How do you begin a tribute to Yogi Berra? With quotes, of course.
""Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."
"All pitchers are liars or crybabies."
"He hits from both sides of the plate. He's amphibious."
"The lousy teams are good this year."
"It's deja vu all over again"
"It ain't over till it's over"
I could keep going, but you get the point. The most quotable man in baseball passed away today. The game itself is in mourning.
The first time I heard about Yogi Berra, I thought it was funny that there was a baseball player named after Yogi Bear. Shows you how young I am. It's also pretty appropriate. For all the joy he brought with his quips and his play, it's fitting that Berra provided the name to a cartoon bear.
Baseball is a fun game. It's fun to play. It's fun to watch. It's fun to argue over. That fun can get buried sometimes. The weight of statistical arguments can crush the fun out of it. Pennant races can up the tension level so much that angst looms larger than the joy. Chris Carter can get blamed for his strikeouts instead of celebrated for his burninating.
The wonderful thing about Yogi Berra is that he realized that. In his entire life, he always put the joy of baseball first. Every single one of his quotes made baseball a tenth more fun. Every story you heard about him from those 50's Yankees teams could make you laugh. Seeing him joke around with Craig Biggio in the Astros dugout was heartwarming.
Biggio wasn't always a joyous player on the field. He was determined. He was driven. He was...gritty. He did show that Yogi enthusiasm in his work with the Sunshine Kids, bringing a childlike exuberance to these kids suffering through terrible illnesses.
Yogi may not have spent much time as an Astros coach. Blink and you could forget he was in Houston at all. But, he was part of something bigger. He's as integral to the game as hot dogs and double steals. The next time you get mad at an Astros reliever or a bat flip or Cole Hamels rejecting a trade to Houston, think about Yogi.
He made the game fun.