Pretty much the best baseball article of the year, about the best baseball game ever. This game was the reason I wanted a Nintendo when I was a kid. I especially enjoyed his comments on playing with a younger brother and throwing the ball away after making out #3. Sometimes I’d throw the ball away when someone was on base, too. There are videos in the article to show you what I mean.
Here’s a great quote from Joe Posnanski about why some people hate certain sports:
I’ve always said that I have no interest in converting non-baseball fans into baseball fans. For one thing, I don’t think I could do it. But for another, I fully understand why some people think it’s oppressively boring. I understand because … baseball IS oppressively boring if you don’t like it. …
So, sure, if you don’t like baseball you don’t like baseball. But, you know, football is nine minutes of action and 51 minutes of meetings. Basketball is repetitive, and hockey is a game of line-shifts deflections, and soccer is a whole lot of kicking the ball back to the goalkeeper. Golf is about walking and geometry. Tennis is a math teacher explaining angles. If you want to pick out the worst things in a sport, you can make them all sound insanely boring — except MMA, perhaps, which is like watching assault and battery. The beauty in all these sports is those moments of brilliant action and the way the imagination fills the empty spaces. People have been burying baseball for a long time, and there are certainly reasons to believe that someday soon America will move on to something else.
I don’t think so, though. Yes, it’s local. No, it doesn’t do great TV ratings. Yes, there’s cynicism in the game and yes kids need more stimulation in their lives. But there’s something about baseball that has endured and, I believe, will endure through steroids and short attention spans and free agency and big contracts and everything else. Maybe I could explain it like this: If you go up to a baseball fan anywhere in America — in Montana, in Florida, in Texas or in Connecticut — and ask “Who scored the millionth run?” there’s a chance they will say they have no idea. But there’s a pretty good chance they’ll say “Bob Watson.” Why do they know that? Why do they care about something that meaningless? I think they care because of something I have said about baseball before: ”I never argue with people who say baseball is boring because baseball IS boring. But then, suddenly, it isn’t. And that’s why it’s great.“
Sometimes people say things you’re thinking much better than you can. I’ll just leave it at that, and use it as another explanation of why I love baseball.
Zack Greinke, the Royals’ lone All-Star and best pitcher in baseball, was excellent on the field yesterday: ten pitches, two strikeouts and a flyout in foul territory. Peter Gammons said he had the best pitching performance of the night. He was great off the field as well, as he had some great quotes over the past couple of days as well. This one was my favorite:
“I was hoping (President Obama) didn’t like me, because none of the White Sox guys like me. So I was hoping that he’d be like, ‘You punk, I hate you.’ But he didn’t do that.”
Here’s what a showdown between Obama (a White Sox fan) and Greinke would have looked like:
My vote is for Zack.
Although I certainly enjoy other teams (including the nearby Colorado Rockies, who I always watched on TV after we moved to New Mexico from Missouri), my favorite baseball team is the Kansas City Royals. A couple of weeks ago, Brian wondered how anyone could enjoy being a Kansas City Royals fan. Earlier this month, ESPN.com had an article about the failure dynasties, a list of five baseball teams that has earned a recent reputation for failure. Given that the Royals haven’t been to the playoffs since I started following them (I was four the last time they were in the playoffs, the year they won it all), why should I be interested in a team that hasn’t put up big numbers or employed superstars? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to just find a favorite player and follow him through his career, or adopt some new team who has more recent success stories?
It’s hard to explain why I like the Royals, but it all started when I was a kid. While I was growing up in Missouri, something about baseball struck a chord with me. We played baseball a lot with our neighbors in the field across the street from our house, and even though there were only four or five of us playing it was one of my favorite things to do. Tyler was a Cubs fan (probably because you could see so many of their games on WGN), Ray was a Cardinals fan, and I was a Royals fan. I chose the Royals because I liked their players and they were fairly close to where we lived so we could see some of their games on TV during the year. The sports section of the Joplin Globe often included stories about the Royals, and I read every one of them.
When we lived in Missouri I became more and more interested in baseball. The Royals were the third best team in baseball in 1989, just missing the playoffs. One of my favorite Christmas presents ever was the video game RBI Baseball 2 for the Nintendo. I collected a lot of baseball cards when I was a kid, memorized the statistics, and kept track of the players, but I kept my Royals cards in a separate binder, with all the George Brett cards at the front. In fourth grade we had to do a large research project for school, and I chose the Royals as my topic. My mom saw a note in the newspaper saying that two of the Royals players were going to visit a local bank, and they would be signing autographs! I thought this would be the perfect highlight to my Royals report, but unfortunately the players weren’t able to make it. I was disappointed, but they did send some autographed photos to hand out to the fans who showed up, which I promptly added to the cover of my Royals baseball card binder.
The Royals remind me of being a kid again. My family went to two Royals games when I was a kid, and I won’t forget how fun that was. My dad took us back once since we moved away, and I had just as much fun as I did when I was a kid. I loved Little League when I was little, and I was fascinated by the fact that Mickey Mantle played in the same town that I did when he was a minor leaguer for the Yankees. I continued playing baseball even until high school, and I loved every bit of it.
So fast forward to now. My favorite players from when I was a kid have all gone, but I’m still with the Royals. It’s been a while since they were very good, but that doesn’t stop me from following their team. I cheered with them through all their 100-loss seasons. Recently it’s been much easier because the Royals have some young talent that seems to be getting better all the time. I don’t only enjoy it because they win. Following a winning team isn’t what being a sports fan is about, it’s about being a kid again. It doesn’t take a playoff berth or a World Series banner for me to get excited about a team, although I don’t discount how exciting that can be for their fans. In my book baseball means fun from March to October. There are highs and lows for sure, but I’ll take a sweep of the Tigers any day over an over-hyped, over-paid team.
I really enjoy spring. With the arrival of spring comes warmer weather, a cheerful feeling of rebirth in everything around, and, of course, baseball.
As I write this my Kansas City Royals sit alone on top of the American League standings. If Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and the Yankees lose this evening then they may have a whole day to enjoy it. This doesn’t happen often, so we Royals fans can at least revel in the fact that we’ve beaten a team twice (the Tigers) that many have predicted to win the World Series this year, what with the addition of some great firepower to their lineup. I’m not sure if two early losses to the Royals are enough for Tigers fans to get nervous, but it’s moments like this that I’ve had to live for as a Royals fan. (Some readers will note that I’m also a Colorado Rockies fan, but my loyalty to the Royals remains and precedes the Rockies’ existence.)
So I can say that I’m officially enjoying spring, even if it means the return of lawn mowing and eagerness as I look out the classroom window* as I wait for the end of the semester to go outside and play.
(* note: there are not actually any windows in my classrooms, and even if there were, they would just show me some ugly buildings)