My girlfriend has competition. It's called the MLB Network.
I'm only 23 years old and because of that I've missed a lot of amazing baseball. I've tried my hardest to learn as much as I can about baseball's past through long and meandering searches through baseball-reference, Ken Burns' Baseball, YouTube, Baseball Think Factory and the other amazing references available to me in this day and age, but nothing can replace watching something in its entirety and experiencing it with your own eyes and ears.
Today I watched Mickey Mantle hit a home run in the context of an entire baseball game.
It was absolutely one of the most electrifying moments of my life.
The MLB Network's kinescope broadcast of Don Larsen's 1956 World Series perfect game signifies a significant moment in the lives of many young baseball men like me. Sure, I've seen games from the late '60s and the '70s, but these games showed the stars of yesteryear in their twilight or on the gradual decline to retirement.
But tonight, I saw Hall of Famers in their prime take their hacks just like I watch Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez take theirs. I learned that Sal Maglie pitched damn, damn well that day in 1956 and that players took huge pride in their defense, something the record books had never been able to convey to me.
I learned that baseball, no matter how much I may hate the economics behind it, has not changed one bit. It is still nine guys going out on the world's most perfectly designed playing field playing the world's most beautiful, intricate game.
It truly is timeless, transcending decades and depressions.
I do not know if MLB Networks will continue to showcase classic footage. But for a $10 upgrade to the premium cable package, I watched something in 2009 that my father hasn't been able to watch in his 50 years as a baseball fan. That alone makes it worth every penny.
I look forward to Harold Reynolds, Al Leiter, and Barry Larkin's insight into baseball from a player's perspective. While I enjoy John Kruk and Karl Ravich, I hope MLB Network never invites someone like Steve Phillips into their midst.
Right now, this channel is showcasing baseball in the way it should be.
Here's to a great 2009 and all the baseball that comes with it.