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April 03, 1992 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-04-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

CLOSE-UP

When Baseball Cures
The Blues

PHIL JACOBS

Managing Editor

I

t's a sickness that af-
fects rising numbers
of the population.
Yet no national
studies have been
started, and Detroit's
Jewish Family Service has
yet to gather an encounter
group.
It's a sickness known as
BSAD or Baseball Season
Affective Disorder. It
happens some 15 to 30
minutes after the third out
of the last game of the
World Series.
Its more obvious symp-
toms include a listlessness
while pushing the TV
remote control button, a
loss of appetite for hot dogs,
and the need to find an im-
portant sports-related
statistic about something,
anything. Some sufferers
try substitute substances
such as football, basketball
or even ice hockey. Mere
methadone for the heroin
addict.
But even the news of a
Pistons' win or a sunny
Saturday at Michigan
Stadium becomes second
fiddle to sports clips from
the hot-stove league
(baseball lingo for people
who get together during
the winter to discuss trades
or acquisitions).
Then comes the count-
down. You've gotten
through November and
December. You've toasted
the new year in January,
and then in mid-February
pitchers and catchers
report to Florida. Real life
can't be too far away. The

26 FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 1992

With opening day upon us,
it's time to forget the gray winter
and look forward to the
national pastime and everything
it represents.

sun peeks through the
clouds while you shovel out
your driveway. Soon, you
can take solace in knowing
that your local high school
baseball field, hardpacked
with mud and yellow, dead
grass — more a ghost town
than a sports field — will
be alive with activity.
Suddenly, before yo\i've
rented Field of Dreams for
the 14th time this winter,
the Tigers and everyone
else are playing baseball. It
doesn't count when it's in
Florida; it's an exhibition.
But between you and the
baseball gods, it's all real
again. Because as each day
passes, 1:05 p.m. Monday,
April 6, gets closer. That's
when the first pitch will be
thrown from the mound in
Tiger Stadium. And even
though you and your
friends will be hovering
under a blanket, gargling
hot chocolate, even though
the Tiger Stadium grass
has been painted green,
and even though there are
1,000 different things you
should be doing instead,
this is where you belong.

"There's an exhilaration
to starting all over again,"
said Hillel Day School ex-
ecutive director Robert
Steinberg, who has been to
the last 25 Tiger openers.
"When the World Series is
over, it's a drought. And
here we are getting ready
for another opening day. It
will be freezing outside,

"More than any
other sport,
baseball is a
country. You're not
so much a
spectator but a
citizen of
baseball."
from Doc Ellis and the
Country of Baseball

but I'll be exhilarated. It's
like celebrating an an-
niversary."
Irwin Cohen, who works
in the Tigers' sales office,
said that opening day for
baseball is different than
for other sports. He pointed
to the symbolism of going
from cold, gray weather to

bright sunny days in an
outdoor stadium.
"It changes us," he said.
"I work, in the most
depressed area in Detroit
on a daily basis. I can't
walk outside without a
panhandler asking me for
money. But once the season
starts, the area transforms,
it comes to life. It's the only
area of Detroit that comes
to life in this way, and I get
a good feeling just seeing
people smile. You react off
of others; it makes you feel
good.
"It's like Purim, the
same kind of feeling, be-
cause everything that
happens in Tiger Stadium
will be recorded for history
forever. Opening day is
the beginning of a really
magical time. You've
waited since last October,
you've had your own per-
sonal countdown, and now
the season is here."
Mr. Cohen said he knows
the season is really here
when the grounds crew
starts shoveling the snow
off the tarpaulin. Also, it is
true that the Tigers have

their field painted green
for opening day.
Southfield clinical psy-
chologist Dr. Jeffrey Last,
himself a baseball fan and
organizer of the Young
Israel Baseball League,
said baseball holds a cer-
tain innocence not found in
the other sports.
"It captures a sense of
ideal in us all," he said. "In
a way it's something that is
pure. I know that when we
were growing up, nobody
knew that baseball players
had private lives — they
existed only on the field.
"And," he continued,
"when we played as kids,
we weren't just playing a
game; we were on the grass
in Tiger Stadium or
Yankee Stadium. You
could create your own
ideal. You could psycho-
logically merge with your
heroes. Baseball was some-
thing manageable. You
knew the rules; you
knew how you'd succeed,
how you failed. You got a
baseball mitt; you practic-
ed and focused and that
was it.
"When you grow up, your
life becomes more com-
plicated, and you long to
recapture that feeling you
had as a kid. Baseball is
one way to do that."
Detroit attorney Alex
Bensky borrows a line .from
the baseball book, Doc Ellis
and the Country of Baseball,
when describing his passion
for the sport.
"More than any other
sport, baseball is a coun-
try," he said. "You're not
so much a spectator but a
citizen of baseball."
Mr. Bensky doesn't suffer

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