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Kass: America's Pastime Applies to Markets

NEW YORK (Real Money) --

Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack,
I don't care if I never get back,
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don't win it's a shame.
For it's one, two, three strikes, you're out,
At the old ball game.

-- Jack Norworth, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"

I have learned over my career that history is instructive -- it rarely repeats itself, but it often rhymes.

That said, we must all recognize that the past is not immutable.

Back in the summer of 2007 -- just before all hell was about to break loose -- I penned a column entitled "Take Me Out to the Ball Game for a Sense of History."

Because this week marks the beginning of Major League Baseball's spring training, I wanted to repeat the essence of that column from nearly five years ago, which has some bearing on today's markets.

As a cousin to Sandy Koufax, I grew up immersed in the game of baseball. I watched numerous games with my grandfather, Harry Koufax (Grandma Koufax's husband!) at his home in Mount Vernon, N.Y. I used to watch the peaceful look in Grandpa Koufax's eyes when he sat watching the games in his big cushy chair, cigar in mouth. I have never forgotten that look: He was in baseball heaven. I think I have that same look today when I watch ballgames. It's a look of contentment.

It wasn't only the Koufax connection that drew me to baseball; it was the purity of the game. Baseball is an untimed contest. The home run records, perfect games, the tar on the bats, the spit in the mitts all combined to create an almost genteel tradition among today's sports.

And that song. Take Me Out to the Ball Game is played during the seventh-inning stretch of every Major League Baseball game, with Harry Caray getting the credit for singing it first at a ball game in 1971. Call me sentimental or old-fashioned, but to this day, every time I am at a baseball game and I hear Take Me Out to the Ball Game, I well up in tears.

When I think of the game of baseball, the first thing that comes to my mind is a sense of historical perspective -- a respect for Roger Maris' (non-steroid-aided) record 61 home runs in one season (1961), Hank Aaron's 755 career home runs, Pete Rose's 4,256 hits, Joe DiMaggio's 56 consecutive games with a hit and Nolan Ryan's six no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts.

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