The Wisdom of the Wizard

JUPITER, Fla. — For the first time in 16 years, Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith returned to the fields of Roger Dean Stadium in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform, and it took him less than four hours and all of seven words to capture what keeps so many of us coming back year after year after year to spring training and the game that captivates us.

He took a deep sniff and told a few of us, “It is nice breathing good baseball air.”

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Filling in for Ozzie Smith at Shortstop: Oliver Hardy

TOWER GROVE — In 1994, late in the last stand of 16-bit consoles, a Super Nintendo baseball game gained the endorsement of All-Star center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. and approval of Major League Baseball, but it could not land the licensing rights from the Major League Baseball Players Association and could not use real games.

For that, we are forever grateful.

A lack of authentic names forced a stroke of genius.

“Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball” brought some of the most creative lineups ever to gamers. Oh, if only they were real! Unable to have Cal Ripken Jr. as the starting shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles, Junior’s game instead had Baltimore native (and colorful film director) John Waters playing shortstop. The Colorado Rockies were loaded with famous movie monster actors, putting, as the game says, B. Legosi in center field and L. Chaney at first. Griffey is playing center for the Seattle Mariners — hey, he endorsed the game — but instead of Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Tin Martinez around him in the lineup are the names of Nintendo employees. The Kansas City Royals are former presidents. The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers are punk bands from those areas, putting the city’s Joey Ramone against the coast’s Lux Interior. The Oakland Athletics have a lineup of authors such as M. Twain, L. Tolstoy and, filling in at first base fore Mark McGwire, is a bearded chap named Continue reading