COOPERSTOWN, New York -- While I was standing under the overhang of a souvenir tent trying to stay dry during one of the drenching downpours that hit upstate New York this afternoon and cancelled what's supposed to be the final Hall of Fame Game, I heard one of the T-shirt vendors say, "The baseball gods are angry", apparently referring to MLB's decision to cancel the game after this season.
And if that's true, there never will be a "final" Hall of Fame Game, although it wouldn't surprise me to see them try it again next year just so they can say they had one last game. It won't involve the Cubs, of course, and I was thinking of coming to Cooperstown to see the Hall of Fame anyway after the Toronto series (I'm going to go tomorrow morning, after meeting some friends who also made the trip here for dinner tonight), so it wasn't completely a waste of time to come. In fact, despite the heavy rain, wind and hail, there was some fun to be had this afternoon, as you'll see in the photos below.
About the game itself: as I hinted in the game thread this morning, if you think doing something like this is a waste of time, I think you're wrong. Yes, Cooperstown isn't where baseball was "invented" -- and if they really wanted to honor a place where something resembling modern baseball legitimately got started, the Hall of Fame should be in Hoboken, New Jersey, where a game with codified rules was played on June 19, 1846.
But it's not there and not going there. Despite the non-origins of baseball at Cooperstown, it is undeniably true that the rise of baseball's popularity in this country was in large part because of all the small-town teams that rose up in the last part of the 19th Century and the first part of the 20th. To ignore that heritage is denying and destroying our history, which, unfortunately, is something that we do far too often in this strip-malled, big-boxed nation. There's an old saw that asks, "What's the difference between England and America?" To which the response is, "In England they think 100 miles is a long way, and in America they think 100 years is a long time." That's undeniably true. Playing this game is, inconvenience aside, a nod to our history. A group called Save The Fame Game would like to see the game saved, perhaps by making it a regular season game, rotated among the teams so that they lose one home game every 30 years, and the logistics could be worked out to make it easier. They marched during the pre-game parade:
That's one of the fun things about this game, and the sun was shining while the following, among others, passed down Main Street in Cooperstown, past the Hall of Fame on their way to Doubleday Field, before everyone went into the park for the eventual rainout:
After that, most of us went into Doubleday Field -- slowly, because there are only a couple of entrances -- and there were several PA announcements updating the weather, at one point asking everyone to leave because of severe weather in the area, including hail (which got to about large pebble size). They did manage to play the national anthem, do a tribute to the late NBC newsman Tim Russert, and have Greg Maddux present a ball from his 350th win to the Hall of Fame, before they finally called it about 2:30 pm.
Finally, I did get a chance to meet Martin Gandy, who runs the SBN Atlanta Braves blog Talking Chop, who was in town to see this game as part of what he said was a driving trip up and down the East Coast to see baseball.
Which is part of what baseball is all about: seeing friends, enjoying good times, and places you wouldn't otherwise see.
Tomorrow, back to the business of winning.