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: