Tag Archives: jim biery

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The Boys of Summer Have Made It

By Jim Biery

Finally, summer has arrived after a spring that felt more like fall or winter. Now that I have referenced all the seasons in just one sentence, let’s talk baseball.

America’s pastime has begun it’s rather lengthy 162-game season. That is a 26-week long season, and then the playoffs begin. I feel like that borders on the “too much of a good thing” theory. Major League Baseball (MLB) is the only major sports league that starts and ends in the same calendar year. (FYI: That nugget of knowledge could win a trivia contest question for you.

Standing in the warm sun on top of perfectly manicured grass and a nice breeze carrying the sounds of all the people in the stand – now that is what I call a friendly office environment! But this is far from what most of us recognize as an office setting. This is what the lucky few get to enjoy when they get the call up from the minor leagues to the “big show.”

Like a lot of kids, I grew up playing baseball, starting with tee ball, where a handful of kids on each team were more concerned with building dirt piles in the infield or looking for ladybugs in the outfield, to Little League, where my interest began to drop off. The reason for this is the same reason I struggle with following and watching the MLB on a consistent basis: not enough activity.

If you have watched a MLB game at any point, you should notice one thing. Basically, everyone playing the game is standing around. In between pitches the only thing that happens is grown men either spitting tobacco or “adjusting” things in their uniform. Now, what a grown man does is his own business. However, when these grown men make an average of over $4 million a year, I’d like a better return for my investment to watch the game.

In 2017, Forbes magazine reported that season attendance for MLB dipped below 73 million for the first time since 2002. In my opinion, the reason is partly the game’s fault but also because of the rapidly changing landscape of technology.

Keep in mind that when baseball was in its heyday, there was no other way to see the game than to actually attend it. Now with the ability to stream darn near anything, a lot of people are choosing this easy option instead of fighting traffic, hot and steamy weather and the bad luck of having a seat right next to a crying kid who wants more ice cream even though they have dropped the first two offerings.

Technology aside, the game itself just does not have enough going on to keep people’s attention. Be honest with me. Does watching players basically standing around in between pitches offer what basketball, football or even soccer visually provide? MLB has tried to even put a so-called “pitch clock” in the game to prevent pitchers from taking up to a minute or two between pitches.

Outside of the occasional home run or stolen base, the only real action comes when a pitcher hits a batter with his pitch and both benches clear. What’s funny is that the pitchers in the bullpen located over the fence in the outfield actually run all the way to the location of the scuffle. It is laugh-out-loud funny to me. They have to extend the dance between opposing teams until they get there. Then, they don’t really do a darn thing!


“WOULDN’T YOU LIKE A JOB THAT YOU COULD ONLY SHOW UP ABOUT 32 PERCENT OF THE TIME AND GET FULL COMPENSATION?”


The fight itself is also a bit of a letdown. Most of the scuffles just look like a ball of bait fish being chased into a circle by a tuna. It’s just a bunch of grown men holding each other back but not much else going on. If you actually look close enough, you can see two players that look like they’re grabbing each other, but in reality they are just exchanging their wives’ favorite lasagna recipe. (I may or may not have made that last part up.)

Another aspect that is hard to swallow is the amount of money the players are getting paid, especially the pitchers. Keep something in mind as I continue rant: Pitchers typically only pitch one in every five games. That’s about 32 games out of the scheduled 162. Seriously, wouldn’t you like a job that you could only show up about 32 percent of the time and get full compensation?

The compensation itself is ridiculous. Zach Greinke, a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, is scheduled to make $34 million in 2018 alone. He got an $18 million signing bonus and $206 million of the contract is guaranteed. I understand the phrase “what the market can bear” when it comes too negotiating these contracts, but for crying out loud!

Go to a baseball game. Or don’t. It’s your time and your money to waste (or not). Just know I won’t be joining you…except when I get a hankering for baseball park hot dogs, tire of checking my phone for scores or need something to rant about.

Little Man in a Big Sports World Columnist Jim Biery.

Sports: The Mirror of Life

Little Man in a Big Sports World Columnist Jim Biery.

Little Man in a Big Sports World Columnist Jim Biery.

By Jim Biery

If you’re a sports fan already, you will completely

understand what I’m about to write. If you know

nothing about sports, please read on and maybe

I can explain why grown men wear other grown

men’s uniforms and jerseys during the big game.

I will admit that I don’t understand why wearing

your favorite player’s jersey with your last name

somehow gets you closer to the team and the

player you are cheering for. You may be a successful

business man, a well-respected lawyer, even a

project manager for a construction company. (That

being said has anyone seen an athlete showing

up at your office wearing a doctor’s uniform or

a hard hat? Point is, you should be proud and

confident of your last name and your abilities

in your chosen field and maybe realize that you

possess special talents that the best quarterback

or basketball superstar does not.)

Enough of the fashion part of this column.

What drives men and women to paint their

faces, wear lucky team sweatshirts and holler

profanities at a TV screen in hopes the referee

can hear them disagreeing with the holding call?

Sports offer a temporary escape from life’s

daily grind and ups and downs. It’s that simple.

For a couple of hours, you join other sports fans

watching and waiting for that one play, that one

shot that brings you to your feet, jumping and

cheering loudly. During this timeframe, people

are united for one cause: a team victory.

Regardless of your age, size, gender, religious

affiliation, and political views – nothing

else matters.

Many become one for a single cause.

Imagine if we could adopt this team mindset

and apply it to all the worthy causes and rallies

that lead off every newsfeed you watch nowadays.

(That’s enough of that also. If there is any

conversation I look to avoid, it would include

religion and politics.)

Another aspect of sports that is so special is that

nothing can be scripted. There are no re-runs,

and you can never know what the outcome will

be. Sometimes, it seems like everything else we

watch is predictable or repeated. Reality shows

basically follow the same script every year: Throw

strangers together in a somewhat cramped space,

add alcohol and Rednecks or steroid-loving males

with a few fiery females with daddy issues or “I’m

a Princess” mindset, and “suddenly” you have

every season of every reality show that has been

produced in the past 10 years.

Sporting events have the ability to take

you back to a certain place in time and the exact

location you witnessed something so special that

the stories of that event and that one unbelievable

play or catch comes up in conversations not only

between friends but has the ability to connect

generations.

For instance, on Feb. 3, 2008, I was at a lifelong

friend’s house watching my beloved New York

football Giants play the New England Patriots

in the Super Bowl. Late in the fourth quarter,

Eli Manning pulled off an escape from what

looked like a certain sack to throw a completion

to David Tyree, a little-known wide receiver from

Syracuse University.

That famous catch is considered by many to

be the greatest play in Super Bowl history. It was

one moment in time that I was lucky enough not

only to see live but also to experience with many

special friends. That reception lead to a miracle

victory over the previously undefeated Patriots,

who were looking to create history as being the

first team ever to go 19-0.

I’m not trying to change anyone’s view on

whether they like sports or not. Trust me, if any

of you readers would like to discuss cooking

techniques, gardening tips, or whether or not

you have ever spotted an Eastern Towhee (that’s

a bird, by the way), I am your man.

What I hope you take away from this column is

that what really matters in life – and sports – are

the moments you can’t script or even explain.

Those are the moments that you can recall and

lead to a shake of your head at how it happened or

maybe even a tear in your eye when you remember

where you were and who you were with.

Experiences like those are why I love sports

so much and appreciate the ongoing unwritten

drama that only a live sporting event can provide.

So, if want to spend your afternoons watching

“Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” I can’t stop

you. However, (spoiler alert ahead), I can tell you

the next episode will feature characters with low

self-esteem and high bank accounts who are willing

to convince you that their life is better than yours.

(Spoiler alert: Don’t believe them.)