I Don’t Like BaseballPosted: March 27, 2013
This was originally written for and posted at Cee Angi’s site Baseball Prose.com. Since having been deleted from that site, I have decided to re-post it here because well, I just really enjoyed writing it:
I don’t like baseball. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy baseball. I choose to watch games
of my own free will and am entertained. But I don’t like baseball. There is nothing
special to me about the game above anything else in this world. The beauty of
the game does not transcend description to me. Red Smith quipped, “Ninety feet
between bases is the nearest thing to perfection that man has yet to achieve.” To me,
ninety feet is just a dimension. I don’t “stare out the window and wait for spring”
like Rogers Hornsby when there’s no baseball. Ernie Harwell wrote, “Baseball is a
ballet without music. Drama without words.” I see it as just a game. I enjoy baseball,
but I don’t like baseball.
I grew up in a family that didn’t have any interest in sports, yet after a neighbor
provided my brothers and me with a massive amount of trading cards, baseball
became my obsession. I treated these cards as if they were precious metals. I would
spend hours reading and sorting them while Bob Uecker — the voice of the Brewers-
– indoctrinated me with the religion of baseball. Eventually I began playing in youth
leagues, where I still have a vivid recollection of many of the plays I made. When I
look back on my childhood, baseball is the first place my mind goes. Even hearing
Uecker’s voice brings me back to those countless days spent on my bedroom floor
while the Brewers game poured into my ears like a perfect rendition of Beethoven’s
9th symphony. I like the memories I have of baseball, but I don’t like baseball.
I was drawn to sports at a young age. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the athleticism
required. Maybe it’s the competition. Maybe it’s just that it provides me with an
escape from my daily life. But I can’t shake the feeling that if I were born in Canada,
I would follow hockey. Anguilla? Yacht racing. Afghanistan? Buzkashi. Almost any
other country in the world? Soccer. I like sports, but I don’t like baseball.
I’m an extremely analytical person. If a list or spreadsheet can be made, it will be.
I’ve created ranking systems for hockey radio stations, my music collection and
every fantasy sport I’ve ever played, including baseball, hockey, basketball and
football. I created a system that attempts to calculate daily results of individual
baseball players. I like it when things go the way they should. A season of baseball
is worth much more to me than a season in any other sport. There aren’t 16 or 82
games in a season — there are 162. Terrible teams may get lucky sometimes, but
the teams that stand out in the end are good. They have to be. A terrible player may
reach base nine times in 10 plate appearances, but he won’t finish a full season
with a .900 on-base percentage. In baseball, most things just…smooth out. It is the
most statistically modeled sport I know and I like that. I like the analytical nature of
baseball, but I don’t like baseball.
I spend a lot of time with baseball. I blog, I analyze, I tweet, all about baseball. My
mind is always investigating new intricacies of the game. I study statistics and seek
the subtleties. If news happens, I’m usually one of the first to know, simply because
I’m always following it. I’m obsessed with baseball, but I don’t like baseball.
But then there are four simultaneous games, the results of which will decide who
goes to the playoffs. Two of the teams are nearing historic collapses. One team is a
strike away from elimination until a home run sends the game into extra innings.
Another team is struggling to force a playoff until they give up an RBI single in the
9th and complete their collapse. Still yet another team is on the verge of making the
playoffs outright until, in the span of a few minutes, they allow their opponent to
score twice in the bottom of the 9th while their rivals win their game with a walk
off home run in the bottom of the 12th. My heart is pounding and my mind is racing.
And it’s in those moments of emotion and suspense, of the impossible calculation
becoming the actual result, where all that I know to be true about baseball is cast
aside for a brief second…those are the moments when I love baseball.