“You know, this baseball game of ours comes up from the youth. That means the boys. And after you're a boy and grow up to play ball, then you come to the boys you see representing clubs today in your national pastime. The only real game in the world, I think, is baseball. As a rule, people think that if you give boys a football or a baseball or something like that, they naturally become athletes right away. But you can't do that in baseball. You got to start from way down, at the bottom, when the boys are six or seven years of age. You can't wait until they're 14 or 15. You got to let it grow up with you, if you're the boy. And if you try hard enough, you're bound to come out on top.”—Babe Ruth, address on “Babe Ruth Day” at Yankee Stadium, April 27, 1947, quoted in Robert W. Creamer, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life (1974)
This time of year is useful for remembering the basics when it comes to sports, and who better to remind us than the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth?
Forget about the 300-plus-pound mastodons that are already colliding with each other on the gridiron, increasingly leaving in their wake injuries that may leave them unable to walk or to remember a thing in a decade or so. And for my money, you can forget about basketball, or soccer, or ice hockey, or anything else you care to come up with.
The last extraordinary week—even the last 24 hours—and the playoffs about to occur should be enough to remind us that, for all its problems, baseball may take its sweet time unfolding, but when it finally comes to its third act, it leaves you laughing, crying, shaking your head, gasping over it all. More people than I’d like to think of have tried to defile the game, but its intricacies and, yes, beauty have survived the worst thrown at it. It is, as The Babe said, the only real game in the world.