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Sad to say, a bat might even the score

My maternal grandfather was an avid sports fan and influenced me to be the "Baltimoron" sports fan that I still am to this day.

Every day of his life, during the hot summers and well in to the fall playoff season, he would listen to the game on the transistor radio as he worked in his garden. Or, on the rare occasion he sat down, it would be in front of a TV to watch his beloved Orioles. He would curse at the television when Eddie Murray struck out, then cheer loudly the next inning as Murray parked a ball in to the right-field bleachers.

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It wasn't just the Orioles. He also taught me to love the game of baseball.

My grandfather was a ticket taker at Griffith Stadium for the Washington Senators and loved to take us to the ballpark to share in the excitement of seeing the game in person but by then we had all become Orioles fans. We would make the drive through the tunnel, holding our breath like it was our last — because he told us if we didn't it may be our last — to 33rd Street and Memorial Stadium.

We learned at a young age how to keep score in the "official" scorebook we bought at the front gate. We didn't need souvenirs; that scorebook was plenty.

I loved to play baseball, the smell of fresh cut grass and the smoothness the infield dirt. I loved rubbing Neatsfoot Oil on my Rawlings glove and molding it the way I wanted it. The crack of the bat as I dribbled the pitch weakly to the second baseman who scooped it up and threw me out. The pomp and circumstance that was Little League Opening Day each year is burned in to my scrambled brain.

I loved the changing sock styles from adding extra elastic to pull them up underneath your pants leg, showing only the sides, to a few years later where everyone wore them down to the top of their shoe.

I woke up early in the morning on game day and put my complete uniform on down to the cleats (until my mom noticed and made me take the cleats off), even if it was an evening game. I worked the brim of my cap to have just the right amount of curve to keep the sun out and the "coolness" factor in.

I'm sure many guys my age had very similar experiences that stay with them even now. Baseball was "America's Pastime," and everyone loved it.

Which is why I never understood why my brother didn't like baseball and chose lacrosse instead.

When he used to say "what kind of game would give you a perfectly good weapon [a bat] but not allow you to carry it with you as you run around the bases?" we all thought he was joking.

But after last weekend's fiasco in Boston, it's all starting to make sense. The racial comments directed at Adam Jones were despicable and should not be tolerated, but they didn't threaten his livelihood and I don't believe threatened his life.

The huge majority of Red Sox fans are not represented by this knucklehead. As he has before, Jones handled himself with class leaving the idiot in the stands just that, an idiot.

But what went on between the Red Sox pitching staff and Manny Machado was an absolute disgrace to the game and to sports in general. Throwing at a player's previously injured knees or even worse — aiming at his head — should have much more severe consequences than a warning and maybe, just maybe, an ejection.

You'll never convince me that these pitches weren't intentionally directed at Machado in retaliation for his late slide on Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia when they faced off in Baltimore.

Machado said it wasn't intentional; Pedroia was more upset with his teammates than with Machado. Yet it wasn't just one shot in retaliation but several times over the course of the next couple of games where they put not only his livelihood in danger but even his life itself.

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When Showalter was asked about retaliation, it was classic Buck when he said, "how are you gonna feel when you're standing at home plate and some guy has got hit in the head and there's blood coming out of his ears? Do you really feel that manly making that decision? Is that really, really smart?"

Maybe my brother was on to something. A professional pitcher's velocity and control can easily be considered a weapon so why not make it fair and keep the bat with you?

Or better yet, make the pitcher bat, even if you keep the designated hitter rule.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "Common sense is the foundation of all authorities, of the laws themselves, and of their construction."

I guess he wasn't thinking about baseball.

410-857-7896

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