Growing up in Australia you get drilled with cricket and Rugby (or Australian Rules Football if your from the southern states).
At Highschool they set up a small Baseball comp for us which they got me to play in. I quite enjoyed playing it, I actually hit 2 home runs in my first match.
What I don't get (and yes I understand Baseball is a religion in the US) is I don't see the spectator value in it, especially at the Major League level. The skill level is amazing, if you hit an infield shot your out, even with an out field shot you have little chance of making it to first base, it seems to depend on how far the out fielder has to move.
My memories of the mug level baseball I played any hit you had a chance and you just took off like a jack rabbit towards first base. At the level I played at even if you hit it straight to an infielder you still might make it, throws were inaccurate and balls got dropped. This doesn't seem to happen much in major league base ball, it seems the only way to get to first base would be by a rare fielding mistake or a deep out field shot away from the out fielder. A shot like that at the level I played you could almost make it to third.
I think this effect stifles many sports, I like to see action and a lot of risk taking/adhoc play in sports, Major League Baseball seems very predictable.
The attraction is sun, beer, peanuts and hotdogs.
If you're a slave to your free associations, does it automatically become something else?
Yeap getting drunk solves many problems.
I was watching the LA Dodgers playing the LA Angels, the difference seemed to be merely who made less mistakes, but the Dodgers pitcher did look better.
I guess some sports are good spectator sports, others you need booze !
No no no no no!!!!!
MLB and Minor League baseball is brilliant. Each has special qualities as a spectator sport. Enjoying the showcased talent can be better than watching some movie in a dingy theatre.
But the subtleties of the game need to be understood to really enjoy it as a spectator sport. It's the ultimate game in strategy and each and every pitch can determine a new outcome based on position of fielders on the diamond, what the pitcher throws, what the hitter's strengths and weaknesses, what kind of surface the teams are playing on and the experience the fielders have with that surface or lack of it (even the grounds crew gets involved by creating the unlevel playing field), what are the weaknesses and strength of each team as a team, what is the chemistry of the team, chemistry of players with manager/coaching staff...I can go on but I think you get the idea.
If you study the game, the various teams, you can get amazing amount of pleasure on watching the strategies unfold. I read a book once by a former outfielder who changed his position based on batter's preference for pitch, preference for pitch because of a certain count, whether or not the hitter was a slap hitter, power hitter, streaky hitter, pitcher's favorite pitch in a certain count, most accurate pitch in a certain count, the count itself, home vs away, the setting sun, whether it was a night game, was the air heavy....
Then there are the theatrics like last night's game for me. First I was sitting in left field balcony, first row at Petco Park (San Diego in case anyone wasn't sure) and my friend and I are both baseball fans. We know the game, we study the teams etc. We went to this game specifically to see the other team's pitcher who was the best in the majors right now and gave up the least amount of runs per innings pitched. And up until the 6th inning, he was pitching a no-hitter...which for those that don't know is a historical event to witness for anyone. And even though it was against my favorite team, I was kind of excited to witness history but still cheering for my team to get a hit! The pitcher was throwing a 98mph fastball, a devastating slider, a ridiculous curve ball that looked good coming out of his hand and then dove into the body of a lefty batter but it fooled the batter into swinging at air anyway. So entertaining!!! Then, the guy that I refer admiringly as "the ultimate pest" for our team gets up to bat. He's the guy that finds ANY WAY to get on base. He grinds and grinds until the pitcher just breaks down and throws a pitch that he can handle. I just KNEW he would be the first hit. Ding! Nice clean hit up the middle - and EVERYONE started cheering. Now my team was down 8-0 at this point, so it was highly unlikely my team would stage a comeback. They really aren't a good hitting team despite being in first place. And against a pitcher like this guy...noone thought my team had a shot. Well, that is until the pitcher who seemed to "lose it" when he gave up his no-hit bid. Suddenly there was another hit and a run scored (that was the pest that scored it) and then another hit and then a home run. Suddenly my team was now down only 4 runs with 3 more innings to play. We started to believe, the team started to believe, the opposing team started to lose their confidence... Next inning, my team scored 2 more runs and now it's a game! Every pitch became important, every out was important, every at bat was important. As fans we were having a blast because it was so exciting...
I learned a long, long time ago, "it ain't over, til it's over" the famous quote by Yogi Berra. In all the years I've watched baseball, all the comebacks, the crazy things that happen, black cats on the field, a bird dropping on someone's head, the grass lip not down correctly on the dirt, a hole in the fence...there's always something that can affect the outcome. The pure beauty of watching is "what could happen", "what will happen" and how amazing those moments can be to witness, especially with 25,000 of your closest and dearest friends. [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
Oh, and last night's game, my team lost 9-6 but that was okay, there's always tonight. I made some new friends at the game and didn't drink a drop of alcohol [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
My advise - next time you are in San Diego, let Jean Ann take you to a game! Few know the game as well as she does.
She took me to my first professional baseball game just last year and it was such a great experience - one I will never forget. We had the perfect seats, only few rows behind the dugout. I could actually see the players' faces. Perfect weather, perfect crowd, perfect game. I loved the entire atmosphere. The evening ended with a firework display.
I enjoyed it so much I asked her to go back for another game the next night.
You have to experience it with someone who knows the game and whose enthusiasm about the game is just so contagious.
And I'm going to go in a completely different direction for Jean Ann...
I've been a baseball fan for as long as I can remember. How'd I get introduced? By my dad. That's how a good majority of baseball fans come to be. They're introduced by their dads.
It starts off simple. "Wanna throw the ball around?" or "Wanna play some catch?" Those are magical words to a lot of kids.
At yesterday's Twins game, they showed part of "This Week in Baseball" on the big screen. The emphasis of the episode that was shown was Father's Day and the relationships between sons and their dads. A couple of stories centered around how current or recent major leaguers were exposed to the game at a young age because their dads were also major leaguers. When I was watching those stories, this thread came immediately to mind.
One of the important things about going to professional baseball games is that it is about a father/son experience. I'd be willing to bet that a lot of us would be able to talk about some of our earliest experiences of going to games with our dads.
For me, there are two games at Wrigley Field that come immediately to mind.
The first game was the Cubs vs. the Pirates during the opening series of the season back in the late 70's. I don't remember much about the game. I remember the weather was lousy (cloudy/drizzling). I also remember that Manny Sanguillen hitting a triple during the game. But what I remember most is that I was there with my dad.
The second game was during Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak. We didn't have seats. We had standing room tickets. Couldn't see much of anything. But, whenever Pete Rose was up, my dad helped me to see the field.
A couple of years ago, I went back to Wrigley for the first time since 1980. Why? Two reasons. First, I'm a Cubs fan. Second, it was one of the experiences that my dad and I shared while growing up.
Now, getting back to the games of today. If you look around, you will see lots and lots of families at games...or, at a minimum, fathers with their sons. At last night's game, there was a mother explaining some of the game to her daughter. And, at tonight's game, it was boyfriend (assumed) explaining some of the game to his girlfriend (assumed). I didn't look too closely, but I imagine that there were groups of multiple generations there as well - grandfather, father, son. All sharing baseball...and their time together. Making memories.
And I'll echo some of the sentiments from above. If you get the chance to go to Petco, go. At the same time, if you get the opportunity to go to Target Field, I'd recommend it as well. (Yeah, I'm a little bit of a homer in that aspect.)
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
-George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner, 1856-1950
My point is the excellent skill level on display is what tends to make it boring for me. I like sports that are less predictable. Don't get me wrong, I am giving a back hand complement to the skill level of these guys who seem to make very few mistakes and play a precision game. In fact the time I found it interesting was when there was a mistake.
I did say I know its a religion, but for the non religious like me, it looks rather predictable. The impression I got was that one team had a better pitcher and hence they won. I get if you study the game you get to know all the subtleties you would appreciate it more, I guess for those who don't watch cricket would say the same about that, there is subtleties in that game that many don't get, but I will admit that Cricket can be boring depending on the intentions of the teams.
What you are saying is that there is a cultural connection, maybe I am too analytical when watching sports. My father was a soccer nut and tried to ram soccer down my throat. I find soccer extremely boring (playing or watching ..... horse for courses). I ended up playing rugby which I am built for and even made state level selection at a junior level.
I guess any sport can be boring if the intentions are not there (like soccer teams playing for draws). The "LA Dodgers playing the LA Angels" was probably the most I have ever watched a Baseball game, I have played the game (and loved it) so I get the basics. I doubt I have the time or the inclination to study baseball to the point where I might enjoy the subtleties of the game, especially at the high skill level I saw.
I might be in the US next year, my wife wants to go to Las Vegas (go figure....), If I go I will try to line up baseball tickets somewhere.
The last time I was over there I did go to an NFL match and enjoyed it.