21 cure-alls for baseball withdrawal

August 15, 1994|By JOHN EISENBERG

I know, you don't have to tell me. You had tickets for a game at Camden Yards over the weekend. At the time when you would have left for the ballpark, your foot started twitching.

"Ah, foot," you said sadly, "Joltin' Joe has left and gone away."

"Very original," your foot replied.

I know, you don't have to tell me. It's four days now, and you're starting to go a little nuts. You're missing baseball. The strike is starting to get to you.

Well, fehr not.

There are all sorts of ways to scratch your itch. All sorts of ways to keep baseball in your life while the players and owners sit around arguing about how to cut up your money. Twenty-one suggestions:

* Find a Rotisserie League geek and ask for an evaluation of which players were the best bargains this year. (Be forewarned, this could result in more baseball than you want. Say, no less than four hours.)

* Close your eyes and recall the baseball days of your youth. The innocence. The simplicity. The coach who yelled, "If you forget to cover second base one more time, I'm gonna rip your ears off, you little creep!"

* Try to do anything 2,130 straight times. Such as brush your teeth without dribbling any toothpaste onto the side of the sink.

* Read a baseball book. There are 473 new ones out every year, most of them beginning, "Lo, the heroic Everymen raced in concert to their positions on the verdant diamond that resembled a poem in the shimmering sunset, and we felt warm inside because we were alive again." You're on your own.

* Attend a minor-league game. Try to go on "Farm and Ranch Night," when the players milk cows.

* Turn on the television. Peter Angelos will be there, explaining again that the owners need to open their books.

* Keep studying the standings every day. Be amazed at the Orioles' ability to remain exactly 6 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

* Play a baseball game on a computer. I did this yesterday. Frighteningly, it was kind of fun. The 1927 Yankees played the 1970 Orioles in a best-of-seven series. The Yankees won in seven. Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Elrod Hendricks each hit two homers. You fill in the punch line.

* Do something really crazy and try to figure out which teams are small-market teams and which are large-market teams.

* Go shopping for a Lamborghini, just like a real major-leaguer.

* Go to a baseball movie. There are two dozen in the theaters right now, most involving a small boy who falls out of a tree, hits his head, begins throwing 120-mph fastballs and leads a hapless team to the World Series. Jack Warden is always the gruff manager with a heart of gold.

* Start counting down the days until the beginning of the Winter League seasons. I'm picking Santurce this year, you?

* Rent a historical baseball video from your video store. There are many from which to choose. Most have a "Golden Age" theme, so bring a hanky. Most also have Brent Musburger narrating, so bring ear plugs.

* Go to the batting cage. Get brushed back. Charge the pitching machine.

* Call a lawyer who bills out at $200 an hour. Ask him to explain why those greedy ballplayers aren't worth what they're paid.

* Buy a pack of baseball cards. Show them to any 12-year-old. Be amazed as he tells you exactly how much each one costs. Be even more amazed as he tries to fleece you out of two or three.

* Find a place in your daily routine to insert some infield chatter. For instance, instead of saying "hello" when you answer the phone, say "hey batta batta swing!" As a bonus, it might scare off the five telemarketers who call every night selling credit cards.

* Get up off the couch, dust the crumbs off your shirt, go outside and actually try to play yourself, you sluggard. No, you can just leave your remote control inside.

* Search "The Baseball Encyclopedia" for fascinating tidbits such as the birthplace of Todd Frohwirth, Jeff Stone's lifetime batting average or any players with your last name. (The closest to me, I learned yesterday, is Jake Eisenhart, a pitcher whose career consisted of one-third of an inning in 1944. Walked one.)

* Order information from a school for umpires. While you wait for it to come, stand in front of a mirror and work on your steeeee-rike call. Very satisfying.

* Join the poor moaning souls standing around outside Camden Yards. Pretend you have a life. Wear a disguise in case your boss drives by.

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