Alex Massie

Department of Sports Journalism

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If Furman Bisher (great name!) is typical of the sports staff at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution then, you know, newspapers probably do deserve to die.

Baseball used to be a game played with nine men to a side, two managers, four umpires, and the major-league season always opened in Cincinnati. Come to think of it now, that would be sort of like “Gone With the Wind” opening in Valdosta. But Cincinnati had a deal, see.

The first “major league” baseball game was played in Cincinnati on June 1, 1869. The locals, the Red Stockings, eked out a 48-14 victory over Mansfield, whoever Mansfield was. So, several years ago — even the league office isn’t sure when — it became a custom that every major-league season opened in Cincinnati. Nobody played before the Red Stockings, now shortened to Reds. It was just that way. That’s how baseball is, very long on tradition. It just gets into a habit it likes and stays there.

Well, not any longer. Money can change any habit. Eight springs ago the Mets and Cubs opened the season, not in Cincinnati. Guess where? Tokyo. That Tokyo, the guys who gave us Pearl Harbor. Some people don’t like you to bring that up, trade with Japan is so hot. But I’ve got a long memory. I saw what a few bombs can do to our property.

I've said it before but it bears saying again: 90% of the best sports-writing in America never appears in a newspaper.

[Hat-tip: the lads at Fire Joe Morgan.]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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