October 5, 2010

Why do you love baseball?

Why do you love baseball?

Seriously, have you ever given some real thought to why the game means so much to you? I believe it’s a worthy exercise (see the bottom of this post for directions on how to tell your story) that can be rewarding and revealing .

Take noted columnist George Will for example, who is quoted in Ken Burns’ Baseball Film “The Tenth Inning” as saying “I care about baseball more than ever. It gets worse and worse. My wedding ring, which I designed myself, has the Major League Baseball logo on it. I wanted Mrs. Will to know that in my heart she ranks up there close to baseball. I still subscribe to the theory that there are two, not four, seasons. There’s baseball season and the void, and I hope I never get over this childness.”

We all love baseball for different reasons. I invite you to hear why others (like George Will) love baseball by clicking on this link: Why we love the game.

Perhaps Ken Burns himself puts it best. He was recently interviewed by David Laurila of The Baseball Prospectus. Burns said, “Baseball is the greatest game that has ever been invented. There is nothing like it. In all the other sports you go to your best player all the time. You hand off to O.J. Simpson, or you throw it to Jerry Rice, or you inbound the ball to Michael Jordan. Derek Jeter comes up only once very nine times at bat. David Ortiz comes up only once every nine times at bat. You often have to rely on some little infielder that you just brought up from Triple-A, for your whole season. Think Bucky Dent. Think Kevin Millar drawing a walk in the fourth game of the ALCS in 2004.”

“This is just a spectacular game. I don’t even know why, with these simple yes-no, ugh kind of warfares that take place in other sports that we’re even having to remind ourselves why this game is so perfect. And it teaches us about loss. You fail seven times out of 10, which would be unacceptable in any other sport. You’d be gone, sent packing. As a hitter, if you do that for 15 years, you might go into the Hall of Fame. I know that’s a cliché—failing seven times out of 10—because I get on-base percentage, but that’s the essential draw when you invite people in to understand what this sport means.”

I love baseball for a lot of the same reasons Burns mentioned, but I’ll take it a step further. I love baseball because the most statistically undeserving player on the field can have the biggest moment in a game or a series. I love the craziness that a well hit ball can still be an out and that a miss-hit ball can end up being a bloop single or double.

I love seeing one player match his strength (his legs) against the strength of another (his arm) by going first to third. I love it when an 88 mph fastball can be just effective as one thrown at 98 mph.

Baseball is a world where David Eckstein can be the MVP of a World Series (2006) even though he plays on the same team with Albert Pujols, who is quite possibly the best player in the game today.

More than anything, I love being at the park for a game. I don’t want to see the game through the director’s eyes, who is going to show me the game from behind the pitcher as he looks at the hitter and catcher most of the time.

I want to see the whole field, take in the whole experience of being at the ball park. I want the fun of high fiving strangers simply because you are sharing in the joy of seeing a great play on the field. I want to eat peanuts and throw the shells on the ground. I want to be a part of the wave of boos when Alex Rodriguez steps to the plate. I just want to soak it all in.

Baseball is about memories; it’s about stories and conversations and so much more.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me, in your own words in a paragraph or two why you love the game. Email me at truegrich AT yahoo DOT com. I want to hear why you love baseball. I’m serious. Let’s share the reasons why this game is great with others. Tell me your story and include your name and location. I will compile the thoughts in an upcoming blog as a sequel to this one. I can’t guarantee that I will use every story, but I will use many of them I’m sure. Send me your thoughts by Oct. 10, 2010. (Update: I'm still taking stories from anyone who wants to submit one)

As a side note; if you love baseball you owe it to yourself to watch Ken Burns’ “The Tenth Inning” on PBS. PBS will be doing an encore presentation on November 8 & 15, 2010.

Here’s a preview:


  1. Why I love baseball:
    1) No clock. It really isn't over until it's over. In the NFL they high five each other as the clock winds down.

    2) Bottom of the ninth, down by one with one on, 2 strikes. One swing. Home run, game over and you win; strike 3, game over and you lose.

    3) If baseball is in season there is no snow on the ground.

    4) Even non-baseball fans look forward to spring training.

  2. I'm past middle age in life. When I grew up baseball was all we did in the summer. We played Little League, but that was only a small part of our baseball experience. From sunrise to sunset we played in backyards. 3 against 3, 4 against 4, etc.. we'd change the rules to make up for the lack of players. The games were open and anybody passing by could join. We collected and traded baseball cards for the fun of having our favorite players. With the exception of the Game of the Week on television, baseball was enjoyed on the radio. Most nights during the summer I would fall asleep listening to the Kansas City A's game. Baseball was a way to bond with family. Everyone in my family; grandparents, parents, aunts/uncles all followed the game and would talk endlessly about it. My father and I had very little in common but until the day he died we could talk baseball together.

    Times have changed, but I'm not one of those old-school guys that longs for the good old days. Kids don't play baseball from in the backyard from dawn to dusk anymore. Youth baseball has transformed from a community program to one that is only open to elite players with the money to afford expensive equipment. Investors now drive the baseball card market and collection is done for profit not fun. Television has replaced radio as the primary medium for fans to follow the game. But I still love the game as much as always. Having almost every game on television is a dream come true for me! I still collect baseball cards for fun, and the game is still a part of my family. During the season I receive a text messages almost daily from my adult son commenting on the game he is watching. I live in a minor league town and attend 50+ AAA games each summer. Each time I go I am reminded that, no matter how much baseball has changed, from the time the National Anthem ends until the last out is made, baseball has changed at all and is still the greatest game in the world!