitting homers like crazy, especially my childhood hero, Mark McGwire.

As the steroid era closed and McGwire faded away, the Cardinals brought up a new HR champ. Albert Pujols stepped up to fill the void McGuire was leaving with some of the greatest hitting the sport had seen. Long underpaid, Pujols left to chase money out west. Again, I do not blame him in the least. I’m still a huge fan of both Pujols and McGuire.

Photo from NBC Sports

Once Pujols was gone, the game quickly stopped holding my attention. The World Series wins in 2006 and 2011 were the pinnacle as a Cardinals fan. Yearly trips to the playoffs were exciting, yet eventually just routine.

Regular season baseball is ridiculous

When the Cardinals are not in the playoffs, I struggle to take note of anything going on. The regular season is so long that it cannot hold my attention. The games themselves are already crazy-long. I am not going to spend dozens of Summer nights sitting on my couch for hours on end hoping that the Cards get to bat soon.

Going to a game is different. The ballpark atmosphere is a blast, filled with tradition, a sense of Summertime, and delicious, expensive snacks and brews. Making it to a game and having the money to spend is an obvious issue. Dropping empty peanut shells onto my carpet at home just isn’t the same somehow.

I tried fantasy baseball for a while in high school, but it is easily the most tedious of the major fantasy sports. Your players play almost daily, so you need to determine who starts and sits every day, keeping in mind pitching matchups, stadiums, and weather conditions. For the casual fan, it is too much.

I like the sport, so I’m going to give it another shot

Recently homerun hitting has been on the rise again in Major League Baseball. Hitters like Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge are bringing the long-ball back. Numerous hitters last year had 30+ homers, which is my kind of baseball if it’s going to keep my attention.

I’ve said before that fantasy is the Rosetta Stone of sports. Playing fantasy forces you to learn a bit more about the players and get more familiar with trends in the sport. I’ve joined a public fantasy baseball league with strangers this year so that I can have a no-strings-attached window into the MLB. My team is extremely Cardinal-heavy 🙂

I’m going to do my best to get back into the sport this season, especially on the STL Cardinals side of things. Maybe baseball could be just the thing I need when I’m rocking my new son to sleep many nights. Or maybe it will continue to bore me and I won’t want to risk falling asleep and falling over onto the little fella. Time will tell!

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