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Why Baseball Is Awesome.

There are lots of sports in the world and for each one–should you find the right person–you can find someone to say that they’re the best sport ever.

These fine Canadians would say hockey.

Football is the one for this fine connoisseur of pink styrofoam hands.

Curling has these happy disciples.

And soccer aficionados build strong bonds at quite a young age.

But for me the sport of choice is probably baseball.  There are lots of reasons for this.  Let me demonstrate visually one of those reasons.

All Star

Greatest Player of All Time.

Guy who gets winded walking up the stairs in the stadium.

While baseball has its fair share of terrific athletes, it’s always had guys who were just, well… guys.

And Al Hrabosky, whose facial hair was never as famous as Rollie Fingers’, but I never understood why not.

People say that basketball is appealing to inner city youth (read African Americans) because they see people like themselves, which sounds so reasonable it has to be true.  But with the growing obesity problem in America, doesn’t John Kruk look like a lot of people you know?  Your barber?  Your dentist?  The guy who sits at the bar and stares uncomfortably at your girlfriend the entire time you’re there like he has x-ray eyes?

A guy who might actually be Al Hrabosky?

I mean, that’s not necessarily the only reason we like sports–and it’s definitely not the reason why we like Al Hrabosky–but it counts for something.

Baseball is also appealing because it can loved on many different levels.

1.  The game is not timed.  An inning takes as long as an inning takes.  A game as long as a game takes.  It gives baseball a timeless, unrushed quality that appeals to people who are no longer in such a damn hurry.

Also it allows me to reflect on how I used to be young… it allows for many bathroom breaks as well, important when incontinence becomes a constant companion.

2.  The game lends itself to mathematical analysis that appeals to the nerd population.

They are everywhere and they are shirtless.

3. It is the last vestige of the underdog in the sports world.

Remember Hoosiers?

Ollie!!!!

Yeah, that doesn’t happen anymore.  You can make an argument that the Giants winning the Super Bowl was a case of David beating Goliath.

David.

Goliath.

But you can only make the argument so long as you ignore the fact that Eli Manning comes from the most famous quarterbacking family in the world, that he’s already won a Super Bowl and that he’s  famous and well paid.  It was more like Goliath beating a much better looking Goliath.

Kentucky won the NCAA tournament.  Alabama won the college football championship.  LeBron and the Heat won the NBA championship.  No one was surprised by any of these developments.  Men’s tennis is dominated by three players.  Golf is a little more up in the air now that Tiger Woods is aging, but since golf is the most boring sport invented by white men to keep undesirables away (I’m looking at you Augusta!) I’m not going to count it.

Now obviously, baseball has its problems in this area, too.

It allows the Yankees, for example, to spend as much money on payroll as six or seven other franchises combined. Go Yankees!

But baseball also produces things like Phil Humber‘s perfect game.

I hope you like that picture, Phil. You’re likely to be signing copies of it for the rest of your life.

Phil was a complete and utter bust, a case of unfulfilled talent, until one magical spring day when things came together for him and he shut down a line up.

And as improbable as that was, it is nothing compared to the story of R.A. Dickey.  R.A. Dickey’s story is not one of unfulfilled talent, it is one of no one ever believing he had talent.  Until he discovered the knuckleball.

The knuckleball is the great equalizer in the game of baseball, and there really isn’t an equivalent to it in any other sport.  It’s a pitch that doesn’t spin like any other.  It doesn’t require great arm-strength, just the right grip and motion.  Not everyone can throw it, but if you can…. well… you might end up throwing consecutive one-hitters in the Major Leagues.

And make all your enemies rue the day they made fun of you for having the name “Dickey”

R.A. Dickey is pitching against the Yankees tonight.  He has just completed two games that match up in dominance against any two games in baseball history.

Games in which people hit more dragonflies than baseballs when facing him.

And now he faces one of the most expensive offenses ever assembled.  It’s a terrific match-up.  And it’s why baseball is awesome.

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