Stepping Back and Ahead

The following article was written by Gerry Garte

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Two unexpected visitors met at the World Series last season. The Giants and Rangers made it an amazing year. Roy Halladay and Josh Hamilton were exceptional. The pitching was no-hit strong.

It will be tough to match the excitement of the 2010 season. But add your team — Giants not included — to the top of the mix in ‘11, and the excitement doubles.

Many Major League records were set in 2010. Here are my favorites:

  • Most consecutive seasons of 30 or more HRs at the start of a career, 10 seasons, Albert Pujols
  • Most consecutive seasons of 100 or more RBI at the start of a career, 10 seasons, Albert Pujols
  • Most consecutive  seasons with 200 or more hits at the start of a career, 10 seasons, Ichiro Suzuki
  • Most pinch hit home runs in a career, 23, Matt Stairs
  • Most consecutive hits in an inning, 11, 8th inning, Colorado Rockies

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Baseball is the greatest of games, but it’s the administration of the game that’s been a work in progress. Putting dollar signs aside, here are two recommendations to improve the game:

o   Let kids enjoy more of the World Series

When I was a kid, Madie Ives Elementary School knew the importance of the World Series, particularly on a school day. The people in charge figured it’d be a good idea to turn on the two cafeteria TVs for the kids and teachers having a late lunch. We’d watch pre-game and part of the first inning before heading back to class. When the final bell rang, I was either biking or running home. I got there about the fifth or sixth inning. It was great, and the TV was all mine. The parents were at work, and my sister was out. Life was good. Series games in the daytime were outstanding. Then TV made its play, and by the late ‘80s World Series games were played exclusively at night, running well past many bedtimes.

What I’d like to see in 2011: Baseball deciding in the near future to play two of the first four World Series games during daytime. Opening game of the World Series would become a significant daytime event. When the Series shifted, either Game 3 or Game 4 would be a day game. It will bring more of the best baseball to more youngsters.

o   Raise standards for the wood in bats

I’m repeating myself, but it’s worth repeating. Shattering and splintering wood bats have been a growing health hazard to pro ballplayers the past few years. Last season, 2010, included a sobering moment on a Major League diamond. It happened when Tyler Colvin of the Cubs was impaled by a shattered bat in Miami. The wood pierced his upper chest and fell to the ground. It was not life-threatening, but he missed the last two weeks of the season. A few days later, Cliff Lee of the Rangers was nicked behind the ear by a splintered bat. It drew little blood, but it was a very close call.  I took it as another warning to baseball to establish stricter standards for the wood in bats, and the bat-making process. How many issues can be more important than player safety?

What I’d like to see in 2011: New standards to reduce shattered bats by 80% in the first year.

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My first game: July 1962, 11 years old, my parents, sister and I were in Dorchester, outside Boston, visiting my grandparents. The New York Yankees were also in town. So my Dad got tickets and took me. Funny thing, not so funny, he left one of the two tickets on top of the TV set in my grandparents’ apartment. We found this out at the Fenway Park gate. Out of my view, the issue was resolved, and my Dad smoothly took us to our seats in right field. My first look at a Major League field was majestic. There was a bright green below — spreading to the leftfield monster – and clear blue above. The baseball diamond, at any playing age, was gladly familiar. There were many home runs in the game. The one I remember was by Mickey Mantle to right center. By age 30, Mantle was a legend. The Yankees won the game, 12-4.  It was a wonderful first Big League experience.

–Gerry Garte (Dad:  Sam Garte, age 93)

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This article was written by Gerry Garte

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