By Annie Moore–
“Baseball is boring. It’s just so hard to watch, nothing happens. I don’t get it.”
If I had a nickel for every time I’d heard these phrases or some variation on them, I could probably pay back my student loans. Every time I hear someone express this sentiment I’m filled with disgust and pity, because how sad it is that I live in a generation seemingly too busy to enjoy the greatest sport of all time. The fact is baseball isn’t boring.
Sure in this generation of instant gratification, social media, technological ‘advancements’ and no wait time, we might have been conditioned not to sit down for nine innings and pay attention. But if you go to a ballpark, set your phone down and pay attention, you might just find the magic inside our national pastime.
In the words of Annie Savoy, “I believe in the church of baseball.” The magic of the perfect pitch, the jaw-dropping double play, the sound of a bat cracking, little perfect moments that are free with the price of admission. Baseball doesn’t have people colliding into each other on every play, or scores in the 90’s or above, it’s not checkers, it’s a chess match. It requires that every member on a team be multi-faceted. And requires that the greatest have five tools in their toolbox. In no other sport can you see strength, speed, control and smarts combined in such a way.
I guess I understand the reasoning behind the sentiment that baseball is boring, or at least understand how someone could become so disillusioned. If you didn’t grow up at the ballpark like I did, you don’t know the glory of a hot July day, with a double header and a snow cone. You don’t know what it’s like to watch the game winner drop just over the outfielders glove to the other side of the fence. Or know the agony of the ball that slips under your glove.
I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up watching more live baseball and softball games than television shows. And when I wasn’t at the park, I found my heroes in the Bigs. ‘The Iron Man’ Cal Ripken, who was the embodiment of the blue collar working man, and also happened to play 2,632 consecutive games. Robby Alomar, whose twelve gold gloves are more than any second basemen in history. Ken Griffey Jr., the Cincinnati kid following in his dad’s footsteps, who racked up 630 home runs and 10 Gold Gloves. These guys were doing things larger than life, but they’re in fact real.
Every trip to the ballpark you get to see the faces of guys chasing those dreams, those records. You become a small part of that story. With every at bat, every hit, every play, they are chasing their dreams. It is the little intricacies of baseball that make it a beautiful game. Like a fine wine, or a classic painting, you can step back and look at it from a distance and see it. But to really understand it, pay a little closer attention and you will find the tiny details that make it truly unique and perfect.
I’m a member of the technology generation. I understand that life for us is largely lived through staring at our phones. We text, tweet, and snap everything, viewing our lives on an iPhone screen. It’s hard to fit all of the awesome of baseball on that tiny 4.7-inch display.
So do yourself a favor, set the phone down. Take your headphones out. Grab your friends, your grandparents, your brother or sister, your parents. Take them to a ballgame. Go to Jim Patterson Stadium (it’s free!), or Louisville Slugger Field, the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, or anywhere the national pastime calls home. Sit for nine innings without tweeting or texting. Sit in peace free of ringtones and Vines.
Instead enjoy the sound of walking vendors barking “Cotton Candy here!” and “Get your Cracker Jack!”. Listen to the crack of the bat, the chatter of the infielders, the roar of the crowd. Buy yourself a good ol’ American hotdog and put too many toppings on it. Follow Harry Caray’s advice and get a nice, cool Budweiser, if you’re of age of course. Sit and enjoy essentially the same exact game as people were enjoying a century ago. When titans like Babe Ruth, Roger Hornsby and Lou Gehrig captured the hearts and minds of America.
And if you have an absolutely horrible time, have smartphone withdrawals, get hit by a foul ball and drop your hot-dog, accept this as my preemptive apology. I believe every person can benefit from a good afternoon watching baseball. And if you want to argue that with me that’s fine, come find me and talk. I’ll be at the ballpark.
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal