Archive for Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Smith: Fourth of July without baseball? That’s just un-American

July 9, 2008

When it comes to national holidays I'm generally a nonchalant celebrator. Sure, I'm glad we have them and I'm not against them by any means, but let's just say you'll neither catch me in a pseudo-Santa stocking cap on Christmas nor waving an American flag while singing Toby Keith songs on July 4.

However, like most red-blooded American males, I associate the Fourth of July with all your patriotic staples - fireworks, eating and baseball.

I've never been gung-ho for the fireworks but this is America and this is what we do on Independence Day, so I'll throw my support behind that.

Eating? That's always appealing. And holidays are an excuse to gorge ourselves, right? Oh, they're not? I've been going about this all wrong.

But baseball, that's the national pastime - so I've been told as long as I've cared about sports. You've got to have some baseball on July 4.

Needless to say I was kind of bummed when I saw the Kansas City Royals were going to be out of town this past Friday. I guess I could have watched them on the tube, but live baseball is the thing to do on such a holiday. I didn't have the means or the inspiration to hop on a jet and follow the Royals down to St. Petersburg, Fla., to watch them take on the Rays. So I was staring at a baseball-less fourth.

Yeah, the T-Bones were home for the holiday, but they're not even a major league affiliate. They play in the Northern League - north of what, the Mason-Dixon line? Besides, they were slated to play Schaumburg. Who? That's right, the Schaumburg Flyers. Most of the Northern League is comprised of teams from the greater suburban Chicago area (i.e. Schaumburg, Ill.) save Kansas City and Winnipeg - that must be the team that puts the "Northern" in the Northern League.

Ultimately, I couldn't see myself spending the ultimate baseball holiday watching Schaumburg play the T-Bones. Mmmmm, T-Bones (drool).

Basically, I was left with food and fireworks and no baseball on America's birthday. For shame.

Joining some friends for a July 4 party outdoors in rural Kansas, I couldn't even watch my mediocre, yet somehow loveable, Royals on television. (Just as well, they got pummeled, 11-2, by the Rays, the team with the best MLB record.)

Sans America's pastime, I instead passed time throwing Frisbee before dinner. Frisbee isn't even a sport, let alone a substitute for baseball.

Strike one.

Perchance I could redeem myself with dinner. What are we having?

Lamb burgers.

I'm sorry, do you have something in your mouth? I thought you said lamb burgers instead of hamburgers.

No? You did say lamb burgers? My bad.

Strike two.

Thankfully, the fireworks kept me from going down swinging on Independence Day, but I still felt a void as we left the party and headed to my friend's Kansas City, Mo., apartment.

There, we turned on SportsCenter and got our fill of baseball highlights in just before midnight. And as an added bonus, we got highlights from the Nathan's Fourth of July International Hot Dog Contest.

Now that tastes like America.

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