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Nostalgia of diversion

No, not the song from Shojo Kakumei Utena. I was thinking about baseball, more specifically independent minor league baseball. It's been three years since I threw in the towel on the Rebel Baseball Review, the e-mail newsletter that I and a small band of volunteer correspondents had been putting together since 1995. I do miss the RBR somewhat, even though it was a lot of work putting all the team and player stats together for each issue during the season. It pretty much ate my weekends every summer for five years, which is one of the reasons I'm not too tempted to pick up the load again. (Drivel about baseball follows.)



The fringe benefits were pretty good. There's nothing quite like the pleasure of sitting in the press box at Midway Stadium (well, actually, given the cramped quarters in there, standing was a lot more common) getting treated like a real live member of the Fourth Estate, unless it's being able to sit down and talk philosophy with the team managers about how a team is built. You get to hear all kinds of neat stories from the players and the coaches and the people who work like dogs in the front office. There was also the undeniable egoboo of being, for a few years, the go-to guy on the subject of independent minor league baseball, and the fun of picking out the winners of the annual Mulcahy Award, which was intended to honor the best pitcher with the worst record in each of the independent leagues. There was also a lot of satisfaction in deducting baseball books, subscriptions to Baseball America, internet access charges, phone calls, and mileage to Aberdeen, Fargo, Duluth and Madison from my tax returns as business expenses.

No, I probably won't revive the RBR any time soon. There just isn't enough time for that in my life these days, and the lack of coverage we used to complain about on a weekly basis has been replaced by regular stories in Baseball America such as this excellent piece of analysis, and by team web sites that often include ticket-buying links along with a wealth of information on players and the team that we would have cheerfully maimed for in the pre-dot.com days of 1996. The historical side has also been well served by sites such as this, which provides some history on the leagues and teams that didn't make it.

One of these years when I've settled into a teaching job out East and need to find something to fill those summer months, I'll return to the RBR. The play's the thing, after all.

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