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PostHeaderIcon Baseball and the American Tradition: Day 1

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Former Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti was a key figure of Day 1 in Baseball and the American Tradition. (Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com)

Former Commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti was a key figure of Day 1 in Baseball and the American Tradition. (Photo Courtesy of ESPN.com)

For anyone who has followed the site faithfully from it’s humble beginnings in 2009, you know that I am a baseball lover, forever a student of the game, with a healthy respect – but often times opinion – on where we’re going, where we’ve been and where we are now.

As the years have progressed, I have shifted many of my articles from being just about the Phillies to being about baseball in general. I am fascinated with the history of the game. I am skeptical of the future, at least until I see it work for the good of baseball, which so far has worked well. And the present, simply being able to watch a game is perfection.

So when this student of the game, working every day to find a career in the sports field, learned of a college course that would allow me to learn about baseball in every form, I was instantly hooked.

That class began on Wednesday, and I’m posting about it here because I can’t help but share my experiences and learnings with everyone who reads the site. My hope is that whatever I can share with you will help you gain a greater understanding for the game of baseball the way I have come to know and love the game while keeping myself open to always learning more.

Don’t be deceived by the name of the course. This is Baseball and the American Tradition. It is not simply a history class on the game of baseball but a learning experience about every aspect of the history of the game and how it relates to America. It’s a class about racial equality, gender equality, business, psychology, philosophy, art, film and so much more.

So Day 1 was meant to be nothing more than an introduction to the course, how students will dissect every aspect of the course throughout the semester. But in doing so, the message was also that there are so many aspects to get to in the coming weeks.

For two hours, the class met and simply discussed what makes baseball so great. It could be for the reason that there is no clock, no time limit to do anything. It is the time between pitches and how in clutch situations, there is so much to process in so little time and the possibilities of what could happen are endless.

The beauty of the game was another talking point. It surrounds the game in a way that no other sport has. Because there is so much time to break everything down and think about the possibilities. And both sides of the ball have its beauty. Is there a more exciting offensive play than a triple or inside-the-park home run? Is there anything more beautifully executed than a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play?

An introduction to baseball would not be complete without also mentioning the negatives – or at least major discussion points – that will come into play like the business (free agency) of baseball or the steroid era. Among the first questions pitched: should Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame?

Personally, I believe Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame for the reason that the game has since evolved since his offense to the integrity of the game. Truth be told, he violated the integrity of the game, especially under the view of a purist that A. Bartlett Giamatti was. But nevertheless, when viewed in the eyes of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez, Rose didn’t do anything that would make his numbers and performance artificial.

That being said there has yet to be an exception to such a ruling that would warrant Rose’s induction. You don’t see “Shoeless” Joe Jackson in the Hall of Fame because people can forgive a violation of the rules of baseball from nearly a century ago. That’s a topic for another day.

Speaking of A. Bartlett Giamatti, former Commissioner of Major League Baseball, there was not a better way to introduce the topic than to play Giamatti’s essay “Green Fields of the Mind.” It is the epitome of what defines true baseball fans and the feelings we have all the way through an entire season. Audio of Giamatti reading the essay is below for those who want to hear it.

That’s all for now, but check back every Thursday morning. I’ll share my thoughts and learnings from the class each week it is in session.

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Kevin Durso is a writer for Phillies Network. In addition to his work on Phillies Network, Kevin writes for Philliedelphia, Flyerdelphia and Eagledelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet. Also check out Phillies Network's page on Facebook or @PhilliesNetwork on twitter for new posts and updates.

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