Play Ball

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I know not with what weapons World War Three will be fought, but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones.


Admittedly, such a progression of events would not be ideal. But a silver lining is that those left might also play with the sticks and stones, and maybe they’d get baseball right.

I’m not talking about speeding up the game. This is what I’m talking about:

C.S. Lewis once said that the decline of English literature began the day Oxford University opened its English literature department. Yogi Berra once grumbled that the worst thing that ever happened to baseball was Little League. When I first heard the Lewis remark, I didn’t have any idea what he was talking about, and when I first heard Yogi’s comment, I dismissed it as the grousing of a cranky but lovable old bastard. I have since come to see the wisdom of what they were saying and to realize that they were both making essentially the same point: those things that exist to be enjoyed do not benefit much from organization and seriousness of purpose.

I am not suggesting that Yogi’s point contains a kernel of truth. I am suggesting that it is quite literally true: the worst damn thing that ever happened to baseball is not the DH; it is Little League.

When I first read these paragraphs, I dismissed them as the grousing of a crank. But I read on, and Bill James persuaded me.


Children Playing Baseball, Boston. Peter H. Dreyer