Senator saves baseball for the die-hard fans

April 10, 2007|by TIM ROWLAND

Today, on this date, April 9, in the year of our Lord as we now know it 2007, I am proud to say that I voted for John Kerry.

True, I was under a bit of duress at the time, and by "bit of duress" I mean that my life had been amply threatened. But a fact is a fact and the peculiarities inconsequential. My vote went in the Kerry column.

Also true is the fact that I never bragged about it much. Until now. What did he do to deserve this mental 180 on my part?

Condemn the war? Fight for the environment? Find a way to fund our entitlement programs?

Negative. He did something much better - he stood up and bravely worked to bring the Major League Baseball Extra Innings package back to cable television.


Now that's the kind of politician I admire, one who - OK, I'll say it, stepped up to the plate and went to bat for the true interests of poor working Joes like me.

Who would have believed a U.S. senator capable of actually producing something meaningful? They can do some real good for real people? Who knew?

What happened is one of those battles of the airwaves, where evil satellite services tried to hold monopoly over baseball broadcasts. And I say evil satellite services, purely because I don't have one. So my quest, nay, my duty, to watch 14 hours of uninterrupted Major League action a day was in serious jeopardy.

A lot of other people were in the same boat. But we common citizens stood up to be heard. We wrote well-thought-out, persuasive letters such as this actual missive:

"Dear Sir:

Moving away from home was tough enough, but at least I had Extra Innings to watch the TIGERS!!! I love Extra Innings! KEEP IT ON CABLE! WE LIVE FOR THIS! Go TIGERS!


Montgomery, AL"

Now that is an example of an effective letter. As a matter of fact, if you are writing a letter to your congressfolk, I highly recommend it as a template.

For example, if you are concerned about global warming, you should write:

"Dear Congressman Fullovit:

"It has come to my attention that temperatures are rising across the continent, including the stadium where we watch our TIGERS!!! This troubling scientific phenomenon, coupled with potential changes in the Gulf Stream, leads me to implore in all sincerity, GO TIGERS!!!!"

See, baseball fans are a serious lot. How else can you explain the fact that, despite freezing temperatures, whipping winds and flurries of snow, 2,569 people dutifully arrived at "Municipal" Stadium on opening day Thursday evening to show their spirited support of concession-stand beer sales.

Cold? Humph. If any of the pitchers had thrown a spitball, the grounds crew would have been called out to treat the ball with a de-icer.

I lasted all of four innings, and was pretty proud of that. The reward was to watch baseball actually being played in the snow. The stadium crowd looked like Buffalo Bills fans in mid-December.

I couldn't help but wonder if any of the young prospects were Latinos coming north for the first time. If so, all I can say is, welcome to Hagerstown - just be glad it's not Detroit.

But weather helps make sports interesting. I think of all my not-so-favorite spectator sports - golf, basketball, auto racing - and it's obvious that if any of them were played in snow, we would all be a lot more likely to watch.

Can you imagine a NASCAR race with six inches of snow on the ground and six more in the forecast, with drivers dodging the salt trucks every other lap? Or Tiger trying to find his ball in the middle of a whiteout.

I don't know, it's just food for thought.

After all, a number of fans at the game Thursday were able to put the best face on the conditions. At least, they said, they didn't have to worry about their beer getting warm.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at You can listen to his podcast, The Rowland Rant, on

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