Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why I love Baseball

There will surely be some whisky and other alcohol related posts after this weekends 2nd annual Whisky Party.  But after watching the Eagles latest debacle the other night, I thought I'd take a detour into the sports world. 

First, let it be known that I am a true homer when it comes to sports.  I follow the Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers (sorry Fly-guys, I'm not much of a hockey guy).  I don't watch ESPN.  I have no idea, for example, of the record of the St. Louis Rams, and I don't play fantasy football (though I have in the past and might again sometime).  On the collegiate level, I do really enjoy watching college basketball, especially any of the local teams.  I'll watch Temple football here and there, as my wife is a Temple student.  But at the end of the day, it's Phils, Eagles, Sixers.  Not necessarily in that order.  Now it's football season, and I'm no dummy, I know that in many ways the NFL is now our national pastime.  And for good reason.  The Sunday scheduling, importance of each game in a 16 game season, and bone crunching thrills amount to a pretty good show.  But in my heart I still prefer baseball. 

Everyone tells me how football has so much action and baseball is dull.  No one likes how the batter can step out of the box, the pitcher can throw to first base multiple times, right-left-right pitching changes, etc.  Some folks feel there should be a time component to the game.  But the beauty of baseball is the lack of time component.  Each game has its own flow.  The most memorable game of the Phils season last year for me was the 19 inning game.  I was at the park that night, and left after the 9th bc/ I had a job interview the next day, but then stayed up all night watching it bc/ I couldn't sleep.  Watching a position player pitch--and pitch well--was surreal.  And there was plenty of action, in that game and all season long.  Watching JRoll leg out a triple, or flip a double play, is even more exciting to me than a moonshot from Ryan Howard.  And when the Phils hang on by a gut wrenching save by Ryan Madson, the win afterwards is that much sweeter.  Even the "boring" parts of baseball are interesting to me, like watching a pitcher like Roy Halladay set up a batter to strike out in his next plate appearance.  Or watching Charlie Manuel refuse to make his players bunt in a clear bunt situation.

Does football really have all the action it's hyped up to have?  In a 3 hour game, there are 60 minutes of gameplay.  Of that gameplay, there have been studies that show there are only about 15 minutes of real "action."  The rest of the time the clock just ticks, while I am supposed to be content staring at Andy Reid's fat stomach.  I guess the action is more intense, from a physical perspective.  (Aside: I won't even debate which sport has more strategy, bc/ I like the strategy aspect of football as well as baseball.  As much as I was rooting for the Eagles, it was incredible to witness such an amazing Bears gameplan on Monday night, as they contained Vick and punished the Birds).  Watching football can be a bit boring.  Minutes upon minutes of giant men just standing around, waiting for the next play.  Commercials after every freakin' kickoff return, time out, and injury.  In baseball, I know when the commercial is coming, so I can time my beer run, bathroom break, or dog walk accordingly.  And speaking of injuries, there are so many in football.  It's "part of the game," but for me it kind of ruins it.  So many key players miss time on every team.

I also love the long season of baseball.  It's like a friend for the summer.  When I walk around South Philly during a game, there are still some folks listening to the radio broadcasts on their porches (some even set up tv's outside) so I can soak up the gist of the game.  I can watch a couple of innings here and there and get the general idea of the game.  Or I can sit and watch all 9 if I have the time, and I often make the time.  And as the fall chill looms on the horizon, there is nothing like a pennant race to keep things heated up. 

This baseball season was a huge disappointment.  But it was still a hell of a lot of fun.

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