Before last Saturday, the last time I watched a baseball game at the Tracy High School field it was from behind home plate, looking through the bars of a catcher's mask - a real catcher's mask, not one of these new, silly goalie masks they wear now.
I don't know exactly when catchers - either in high school, college or the pros - started dressing like goalies, but somewhere along the line, probably about the time they stopped calling catchers backstops, someone must have got confused and mistakenly combined a hockey mask with a catcher's mask to produce this scientifically deformed face protector. Thank God for Joe Mauer, who opts to keep it old school by wearing the traditional mask.
Seeing these high school catchers donning the new masks-slash-helmets at last weekend's baseball games - and hearing Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" blaring on the speakers between innings as a diversion to the junk our latest hip-hop entertainers have to offer - made me think about how everything that was once good, once sacred, has been lost on today's generation.
People in their teens and 20s do have it good. Compared to older generations, they have a daring new technological world literally at their fingertips. They have iPods. We had Walkmans. They have Xboxes and Prince of Persia. We had Atari and Pong. And there are other things today's youth can rightfully claim are better than their predecessors. "Star Search" doesn't compare with "American Idol" when it comes to sending promising entertainers into stardom, and the "Bourne Identity" made a better movie than book.
But the kids and young adults who walk around with their pants halfway down their backside and with their noses buried in a cell phone as they send off that urgent message to their peeps about plans for the weekend really don't know what they missed by not growing up in the '80s.
Some things have stood the test of time and have bridged the generation gap. Coke and Pepsi are still duking it out, both trying to come up with new ways to beat the other when all they should be doing is just keeping it simple with their original formulas of success. The original "Star Wars" - the original originalnot the new original, the old original - can captivate a 9-year-old boy in 2010 as much as it did a 9-year-old boy in 1977, as can classics like "E.T." and "The Wizard of Oz."
"So there were movies before Pixar?" Yes, Timmy, there sure was.
Things have changed for sure, but by and large, no matter how spoiled older generations might think today's youth are, we had it pretty good decades ago.
To wit: We had MacGyver. They have MacGruber.
We had Paula Abdul, the Laker girl. They have Paula Abdul, the judge.
We had Lakers vs. Celtics. They have Kobe vs. Celtics.
We both had Michael Jackson, only we got him when his nose was real.
We had music on MTV. They get "Jersey Shore."
We told people - and we were sincere about it - that they were our best friends, not our BFFs.
We had a killer shark in 3-D. They're stuck with an animated ogre in 3-D.
We had Prince. They have "The Artist."
We had Reagan and Reganomics. They had Bush and strategery.
We had Katrina and the Waves. They had the waves because of Katrina.
In the '80s, the Titanic was discovered. Today, it's just an overrated flick.
We had John Schneider and Tom Wopat. They have Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott.
We had Rooney and Brokaw. They have O'Reilly and Beck.
And today's generation will never have the chance to get pulled into the world of Guiding Light. Shame.
And just so you know, it was Judd Nelson who made "Eat My Shorts" popular, not the Simpson kid.