In Defense of the Game

Published on my baseball blog, December 30, 2011:

I think a recent movie said it the best. Of course, most people will eat up any words that come out of Brad Pitt‘s mouth, but just think about it: “How can you not be romantic about baseball?” Anyone who knows the game will understand…and anyone who condemns it as boring probably never gave it a try (and will obviously not be reading this blog).

Despite that aforementioned and unspoken understanding that we fans share, I still have spent numerous commercial breaks between innings trying to put it all into words. What is it that puts our sport above all others in our minds? And why on earth has football become the new American tradition?…or shall I stoop to say it, “America’s new favorite pastime?”

Now, I want to take this moment to say to football fans, I apologize. I know that people can be in love with two or more sports at once. But I personally have had a relationship with the pigskin much like that which I criticized sentences ago: I never took the time to learn the intricacies of the game. And yes, I realize this renders me a hypocrite. But I just can’t help but feel that paying heavy attention to any other sport means I’m cheating on baseball.

That being said, I would like to move forward and give a testimony in hopes that should it be needed in the future, it will be filed under the “Save Baseball” label.

When the pitcher takes the mound and runs the ball between his fingers, whether he is nervous or calm, everyone in the stadium knows that just about anything can happen. The most certain of games can be upset with just the swing of a bat, sometimes even when the potential losers are down to their last strike – their last second of game play – as we all learned this past October.

The truth is, there’s no running out the clock in baseball. Sure there is also no tackling or intense man-to-man contact, unless spectators are lucky enough to get treated to a base running standoff. No, the injuries in this sport are caused simply by the exact wrong twist of a shoulder or leg. But I find all this to make the men who play even more honorable as athletes.

Rather than man versus man, baseball can be a case of man versus the human form, or even man versus fate. Perhaps I’m wrong, but in football you can pit two players, two hundred pounds and three hundred pounds, against each other and the three hundred pounder will win pretty much every time. If you do this in baseball, there’s an element of chance involved.

Not to mention the fact that the game hinges on the carefully calculated moves of one person within each instant, whether it be the manager, pitcher, batter, or fielder. And that each team plays a whopping 162 games a year.

Every single day of the summer, sports fans can turn on their television and they are guaranteed nine or more innings of entertainment. But in recent years, I have come to understand that viewership has been on the decline, which just doesn’t make sense to me.

I beg you baseball fans to remind your friends of the romance in baseball. Let’s make Brad Pitt proud and restore the old glory that, for me, has never left.

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