posted by Matt W on July 10th, 2013

A rebuttal to Joe A’s Monday Baseball Is To Slow post.

I admit it Joe A., in our Ritalin controlled, video-game-driven world, baseball has lost some of its appeal. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome. It just means that we need to work harder at proving it to our kids, so a decade from now, they don’t have to watch Rollerball, high on something, just to be entertained.

Baseball is a subtle game. And while I like to watch a home run as much as the next guy, I also appreciate a shut-out. There is always something going on. I was watching a game with my sister at Safeco a few years ago. Ryan Langerhans was up to bat. We were chatting about this and that (yet another reason baseball is nice) and in between sentences I said, “Ryan is going to hit a homerun right in front of us.” Two pitches later, Ryan hits a ball off the top of the left field wall for a double. I said to my sister, “You would have thought I was pretty impressive if that was a foot higher.”

“How do you do it? You always know what’s going to happen” was her reply. I went on to explain that Langerhans had hit the ball hard his two previous at bats, so he was obviously seeing this pitcher’s pitches well, even though he only had a single and an out to show for it. He liked to go opposite field, and the pitcher liked to pitch on the outside half.  Hard hit ball to left field; it wasn’t that hard of a call. Thoughts like this go through my head every batter, every pitch. I make one or two MLB Nostradamus predictions every game and have a pretty high success rate.

Baseball is subtle but amazing. Stand out in center field and watch as the catcher puts down the sign, and just as the pitcher pitches the fielders will shift to where they think the ball will be hit depending on who is up and what pitch is being thrown. Get a program and read up on a batter or two as there is always some interesting story and then tell your kids about them. Or stand behind home plate and watch how much a good pitcher’s pitches are moving that night or how little the catcher has to move his glove. One of the coolest games I watched was Curt Schilling throw a 3 hitter at Dodger stadium and I think he missed his target  only a couple of times all night; pin-point accuracy. Pitch after pitch into the motionless catcher’s mitt. Amazing. I stood there all night talking to an older usher about all the great games he had seen pitched from his spot behind home plate.

Many of my best memories are baseball related. Playing catch with my Grandfather (and later keeping track of the score of games we listened to on the radio). Hitting the only home run of the season as a third grader. School yard pick-up games at UP Elementary. Listening to Dave Neihaus call Phil Bradley’s game winning grand slam home run on the radio.  Celebrating with my wife in her parent’s kitchen, watching a hurt Kirk Gibson hit a home run to win a World Series game for the Dodgers (we weren’t even Dodger fans, it was just that awesome). Teaching my son how to bunt. And it is these thoughts and experiences that I take to every baseball game I go to.

I love watching and playing baseball, which is generally considered one of the two most boring sports (golf being the other; my other favorite sport). I think it could be argued that they also have the two most loyal groups of followers. Once you get it, you’re hooked for life.  They’re both filled with subtleties that keep the game interesting.

Finally I will say this. I can’t tell you how many parents have said to me, I put my ADHD kid in karate and it’s amazing how much better he is. Baseball is American karate. We didn’t hear about ADHD 40 years ago, because every kid knew how to stand still an inning at a time, and explode at just the right time into action. They knew how to be still in the dugout and just think about what was going to happen or cheer on their teammates. My guess is ADHD medicine could be drastically reduced with a little more baseball and a little less video games.

I guess I need to take Joe A’s ADHD butt to another game so he remembers just how cool baseball actually is.

(Joe A., remember to bring your mitt and I’ll tell you where all the foul balls are going to go.)

File Under Jack of all Trades