Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Split Pea Soup with Tommy Lasorda

Before you all get too excited, no – I was not the lucky journalist who got to interview Tommy Lasorda. I have never felt compelled to pick up a copy of the L.A. Daily News, but I did yesterday, because he was on the front page. Over a bowl of split pea soup in the executive dining room of the Dodger Stadium press box, he chatted with reporter Tom Hoffarth about basically, The World According to Mr. Dodger. And while I've been told, "There's no crying in baseball," this piece did get me all misty-eyed.

Few people realize that I am a baseball fan, and when they find this out, they rail against the game. "It's too slow." "Those guys aren't athletes." But they're missing the point. While the finer points of the game still elude me – I'm still not sure what an error is, and neither apparently, are some umpires – I love how it stands as a metaphor for America. With all its imperfections, we are still looked upon by most of the world as a winning team. Indeed, baseball can stand in as a metaphor for life, and how we all strive to overcome obstacles while working to win with what we have. And sometimes, as Kirk Gibson's famous home run that cinched the Dodgers' 1988 World Series victory, with what we don't have.

Baseball players come in all shapes and sizes. A brawny guy can be a power hitter, but not the greatest runner. Pitchers are never who you want at bat when the stakes are high. And having a pinch runner at my service in elementary school would have saved many an embarrassing moment in gym class.

Tommy Lasorda in 1976, taking
the helm of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
My point is that everyone brings something to the field, according to his individual strengths and abilities. And in the age of the high-profile, product endorsing, bling-laden athlete, it's refreshing to enjoy a game where while there are definitely stars, the excitement is about a favorite team as a whole.

As a writer and fan of words in general, I have to acknowledge that the sport of baseball has contributed more idioms to American English than anything I can think of, with the possible exception of the works of Shakespeare.

There is, of course, a certain glamour about baseball, but it never supercedes the fundamental family-oriented atmosphere of the game. Last night during the All-Star Game, the cameras panned the audience to show celebrities in the stands. Marc Anthony sang the National Anthem. But as he sang, there was a satellite shot of a Marine unit stationed in Kandahar, standing in reverent salute.

The only complaint I have about baseball is, ironically, the food they serve at stadiums: mediocre, overpriced, and usually cold by the time you get it. If only Lasorda would start a second career as a food critic. With his trademark tact and diplomacy, maybe the @#%&$!* vendors would step up to the plate - pun intended.


  1. We never did go over the infield fly rule, balks or the suicide squeeze. Maybe next time. Good post ... for a Dodger fan ;-)

  2. Right back atcha, #4 in the League!