Today is an awesome day. TMZ, Mr. Thomas Mark Zuniga, has graced us with a two-part guest post about baseball, and why he says it is the greatest sport of all time. Words have been spoken on The GBOAT about baseball, but TMZ brings in an entirely new viewpoint and perspective.
In fact, his viewpoint and perspective is why I like reading his blog. He grew up in Philadelphia, moved to Georgia, and after college (we graduated the same year. Exciting!) moved out to the West Coast. He has a great site where he talks about wandering around the West, some of his favorite TV shows, and also just his insight into life. Trust me when I say it is much more worth your time than any other TMZ in existence.
I grew up in the ripple rings of Philadelphia. Not to be confused with nipple rings, which also exist there. I was steeped in the grand Philadelphia sports tradition at an early age, and by “grand Philadelphia sports tradition,” I mean to say that I hated hockey, basketball, and football.
Ah, but baseball. Baseball was different.
My first baseball game took me across the Delaware River to Waterfront Park, home to the mighty Trenton Thunder. The Thunder was/were a farm team of the Red Sox, but now they’re New York Yankee property. I don’t really understand; it’d be like if you gave your firstborn son to that guy in class who always raised his hand.
Here’s what I remember from my first baseball game: does that guy on the loudspeakers have to talk so freaking much?, what the heck is a designated hitter?, and crying bitterly afterward because the Thunder lost.
I only cried twice as a kid, and both times involved baseball.
That last sentence isn’t technically true, but it sizzles up this post like some Randy Johnson chin music. I’ll tackle my other baseball cry session in a subsequent guest post at The GBOAT, but first, back to the pre-subsequent post.
Thunder games were great for some cheap thrills, but I couldn’t just rot in the minor leagues forever. It was time to graduate to the majors, and I couldn’t have picked a more lowly time to become a Phillies phan. The 90s were just dreadful for the Phils; I might as well have pulled for the Royals.
I was so innocent then. One night the Atlanta Braves were playing the Colorado Rockies, and I told my dad I was cheering for Atlanta. He scolded me and explained that cheering for the Braves was bad because they were in our division. My reaction?
But…but Atlanta is closer to us than Colorado. Be it Trenton, Philadelphia, or Atlanta, I just wanted to root for the team closest to my living room couch. What a brainless little baseball-loving boy I was.
Alas, I would learn. Despite moving to the dirty South at 12, I remained a phervent Phillies phan, and with the turn of the century, I finally witnessed a winning season—even playoff hunts that ultimately fell just short.
But then in 2007, the Phils finally broke that impossible playoff threshold, followed by their I-still-can’t-believe-it-actually-happened World Series championship in 2008. I can still hear Harry Kalas’s final call (and reenact the “Wheeler Shuffle”), still see Brad Lidge dropping to his knees after the closing strikeout.
My grandmother who usually goes to bed at 8 called me at midnight to celebrate with me. But celebrating at my home in Georgia wasn’t enough. So I drove 800 miles to Philadelphia the next morning and attended my team’s championship parade down Broad Street.
My 2008 was special and epic beyond words, and baseball was a big reason why.
It’s just a magical sport: those colorful uniforms and logos, the way infield dirt hugs outfield grass, and peanuts and crackerjack left on the ground for minimum wage workers to clean up.
And there was nothing like watching the lowly team with more losses than any other team in professional sports finally eclipse glory for just the second time in 125 years.
Baseball is the greatest sport of all-time.
Well—until my next guest post. Until then, pretend that statement is true. Just like how I only cried twice as a kid.
Is baseball indeed the greatest sport of all-time? Which team holds your devotion? Ever witness firsthand the glory of a championship parade?