SAN JOSE, COSTA RICA – Plenty of praise and accolades for athletes are bandied about in the world of team sports but where would any these players or games, for that matter, be without the lowly ball? Yes, we can appreciate the shuttlecock of badminton and sure, hockey has its vaunted puck. Archery has its deadly arrow and football the odd ellipsoid but no other geometric shape could deliver the goods like an old-fashioned sphere. A rhombus would not make a nifty slider. A squared cube could not fit through the hoop. A triangular pyramid will never be headed into a goal or bowled down an alley. Let us then tip our collective caps to the balls of the world.
A particularly cathartic moment in ball appreciation (or lack thereof) took place Friday June 12, 2009 late in the evening at new Yankee Stadium aka Billy Crystalâ€™s Whore Emporium. With the Amazins poised to take the first game of the Subway Series, Mets second baseman Luis castillo dropped an Alex Rodriquez sure out pop fly in shallow right that allowed 2 runs to score giving the Yankees the game. That was a bigger ball drop than anything you could get on any New Years Eve in Times Square. Dropped the ball. Dropped balls. Neither description is pleasant unless weâ€™re talking puberty. In our research for todayâ€™s post, we came across Hall of Fame outfielder and oft-maligned Yankee, Dave Winfieldâ€™s new book called Dropping the Ball. What a find. Now we could simply scan the book for fabulous quotes to highlight our piece. How we were disappointed to read it was just another â€œbaseballâ€™s in troubleâ€ tome when we expected a modern, â€œWhatâ€™s Happening to Me?â€ or at least a collection of Baseball Bloopers and Blunders.
Balls do come in all different sizes. Golf arguably has the smallest balls but what sport has the biggest balls? The soccer ball is one big ball for sure and likewise itâ€™s cousin the volleyball. Anyone who has ever stuck his or her fingers in a bowling ball knows thatâ€™s a good-sized ball too. The basketballâ€™s girth takes all of them handily however, but might we have considered the medicine ball? Thatâ€™s one heck of a big ball, almost too big to handle. And would a sport that used more than one ball be allowed to have collectively added the mass of itsâ€™ balls together to claim the biggest ball(s) in sport? Billiards uses multiple balls as do bocce and croquet. Mr. Metâ€™s head is a personal favorite for an oversized single ball and Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell is our favorite single ball player.
Curiously some of these balls are compound words and others are stand-alone. Whatâ€™s up with that? Why couldnâ€™t it be the base ball or the soccerball? Some balls, we guess, were meant to stay close to their games and others are more independent. This is a sticky question and perhaps should now be left alone. A shout out to tennis for perhaps the fastest balls and women who hit those balls as hard as most men do.
Finally, props must be given to the greatest NON-sport mention of balls and some serious double entendres that make our work here today kids’ stuff. That would be Big Balls, the classic from AC/DCâ€™s 3rd album Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
On a completely unrelated side note: The Mets have just drastically reduced ticket prices. While on the surface the price cut may seem altruistic, what the Mets are really telling us is: we blew it with our overpriced seating from the get go AND we are offering you a seriously inferior product. It is not only an inferior product but a tainted one as well. The white flag is out. The towel has been tossed. Are we off base?