LADIES AND GENTLEMEN MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. I’VE JUST BEEN HANDED A PIECE OF BREAKING NEWS: BASEBALL IS BACK AND IT IS AWESOME.
As I sit here watching the opening weekend of the new baseball season, I cannot help but think about how much I love this sport. Fantasy baseball has only expanded this love, as now I actually have a reason to care about Willie Bloomquist’s day-to-day game log. Fantasy baseball comes out somewhere around #115 on the list I have in my head of why baseball is great. So in honor of the REAL opening day(s) (sorry, Japan), here are a smattering of reasons why baseball is great that are floating in my brain right now. Enjoy.
that’s Chewbacca. On a pitcher’s mound.
#999,888,777,666 – Laughing at people who don’t get it.
#66 – The Lingo
If the name of our blog wasn’t a clue….
Baseball has a whole dialect, a whole different set of idioms, analogies and traditional phrases that simply don’t make sense. I made this a general topic so it would include everything from home run calls to dugout talk because it is all great.
2 out hits get you to heaven.
#42 – BASEBALL CARDS!
In his day, he was a handsome man.
They’re going out of style, sort of, but man do I love baseball cards. Every parent has a story about them. Seriously, go ask. They’re the only sports cards that are cool.
Do you know someone, old or young who collected baseball cards? I’m sure you do. Do you know anyone who isn’t a complete goof who collected another sports card? They’re probably weird. Just sayin’.
This is meant to be a light and silly post, so I will not spend nearly the appropriate amount of time gushing about one of my favorite players in any sport of all time. He was a joy to watch, both offensively and especially defensively in his heyday and brought such crazy goofy joy to the sport it was hard not to root for him. He grinned like a kid every time he made one of his signature up-the-wall catches as if he was surprised by his agility too. And damn, those catches. You can see him narrate some of them in a cool MLB.com clip here. Or MLB.com’s top ten memories here. Or do a Google search to pull up any of his dozens of jaw-dropping web gems. He also had one of the greatest baseball games of all time, for N64
#13 – The Seventh Inning Stretch.
I feel this needs little explanation. Do other sports take a break and have the whole stadium sing? I rest my case.
#10 – Peter Gammons
Peter Gammons is a national treasure. I honestly cannot tell you a single negative thing I’ve heard about the guy. He’s professional, witty, beyond knowledgeable and overall a nice, likable guy. Oh, and he jams. He is the baseball reporter reporters strive to be and has been for decades and is a constant in the sport. So why doesn’t he have a theme song you ask? Oh wait, the fine Youtube user mhouchin created this gem:
#9 – Ted Williams (okay, Joe DiMaggio too)
I’m a baseball history junkie and these two players, any and all admitted bias aside, are simply two of the most fascinating men to ever play the game. If you’ve never read Richard Ben Cramer’s book What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now? I’ve linked to it for you (click) so you can buy it on Amazon. Just a revelation on what made Ted tick. He is a truly unique and uniquely quotable man. As for DiMaggio, it goes without saying you should learn about him. From the streak to Marilyn Monroe to having this song written about him (and curiously called out by Simon and Garfunkel. Joe’s response to Ms. Robinson? “I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I’m a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven’t gone anywhere!” Heh.). Joe DiMaggio lived a life most of us only dream about and both he and Williams were figureheads of the defining era of baseball, in my opinion.
#5 – The Sandlot. More generally, baseball movies.
Without baseball, we would never have the greatest sports movie of all time. We also wouldn’t have this one
Or this one
3 of my favorite quotable scenes of all time. Thank you, baseball.
#2 – The Knuckleball
Other sports copy it. Millions try to imitate it. For me, there is something delightful about the pitch so few can throw. It kind of makes them like Jedi. It defies gravity and logic. It also is my way of cheating and tying in Wiffle Ball into the discussion, as despite what history might say, I’m going to assume someone invented the Wiffle Ball in an attempt to recreate a knuckleball on a smaller scale. That’s just what I’m choosing to believe.
I’ve sat here trying to think of another sports equivalent and am generally coming up empty. What else is so odd, rare, yet effective as a knuckleball. Well, this:
But that only matches in oddness. Anyone can learn to shoot a free throw like that. I bet you can’t throw a knuckleball.
#1 – The Fans
Awwww. Will, you’re such a softie! No, not exactly. Baseball fans are such an interesting mix to me. Some of the smartest minds in the world become complete buffoons when talking baseball and some of the biggest buffoons in the world can instantly make you feel small with their impeccable baseball knowledge. With the emergence of sabermetrics and advanced statistics, the blending has become even more pronounced. I don’t think other sports have the same diversity in types of players, employees, and fans. One of my favorite examples is in Texas, where the Rangers spend millions on Latin players, have a GM who looks like he’s 16 who was a nerd at Cornell, and are owned by one of the most firery farmboy flamethrowers of all time. There are plenty of things you could tell me are wrong with baseball, but the smash-up of cultures and personalities has always been (and hopefully will continue to be) what makes the sport so deeply fascinating to me, beyond even the game itself.
There’s my smattering of reasons. It is by no means a thorough list (The real list goes on and on in my head.). To any readers and all people accidentally reading this page in the hopes of finding actual ducks on water, why do YOU like baseball so much? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter.
Happy season, everyone.