Baseball’s Never Been, Never Will Be ‘Just a Game’.

Now that I got the stupidity of the day out of my system (see the “article” that follows this one…they can’t all be gold), I thought I’d take this space to write something much less ridiculous.

The game of baseball is something I hear people complain about way too often. Not so much from those who are fans of the game, although those people have their complaints as well (strike zones, realignment, All-Star Game intricacies, instant replays, the DH, asterisks, Series throwing conspiracy theories, etc). I’m talking more so about the people who only take the game for what it is on the surface. Nine innings. Twenty seven outs. Nine players. A ball, a glove and a bat. Some dirt, some grass and unpredictable weather.

“It’s boring”.

“It takes too long”.

“Nothing ever happens”.

And on, and on.

What these people fail to recognize is what the sport is aside from the score sheets. Aside from the box scores. Aside from the record books. Beyond the greatest ballplayers of all-time, their stats and their plaques. More than Cracker Jack, peanuts, hot dogs and beer. The cold April games, the cool Fall nights and the scorching Summer afternoons.

Beyond all of that. If you look beyond all of that, you will find a game that provides great opportunity. Not only in fame and fortune to those who play it. Not only to the parents who share the joy of the game with their children. Not only the fact that the game has been there as a distraction during times of war and as a sense of normalcy after national tragic events. The game is all of that and more. The beautiful thing about the game is that you don’t know when something amazing is going to happen and the fact that the possibility exists for something incredible to happen is there all of the time. And I don’t mean simply home runs, no-hitters, walk-off victories and perfect games.

I’m talking about the game as a venue to do some good. It serves as an amazing platform to raise awareness on a number of social issues and to raise funds for organizations looking to find cures for a long list of illnesses.

I recently featured a Youtube video with Brian Wilson and Cody Ross of the San Francisco Giants teaming up with Keenan Cahill. Cahill is a favorite on Youtube and has accrued millions of views for his lip-synching videos. The Giants teamed up with him to help raise awareness for Maroteaux-Lamy disorder (the disease Cahill suffers from) and to help raise funds for Cahill’s family who face medical bills for Cahill for prescriptions that are often extremely expensive.

Another article I recently posted described what the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) accomplishes with it’s hard work year in and year out. This past May, they honored the Ricketts family and the Cubs at Wrigley Field with their highest honor, the Best of Illinois award. With Ron Santo a huge part of the Cubs’ family for decades and having suffered from diabetes his entire life, the organization and the Ricketts family have been huge proponents in raising awareness and helping raise funds to find a cure.

When people show up to the ballpark all year long, often between 2-3 million people per season per team, those fans are capable of doing much more than simply voting their favorite players into an All-Star game, willing a game-ending strike out, or singing Sweet Caroline. If given the right opportunity, they make a difference in areas that matter way more than what happens on a baseball field. They can in fact help fund organizations that are working day and night to find cures. You think seeing the Cubs win the World Series would change your life? Think about if their mere existence helped build an opportunity for complete strangers to unite and fund a cure for a disease you or a loved one has suffered from or passed away because of. Now, that would really affect your life. And you’d have more to show for it than just a commemorative SI issue and a sweatshirt to show for it.

Vice President Joe Biden was in town yesterday at a CURE (Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy) event reassuring folks in Chicago who support the organization that a cure is possible. Obama advisor, David Axelrod, introduced Biden to the crowd and the Vice President went on to acknowledge Axelrod’s wife for her commitment and thanked her for starting the organization. Axelrod and his wife, Susan, have worked hard to help find a cure since their daughter started suffering from seizures at the age of seven months. The city of Chicago showed up in droves. 900 people were in attendance and over $800,000 was raised. Axelrod supports Chicago baseball following both the Cubs and the White Sox. Obama is 100% a White Sox fan although has admitted to checking all scores of the day during late night episodes of Sportscenter. You know the two of them set aside their North side/South side differences when it comes to something much more important than who wins the BP Cup this season.

The baseball community is a powerful thing. When fans work with other fans, millions of people can be focused on finding a cure for one thing and that is an incredible opportunity. A friend of mine, Alison, lost her brother, Christopher, to what is known as Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) in 2002.

Christopher Donalty/DonaltyCure.com

Christopher was a talented pitcher from Utica, NY, a star player for both the Proctor High Raiders and Utica Post’s American Legion team. I can’t imagine what it was like for them to lose him so unexpectedly and suddenly. You can read more about Christopher here and find details about the upcoming CURE fundraiser the Donalty family is arranging for this September 17th.

I know how large Cubs Nation is. It’s pretty obvious…’nation’…it’s in the name. Cubs fans are everywhere. If you happen to be a Cubs fan and read this blog and are in the Utica area, I encourage you to attend and donate if you can. Even if you’re not in Utica area, this little gadget called the Internet is like throwing us all in the same backyard anyway. You may have missed the Biden and Axelrod CURE event last night in Chicago and you may only find ballot boxes at your local ballpark for All-Star voting. However, often, MLB gets involved in making a difference outside of the scorecards and I encourage you to get involved as well. If you don’t see the opportunity to get involved with CURE at Wrigley and you or someone you know has had their life affected by the disease, take advantage of the link provided above.

Baseball fans are capable of accomplishing all sorts of feats together. Yes, much, much greater than ‘the wave’.

The next time you hear someone complain about the game of baseball, feel free to kick off your argument of how great the sport is with mentions of ‘hardest thing to do in sports is hit a 95 MPH fastball’, or ‘there is no clock, someone HAS to win’ or ‘how can you not like America’s favorite pastime’. Once those arguments fail, as they usually do, throw in the fact that baseball is another great opportunity for millions of people to have some fun, unite resources and truly do some good.

I’d like to see them argue with that.

The Crosstown Classic continues tonight. Cubs/Sox at US Cellular. Davis on the mound for the Cubs. More Cubs-specific content to come. Until then, as always, Go Cubs Go! And seriously, why not root for your team to do well, while the fans step up and do some good?

Cubs Rap!

And now, a ridiculous musical interlude. Gimme a beat…

I like the Cubs cuz they are great.

I root for them when they’re at home plate.

Rooting for Cubs is good clean fun.

I always clap when they hit home runs.

One time I went and then they lost.

I then had dinner. A salad. Tossed.

I watched the News recap the game.

I hoped they won. Still lost. So lame.

I like Wrigley and Ernie’s statue.

Stay alert. Foul balls come at you.

I like nachos. I like cheese.

I don’t like ticket service fees.

Right now the standings make me sad.

I felt that way about ‘My Two Dads’.

Whatever happened to Paul Reiser.

I drink Corona not Budweiser.

This rap is just off my head.

Had to do work. Wrote this instead.

Sorry if you didn’t like it.

Baseball’s not football. They don’t hike it.

I think Starlin Castro’s awesome.

Retire 8 for Andre Dawson.

I like the Cubs cuz they are great.

I root for Cubs when they’re at home plate.

One day I hope they win it all.

Result: twelve day Wrigleyville pub crawl.

People will be so damn happy.

Like they are when I’m done rapping.

Go Cubs.

Go.

Go Cubs.

Go.

Like getting tagged at the plate….we out!  Byrd to your mother.

I need to get more sleep.