Tuesday’s 10: Reasons Why Baseball Is A Great Game

Baseball season is here. The green of the grass can be smelt upon the air. The sound of radio announcers giving us the play by play is welcome. And the Cardinals are on their way to their 12th championship.

For those of you, who love this game, this is for you. Reasons to love the game you may have instinctively “known” but not really got your head around are spelled out.

And if you don’t like baseball, maybe this will bring understanding.

1. Baseball is slow and incremental. We live in a fast-food, instant-win, lottery-makes-me-instantly-wealthy culture. So many people think the baseball season should be shorter. they want the beginning of the season and the end of the season closer together so they don’t have to suffer through the slog of the middle. But baseball is like life – all the wins and losses, from beginning to end matter but none are immediately devastating.

2. Anyone can win on any given day. In football and to some degree basketball, there is always an expectation of who will win a game. There are exceptions, of course, But normally there is no surprise if the favored team wins and the one expected to lose, does in fact lose. And people may talk about a favored team’s loss to the underdog for a whole season. But no one does this in baseball. I mean, the Mariners and the Astros could win any day.
3. Baseball and Great Writing. Some of the best writers have written on the game. There are volumes dedicated to this phenomenon. Serious poets wax eloquent on double-plays and strikeouts. I’m not entirely sure why but perhaps it’s the rhythm of play, inherent in the game. There is a lot of space and time to think. It’s relaxed. The action is often unseen between the exclamation points.
4. The Rules of the Game. They are clear unlike other sports. In every football game, there is a holding call or pass interference call that could go either way. Even in slow motion, the commentators may disagree. The same is true for basketball…the whole traveling thing is a joke. And was it a charge or a defensive foul? Only slow-mo can tell us. Are there close situation like this baseball? Yes. But they are the exception and not the rule.
5. The Skills of the Tools Required. In every sport you need a number of skills. But in baseball you must know how to swing a bat (unless you’re a pitcher in the wussy American League), catch with a glove, field with a glove, and throw the ball well. None are easy but all are required. Bat, glove, and ball – all tools requiring incredible skill.
6. The Stats. Every part of the game can be measured. And those measurements not only are enjoyed before the game and during the game, they are still used and enjoyed years later. Indeed, the stats are central. No other sport cares about stats more than baseball. The stats are the proof of what a player and team has done and is the basis of what they may be capable of. You could fill a library of books on the stats. Some are all-important and some are simple curiosities of the game giving them color.

7. The Purity of the Stats. Stats are not just central to the game, they set it apart in their purity. But they are part of the problem in other sports. For example, in football a QB can throw a perfect pass and the receiver can drop it and it counts against the QB’s stats. That’s just stupid. I can think of nothing so ridiculous in baseball. In baseball, if you should have caught it or fielded it or thrown is better and didn’t, it’s an error. Simple as that. There may be arguments over the “should have” but the stats tell the story all things being equal. Unlike a dropped pass in football.

8. The Culture. Hot dogs, seventh inning stretch, the star-spangled banner, the first pitch, young boys with gloves in the stands hoping for foul balls. All of these and more are inextricably linked to the game though none are required for it’s being played. If you rid the sport of these, something is lost. They are as much monuments of the game as Ruth, Mays, Aaron and Mantle.

9. The Stories. Some are myth and some are true and they are all part of the game. Maybe it’s the story of just one play, a moment in time suspended in history for all of us to enjoy or despair of. In what other sport can you find a book about one hit? And the stories stretch from the central characters like Ruth, Mays and Boggs to the peripheral minor leaguers, their stadiums and the sandlots where the game grew faster than the weeds surrounding them. Maybe the stories are seem so much a part of the game because we time for announcers to tell them between pitches, maybe because they mirror the history of our country. Maybe it’s that baseball draws in all types of personalities giving us so many stories to tell. Regardless, you cannot read long before you get the feeling there is a desire for any story to be untold.

10. The Cards. Not the Cardinals per se. But the cards…baseball cards. I used to pore over mins for hours and hours, reorganizing them by team, then position, then by stats, and sometimes by value. Baseball cards…is there anything sadder than a football card? Besides a basketball card? Maybe hockey cards.

Random Thoughts for Thursday

1. I daily enter into the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and coffee.

2. Did you even know, the Haiku was part of Zen? I had no idea.

3. After years of affection and intimacy. A diet of spicy food has turned against me.

4. If you were to ask me what the interpretive key to the Universe is, I would probably say “the Trinity.” But my second answer would have to be bacon.

5.  Heard someone say, “When things don’t make sense to others they are contradictions. When they don’t make sense for us they are paradoxes.”

6. If I could write like Merton…

7. I kinda had this picture of sitting on the bleachers and watching Knox play t-ball. But I just realized that since I am now Coach Matt…oh wait, do I get a ball cap and jersey?!

8. The Reds are undefeated and the Red Sox are nothing but. Weird.

9. All the songs you’ve never heard by Van Morrison are better than all the songs you’ve heard by everyone else.

10. They will know we are Christians by the way we forward parodies of those we disagree with.

Friday’s Random Thoughts

1. I may or may not tap my foot when my wife is listening to Taylor Swift.

2. I sent in a request to get a refund for the new Radiohead album. I told them I downloaded the wrong album…I downloaded an electronica album by mistake. I will keep you all up to date on that.

3. I have now read in two different places about bacon-wrapped dates. Both times I picture me going to my wife’s old apartment to pick her up and she’s wrapped in bacon. And then I just wish the kids were staying at my parents.

4. These random thoughts are effortless but get a heck of a lot of hits. Maybe I should stop writing and start thinking.

5. Tired of cool. Want beautiful. Like my daughter.

6. There are not many things more enjoyable than watching a 4-6-3 on a spring day.

7. Since Libya still remains on the UN Human Rights Panel perhaps my dreams of working with Michelle Obama on her nutrition task force are still viable.

8. Ask yourself this, “If the new radiohead were released by a new band without a cult following, would I like it”?

9. Advice to young bloggers: More questions. Less answers. More about what you are learning. Less about what others should learn.

10. So this is the new movement? I wondered what would be next.

Update: Due to some unflattering comments (one which I deleted…Dave, my mom reads this blog) I want to be clear that I’m not entirely cynical on this blog. In this edition of Random Thoughts I affirm the musical stylings of Taylor Swift, my wife, bacon, dates with my wife, my wife wrapped in bacon, random thoughts posts, baseball season, spring and my daughter.


But I am also not Pollyanna about the promises made to young men about movements and what they might produce. I am cynical about these things and would ask you to at least think long and hard about them. 


And be nice on my blog…I’ve never begged anyone to read it. Wait, there was that one time…