10 things I love about baseball

It is day 1000 of the virus hostage situation. Or so it seems. The regular baseball season should be well under way. MLB is apparently waiting until 327 million of us are infected and distracted before it will announce that instead of punishing the Red Sox that they are allowing the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox to hold a draft where they can take one great player from each team, but not pay for them. It is gloomy and rainy outside. I need an upper. So today’s tome will be a bit cathartic. That doesn’t look like it is spelled correctly, but I’m too tired and cranky to look it up.

Ten things I love about baseball:

  1. I love that it is timeless, both as a game and when it comes to every game. I have never felt quite as exhilarated as staying up forever for Game 5 of the 2017 World Series and it did not matter what time it was when it ended.
  2. I love that so much of it stays with me over time. It is so memorable. When MLB network broadcast the Astros 1986 Game 6 NLCS against the Mets the other night, I was texting my kids on what to watch for. Even though it was heartbreaking as a game, I will never forget Billy Hatcher’s foul pole shot to tie it in the 14th. Never.
  3. I love that it comes around every year (but this one) like a flower that blooms annually. It is new and different every year, but it has been a constant for 6 months out of every year.
  4. I love that it is played by “mostly” men that are not unusually sized or built like basketball and football players are. Alex Bregman, Craig Biggio, Jose Altuve are top notch players, but are not in the top 10% of physical specimens.
  5. I love that baseball can be played on so many different stages. Maybe some folks find it annoying, they may think that football and basketball which have exacting field and court dimension have it right. But I love a sport that has a place for the Astrodome and Fenway Park and Forbes Field and the Polo Grounds and Minute Maid Park and both Yankee Stadiums and Wrigley Field.
  6. I love that baseball was a sport that lent itself so well to radio back when I was just learning about it. My nights spent with the transistor radio listening to Gene Elston and Loel Passe informed my love and knowledge of this game.
  7. I love that baseball could be enjoyed even when the teams I cheered for were not that good. Sure, it is more fun when the team you are cheering for is going deep into the playoffs. But there was never a season when there were not fun games, come from behind games, terrifically pitched games.
  8. I loved that baseball is able to combine the mano to mano of pitcher vs hitter in the middle of a team game. It is somewhat unique in that regard.
  9. I love that baseball means the sound of bat on ball, ball on glove, the rising wave of sound as a game reaches a climax or the unbelievable constant din of a playoff game. I love the bright green of the grass, the tan of the dirt, the bright white of the foul lines, and the tier over tier of the stands rising like a cathedral. I love how it fills all of your senses.
  10. I love that baseball has led me to tie two of my loves – sports and writing – into one fanatic lovefest. This is always a joy.

What do you love about baseball?

69 comments on “10 things I love about baseball

  1. Baseball to me is a renaissance of my youthful dreams and the passion of the whole experience: (putting on my spike shoes, trying to kick the clay out of them when pitching on the mound, the smell of Spring grass and my leather glove, holding and admiring my new bat , the tragedy of breaking it, the thrill of hitting a home run, walking back to the dugout when I struck out. The thrill of striking out the side in college, the feelings of walking a run home when on the mound. ) My first heroes (Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette and Eddie Mathews).

    Liked by 4 people

    • Having been born in Milwaukee – Spahn and Burdette along with Aaron and Matthews were my parents favorites – we moved when I was 5.
      Matthews played here towards the end – I saw him hit his 499th at the Dome

      Liked by 1 person

      • And speaking of 1957, I got to see most of those games because I was sick with the “Asian Flu.” (This was so long ago, political correctness has not been invented).

        But not sure I saw all the games because I was hospitalized for a week with the flu. They shot me up with so much penicillin that all the skin came off my palms and bottom of my feet.

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  2. I’m going to do this step by step.
    The # 1 thing I love about baseball is the truly great players. I am not talking about using the term loosely. I’m talking about the greatest players of all time who played in the times when they were going against the greatest players of all time:
    Willie Mays
    Hank Aaron
    Mickey Mantle
    Pete Rose
    Yogi Berra
    Juan Marichal
    Brooks Robinson
    Stan Musial
    Johnny Bench
    Mariano Rivera
    Warren Spahn
    Steve Carlton
    Roberto Clemente
    Ozzie Smith
    These are the guys who literally defined their particular positions and were at the very top echelon for their entire careers. These players are who made baseball for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 2. The second thing I love most about baseball is the Houston Colt 45’s/Astros from April, 1962 through October, 2019. I am so hurt by what has been revealed in the last 5 months that I can’t wait for 2020 to end and for players like George Springer to start moving on so that my love can be renewed for the new Astros.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoy the ballet performance at second base in the event of a double play.

    I enjoy the outfielder robbing the opposing batter of a homerun.

    I enjoy the outfielder unleashing a laser to a base to collect an assist for a putout.

    I enjoy watching the hitter turn into a base runner after hitting a ball for a triple.

    I enjoy watching the umpire ringing up a hitter for a called third strike with runners on in a tense situation.

    I enjoy watching a no-hitter being pitched.

    I enjoy watching a third baseman making a great backhanded stab and then a great throw across the diamond.

    I enjoy watching Carlos Correa’s lasers during a relay.

    I enjoy watching an Astros player hitting a homerun.

    I enjoy watching the Astros team celebrating a World Series Championship!

    I always enjoyed listening to Gene Elston on the radio. I imagined sitting under a shade tree, on a hill watching the games.

    In 1975, the Astros had a two day tryout camp in town. I went and survived the first day, actually hitting a homerun during the day. It barely crept over the left field wall at the foul pole, but.. After the second day, I was culled because I was deemed to be too old and my “habits” were entrenched. How disappointing.

    I was always the one kid who, at the pickup games and in school, caused the other team to yell at the outfielders “back up” as I strode to the plate. Unfortunately, becoming an adult was my calling.

    Anyone here think Hinch will be the Astros’ manager next year?

    Liked by 4 people

  5. #3. One of the things I love most about baseball are the people in baseball that I love to hate. They are the guys that I can’t stand for one reason or another and I love that part of baseball. Doesn’t everyone who loves baseball have people in baseball they couldn’t stomach
    Barry Bonds
    Steve Garvey
    Alex Rodriguez
    Jon Singleton
    Robinson Cano
    Roger Clemens
    Joe West
    Ryan Braun
    Craig Kimbrel
    Joe Buck
    Carlos Gomez.
    Mike Fiers
    Yasiel Puig
    Josh Hamilton
    Roughned Odor
    Jose Fernandez
    John Rocker
    These guys make other bad guys look good to me.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. 4. On the other end of the spectrum are the guys who have always been special to me. Guys that made me love the game of baseball.
    Bob Aspromonte
    Duke Snider
    Prince Fielder
    Billy Wagner
    Mike Schmidt
    Sandy Koufax
    Jose Cruz
    Red Schoendienst
    Casey Stengel
    Carl Yastrzemski
    Ken Caminiti
    Al Kaline
    Craig Biggio
    Justin Verlander

    Liked by 1 person

  7. DanP, just wanted to tag onto #4. I got to see Curt Flood hit a home run in the Dome. I saw Jimmy Wynn hit one in the Dome. I saw Hank Aaron hit one in Arlington. (That ball was a rocket that got out of the park faster than any home run I ever saw.) The point is if one is too small to play. If one knows that before they get out of high school (5’1″). And that is why I LOVE Altuve. Like those above, they beat all odds. A “little man” can be a “BIG man” in baseball.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your comment about Aaron’s laser shot reminded me of the hardest hit ball I ever saw. It wasn’t a HR. Frank Howard hit a ball that never got more than 6 feet off the ground and hit the LF fence on one hop. The ball whizzed inches past the shortstop’s head, and the SS never moved a muscle: never even saw it. The very definition of a “frozen rope”.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. 7. One of the things I like about baseball is the injury situation. I love that there are not people trying to hit somebody so hard that they get hurt. I love that there aren’t penalties or personal fouls. I love that guys don’t fake fouls and don’t fake injuries. Most of all, I love that you can’t win or lose a game on a penalty kick.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And # 11: My favorite baseball team will win some games. No professional team wins all their games or loses all their games. Well not since 1880 or so. 1OP will need to fill us in on exactly what happened back then.

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    • Seriously, though, can you the more experienced folks attest to, or theorize for us?

      How did Tris Speaker only have 9-12 K’s a season with 600 Plate Appearances for so many years? Was the pitching overall less effective/specialized back then? What makes it such a “different era” game to have stats that were so skewed compared to todays? I cannot imagine his bat to ball skills were THAT marginally better than say, Altuve, who usually has 93% strike zone swings and contact made, which is pretty darn good against the league. Compared to a wilder swinging A’s Khris Davis in 2019 was 82%, to give you an idea.

      There were guys who threw exceptionally hard in 20′-40’s, so I just wonder if there are ways to compare statistics as apples to apples; to acknowledge respect for Negro League/S American play which was not a part of the contest – was there quite the bigger pool of talent as today?

      Liked by 1 person

      • GS – Well if we are talking about Tris Speaker, I think even OP will have to theorize rather than attest to what you are asking about. I think there are a lot of factors that go into this.
        1) Totally different game. The idea was to make contact, not to beat the heck out of the ball. In 1918, a year Tris Speaker had 9 K’s – the most in all the majors was by some kid named Babe Ruth (58 Ks) in a year he only hit 11 HRs (and tied for the most in the majors).
        2) The amount pitchers pitched in games. The idea was to pitch complete games. In 1918 the number of complete games varied from 59 (Yankees) to 105 (Red Sox). Even though the pitchers could throw hard – they probably did not throw as hard as possible because they had to try and last 9 IP.
        3) Pitching every 4th game – the 4 man rotation also probably caused the pitchers to really not be able to throw their maximum
        4) Bullpens were an afterthought. They were not 7 or 8 guys throwing 96 mph – they were guys not good enough to be in the rotation
        5) Use of bullpen – you would have never seen a guy brought in to pitch to one guy as a lefty lefty matchup and such

        And I’m sure there is more. Obviously there is a bigger pool to pick players from these days – we have more than 3 times the population of back then and on top of it baseball is now totally international – so the pool is so much bigger than that.

        On the other hand – there were only 16 teams back then. Plus I frankly think (at least for the US) that there are less kids playing baseball these days than back then.

        And I think Tris Speaker was an exceptional hitter – but he was not the only one back then.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The differences between height and weight of athletes today and in the early 1900’s are staggering. That accounts for the type of baseball that was being played. Also, there were no trainers, dieticians, chefs, gyms and fitness centers and no GNC’s back then. Food and water were not as reliable or healthy.
      Then the Great Depression hit and things got even worse.

      Liked by 2 people

      • But without trainers, dieticians, chefs, etc. they were still in good enough shape to put that bat on the ball a lot more often. I get the feeling that along with hitting to put the ball in play, that the pitchers were pitching a lot more to contact knowing that the hitters were not going to strike out that much – kind of a self fulfilling prophecy

        Liked by 1 person

  10. If ya think some of the stuff I post is too deep o’ dive, you may not see a reason to replace batting Average, per se. But for those stats enthusiasts, I like the wavelength this guy is on. I had one criticm that it doesn’t reward the crafty hitter, who doesn’t get much exit velocity, but with bat control, can generate a better production.

    In a nutshell, his view is toward a better predictive stat of hitting, which aligns more truly to “best hitting,” than BA, OPS+, or wRC+. If you dare?

    It’s called pDRC+

    https://maxsportingstudio.com/an-introduction-to-pdrc/

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like getting down and dirty with the stats, GS, but there’s always something that makes me queasy about the ones that depend on a predicted this or a probable that; the ones that concentrate more on what a player woulda/coulda/shoulda done if reality hadn’t intervened. To me, they can lose sight of what a guy actually DID. For the average fan, I think there’s a lot of value in a stat that can be easily calculated and fits on the back of a baseball card. I really don’t care that a stat is a better predictor of what a player will do NEXT year as compared to another stat. Now, if I owned a team, I might care.

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    • It’s a good effort, but I think it fails on a couple counts. First, I think it’s skewed toward what the author wants the results to be. That may just be my interpretation of his explanations though. Second, he makes some attempts fix the data – a BB is more valuable in his scoring than a HBP with a justification given, but he doesn’t factor in the difference in IBB and BB. I don’t agree with his HBP logic for what it’s worth. However, my biggest disagreement is not just with him as it is with a large percentage of the current analytic community. There is a belief that a ball hit with an exit velocity of 100MPH directly at a fielder is bad luck. That’s kind of like saying an NBA player who missed a three point shot because it hit off the back of the rim, but had really nice backspin had bad luck. You shouldn’t try to give a hitter extra credit for a loud out. It’s still a loud out and has more to do with where the defense positioned itself than how hard he hit the ball. It would be like giving someone credit for a HR because their flyball to CF was caught on the warning track in MMP when if it were hit at Great American Ballpark it would be ten rows deep. That ignores that the pitcher would (likely) have tried to pitch him differently in a bandbox but wants balls to be hit up the middle at MMP. Every time a player steps into the box he has the opportunity to survey the defense and the field. He will know the wind conditions. Anecdotally, the hardest hit ball I ever hit only went about 250 feet. Some would say I had the bad luck to hit it directly into such a strong wind, but the truth remains I was only thinking about “putting a good swing on it, barreling it up, etc.” and gave the other team an easy out. Barry Bonds couldn’t have hit a HR in the conditions that day. A smarter player wouldn’t have hit it in the air or would have tried to hit to another place on the field. Of course, in today’s game, apparently it’s accepted that hitters don’t try to do that.

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      • Al Kaline from 1957 to 1968

        1957: gold glove (GG) + all-star (AS)
        1958: GG + AS
        1959: GG + AS
        1960: AS
        1961: GG + AS
        1962: GG + AS
        1963: GG + AS
        1964: GG + AS
        1965: GG + AS
        1966: GG + AS
        1967: GG + AS
        1968: World Series Champion

        May Al Kaline rest in peace.

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  11. Not sure if I’ve got ten, but I’ve always loved a well groomed diamond. Could be a Little League Field, or Yankee Stadium, the place I really remember well the first time I came down the tunnel and saw that stunning baseball field green under the lights. I don’t really remember my first game at the Polo grounds, except that there were a lot of men wearing a tie, even on that Saturday in the Spring.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. When I got into Little League at 8, I thought I’d be an outfielder. I ran real well. And I could catch the ball. But I couldn’t hit hit for crap. So I got put in late for 2 innings, and got an at bat every now and then. Even then, all field, no hit outfielders were a dime a dozen. I struck out a lot. But I walked and learned how to bunt. I loved being on base and getting a chance to run in a real game.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My father convinced me to catch. He assured me that no other guy on the team wanted the job and that I would be able to catch our toughest pitcher, I forget his name, he threw hard, but so often in the dirt. So I got to start and play most every game until the end. I loved that great advice from my coach. Yeah, my father was my first coach.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I loved having 4 older brothers who played to some degree. I learned the intricacies of baseball really early, at the dinner table, in the backyard, when my brothers threw tennis balls at my head, playing stickball on the street, whiffle ball against the garage, reading the box scores every morning. From Spring to Fall, baseball part of daily life. I didn’t realize it, but I loved it.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. If you really get bored you can go out on YouTube and bring up “baseball brawls, bad umpiring, players and managers getting ejected”, and many other fun to watch videos. It keeps me occupied during the latest siege of boredom. One thing I used to do at an early age was collect baseball cards. If only I had them now I’d be pretty well off. I used to have all the starters of the 60 – 61 Yankees. I had at least 3 shoe boxes full of cards. Many years later I was at a base ball card show and was talking to a guy there who had an impressive collection. I told him what I used to have at one time and he got all excited. He asked where were they now and I told him that when we moved from Houston to NC that they all got tossed, put in the spokes of my bicycle, or some other fate (the same with my original Fantastic Four, X-Men, and other original issue comic books. He got angry and said I was stupid I replied its morons like you that mess things up for kids. Yes wish I still had them just as a memento of days gone by. Kind of like my inability to judge a fly ball.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. When I lived in Sacramento, I’d get together with my friend from Livermore and we’d head to Candlestick to watch the Saturday/Sunday games. We’d tailgate in the parking lot with other friends and then sit in the upper deck over the 1st base dugout. We’d buy our food and beer (bottled) from the vendors going up and down the aisles and watch the guys throw bags of peanuts 10 seats over right on target. Always seemed to get sunburned but what a great time it was. Then when the game was over we’d run back down to the car and try to beat the traffic out of the ballpark, across the San Mateo-Hayward and back to Livermore in record time. Not the brightest thing we did but memorable to say the least.

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