On this 4th of July weekend when America celebrates it’s independence, I thought I would celebrate what has been termed “America’s game”– Baseball. What distinguishes baseball from every other major professional sport is that every American at some point in their life has or will attend or even played a baseball game. It could be a MLB game or a minor league game or even a little league game. Whether your Dad, Grandpa big brother or Uncle took you as child or you go with a client for business purposes or just attend with your buddies as an American you will see a baseball game some point in your life if you live in the US and this distinction maybe separates Baseball from all of the other major sports. Even if you have gone away from baseball, it is sort of like riding a bike you watch one game and your back in the groove again.
Baseball may have been replaced by Football as the number one spectator sport in the US but every American has a fondness for baseball due to many factors. Baseball was the first of the major team sports to enter into the fantasy sports realm and gave
birth to the whole Fantasy sports craze. Even at the ballpark on game day you always got a program and documented
each play or at home dad would review the box scores and stats from the daily newspaper so it is not surprising that baseball was the first fantasy sport to be played. Baseball just intrinsically lends itself to statistics and thus entices the stats geeks and analytics.
Baseball is mostly played outside so it attracts the casual fan; maybe those not so interested in the game as much as they are to grab some sun on a warm lazy summer afternoon while breathing in some fresh air and kicking back a cold frothy ale. If this sounds enticing then baseball is definitely the ticket for you as the other major sports are either played indoors or in very cold conditions for the most part. Since baseball is a game for warm to hot days it’s only fitting that the games pace is a little lazy as well. So you could say baseball appeals to the casual fan who just enjoys a sunny day outside.
Baseball also has it’s die hard fans. Those who go to the ballparks for numerous sights they hope to see like a great pitchers duel or the classic battle between an all-star fastball pitcher against an all-star fastball hitter. No baseball fan can resist this one. Maybe your team has a great base stealer or an outfielder with a cannon arm that always guns down the opposing runner trying to go for home. Who doesn’t want to cheer when your team with bases full 1 out when they turn in the classic 3-4 double play which is executed perfectly to retire the side.
Now like America, baseball is not perfect and has had to survive a number of incidents that have tarnished it’s once proud luster like the Black Sox scandal, Pete Rose gambling allegations, corked bats and of course steroids & drug use in that regard baseball is not that different from any other major sport. Cheating & gambling are not things any sport wants to be mentioned with but it is out there. Baseball is trying to move past these incidents. I submit also that a weak league office is not providing much of a
remedy to repair the leagues image that coupled with inflated ticket prices have fans feeling a little betrayed and confused by the sport they loved so much. Since this is a game played and ran by humans there will always be imperfections so we forgive and move on and baseball may not thrive as it once did but it survives.
Baseball appeals to the statisticians, outdoor/sun lovers & hardcore fans and if that isn’t enough there are always those things that
make up the essential nature of baseball and their stadiums that may hook you. Boxes of cracker jacks with hidden treasures;
seventh inning stretches and singing take me out to the ball game; a bats’ crackling sound when a homer is hit; a pitcher shaking his head as the catcher signals in the call; feeling the warmth of the sun on your shoulders; pitching relievers warming up in the bullpen; memories of your childhood with your dad, grandpa or uncle at your first game; your team’s home run hitter in the on deck
circle with bases loaded;the smell of freshly cut grass and suntan lotion; foul balls being caught in the stands by patrons; pennants flying out of the ball park on a cool breeze & your runner sliding with dirt flying into home plate as the umpire waves his arms safe, if none of these things appeal to you well then I can only surmise in your soul you must not be an American.