Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Buy Me Some Peanuts And Crackerjack

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville Nine that day ...

You recognize that? It's the opening line from a very famous poem/story.

Then there's Katie Casey or Nelly Kelly.

Katie Casey was baseball mad. Nelly Kelly loved baseball games.

Those are the alternating first lines of another famous song, from two different versions. They have different verses but the same choruses.

The Mudville Nine? They lost that day, 4-3. They had a chance in the ninth inning to pull it out, of course. They were down a run with two out and none out before Flynn and Blake hit back-to-back singles, bringing up the big man himself, mighty Casey.

In modern day baseball, Casey would have been on his second or third team by now and be locked into a long-term, $100 million deal. He'd hit a lot of longballs, strikeout a lot, rarely run hard out of the box and be essentially inaccessible to the local fans.

Back in 1888, he was the hometown hero.

Anyway, TB doesn't have to look up what happened next: "Oh somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout. But there is no joy in Mudville. Mighty Casey had struck out."

Or is it has?

As for Katie and Nelly? Well, they were the kind of dates that you always wanted to find, the ones who wanted to be taken to the Polo Grounds, as opposed to the art museum. Not that TigerBlog doesn't enjoy a good impressionist exhibit or anything.

The common chorus for Katie and Nelly?

It starts out: "Take Me Out To The Ballgame." Perhaps you've heard it.

It has to be up there with "Happy Birthday," "My Country Tis Of Thee" and the Star Spangled Banner an as the most universally known songs in American history. And "Born to Run."

TigerBlog loves both slices of Americana.

"Casey at the Bat" was actually a newspaper column from 1888, written by either Earnest Lawrence Thayer or Earnest Thayer Lawrence. TB never gets that straight.

"Take Me Out To The Ballgame" came out 20 years later. Frank Deford, a Princeton alum, wrote a story in 1988 suggesting that Katie Casey was the daughter of Casey from Mudville. TigerBlog didn't know that until he saw it on Wikipedia. He already knew the rest.

He also knows that in the movie "The Naughty Nineties," Dexter Broadhurst (Bud Abbott) sings "Take Me Out The Ballgame" as part of a vaudeville routine, presumably before the song was written. Sebastian Dimwiddle (Lou Costello) interrupts him with questions about the St. Louis lineup, which of course has Who on first, What on second and I Don't Know on third.

TigerBlog would rather watch "Who's On First" or reread "Casey At The Bat" rather than actually watch Major League Baseball right now. It's a little early in the season for it.

Plus, there's so much lacrosse on TV and the web all the time now, who has time for baseball?

It's even too early for TigerBlog to work up a good hate for the Yankees yet. He's on the Phillies bandwagon (it's like rooting for Tom McCarthy), but that train probably isn't going anywhere this year.

If anything, TB will keep early-season tabs on Princeton's four Major Leaguers.

There's Chris Young, making a comeback with the Seattle Mariners. Young pitched two innings in relief, striking out two and not allowing a baserunner in his first appearance.

There's David Hale, who pitched five shutout innings in his first start of the year for the Braves. He got a no-decision, but he's establishing himself as a legitimate Major Leaguer.

There's Will Venable, who is an established Major League with a history of getting off to slow starts and then heating up. He's had 21 at-bats and is hitting just below .200 early on for the Padres, but he will start putting up power and speed numbers relatively quickly.

And there's Ross Ohlendorf, who has yet to pitch this year for Washington Nationals.

Those four are TB's main interest in baseball right now.

And the current Tigers, who host Monmouth today and then play 10 league games in eight days, beginning with four at Columbia this weekend.

It's still the National Pastime, even if lacrosse is closing fast.

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