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5 Reasons Why Catcher is the Best Spot on the Field

By Dan Saipher | Lists | March 31, 2011 |

By Dan Saipher | Lists | March 31, 2011 |

Enter baseball’s Opening Day for 2011. As a former player and junkie, the diamond will always mean something more to me than most, which makes each successive spring renenwal of the season more difficult.

The phrase “National Pastime” used to be a proud part of the baseball mythology; a simple yet noble acknowledgment of the sport’s historical impact on the American landscape, and in particular, its youth. But now it hangs heavy, for the game is laboring in recent times, lacking the superstar personalities of the NBA, or the violent Colisseum-like fervor that permeates the NFL experience. And baseball has only itself to blame. Too slow to police itself, too sure of its own popularity, too unwilling to grow with technologies, and too cowardly to even attempt financial correction (and I’m not talking exclusively about the “haves”). Even the rivalries have grown tepid; it used to be fun to hate you Red Sawx fans. Now our stadiums overprice the die-hards and make way for pink and neon-appareled band wagoners. (Note: I can’t tell which of you guys magically became “fans” when you discovered baseball as Manny and Papi popped pills en route to breaking “The Curse.” Must have lost track about the same time we were blissfully ignorant of Roger Clemens’ “revival” …)

What does baseball need? How about more players with charisma? Certainly more than Joe Mauer, who for all his greatness has inspired less excitement than my roommates changing shampoo. How about something original, instead of forcibly inserting a half-assed “World Cup” in February? Maybe something more original than a tournament that means nothing to players who haven’t removed themselves from their carbonite casings of winter? Might as well forget it, though. After all, we can’t even get an honest commentary on two-plus decades of synthetic enhancements and lackadaisical care for the integrity of the game.

But I tell ya what we need more of: catchers. Oh, yes, the only sonsofbitches with any sort of toughness on the diamond. Those self-sacrificing morons who dare to don the
“tools of ignorance”, who stare out at the rest of the sun-soaked grass and see a field of daisy-pickers with fresh knees, unspoiled backs, and clean uniforms.

Without further delay, the reasons why catcher is always the best spot in the cathedral:

1) Heckling

The Prime Ministers of Put-Downs. Monarchs of Mockery. Trash-talking is a part of virtually all sports, but behind the faux leather, wrought-iron catcher’s masks are crafty veterans of psychological warfare and detrimental distraction.

2) Dealing with Pitchers

Trying to quantify the levels of nuttery reached by hurlers is damn tough. They have coordinated routines that rival theatre productions, and superstitions that would make Miss Cleo drop her Jamaican accent. Pitchers have more psychoses, idiosyncrasies, and neuroses than a suburban basement of teenage girls. Every team has half a roster of Steve Nebraskas.

3) Dottie Hinson


4) We Always Get The Lady

Sometimes it is a red-headed, Whitman-chanting baseball mystic who teaches part time at Alabaster Community College. But for washed-up Jake Taylor, it was an olympian in the 400 meter individual medley. And Jake straightens out Charlie Sheen. Twice.

5) The Minor League Home Run Champ Himself

Oh Crash, you do say such things. While Tim Robbins flailed that wet noodle of a right arm on camera, Kevin Costner was such a good athlete that he actually hit a few balls out of the park while filming Bull Durham. He’s the epitome of a catcher; underappreciated, wise and weathered, and willing to tell an opposing batter what pitch is coming to teach a guy a lesson. And for your info, yes, I have done that, but unfortunately the guy couldn’t throw a curveball more than fifty-five feet so it did not matter.

Dan Saipher may or may not have urinated on a very large and very verdigris monster near Kenmore Square. It’s just the right thing to do as a fan.

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