Monday, June 29, 2009

Baseball Buzzkill

I face the same issue every July - the Baseball Blues. It's not because my favorite team (the Chicago Cubs) perpetually stink. It's not because I think baseball is boring, or even because of all the cheating that goes on in the game. What it boils down to is:

I don't understand it.

I comprehend the rules of the game. I know how to keep score on an overpriced ballpark program. Ground rule doubles, double steals, and unassisted double plays are all within my wheelhouse. I can even articulate the infield fly rule if need be.

It's all the other junk I don't understand.


  • If a batter admires a home run longer than a pitcher feels is appropriate, the pitcher is within his rights to throw his next pitch at the batter.
  • When turning a 6-4-3 double play (outs at 2nd & 1st base), the second baseman doesn't have to touch the base to get the runner out. He just has to be close enough to the bag. However, if the first baseman's foot leaves the base, the runner is safe.
  • It's permissible to eat food in the dugout and chew tobacco on the field of play and still be called an athlete
  • A baserunner can be called out for running too far outside the base paths, but is allowed to plow over a catcher in an attempt to pry the ball from the catcher's glove at home base.
  • Only 4 major league baseball players have a college degree.

And, finally, my biggest frustration with the game of baseball.

These are the dimensions of all 30 major league baseball fields. Notice how no two are alike? The distance a ball must travel to be a home run varies from park to park, as well as in different points of the stadium. There are also varying heights of the outfield walls in each place. Many are 8 feet tall...others, like Wrigley Field, are 11.5 feet...and the famous Green Monster in left field of Boston's Fenway Park is 37'2".

How does any of that make sense?

The area of competition in almost every other sport is a uniform size. Football, soccer, basketball, hockey, swimming, track & field, volleyball. All of the athletes in these sports can hone their skill on one locale and know their abilities will translate to all other arenas. The exceptions include tennis (clay / grass / concrete surfaces, but the same court dimensions), auto racing (which isn't really a sport), and golf (unlike any other major sport in that there is no expectation of uniformity between courses...and it's not played in a stadium).

I can't really enjoy following baseball for the same reason I can't really enjoy following gymnastics: too many subjective variables. That said, I'll probably still get pumped up for the pennant chases in August and September and stay up late to watch the World Series in October...but I won't be as excited as when basketball and football make their triumphant return!

(For more on this, watch the scene in Hoosiers where the team enters the enormous Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. Noticing the small-town team was intimidated, Coach Dale asks his players to measure the height of the hoop and the length of a free throw. "I believe you'll find the exact same measurements in the gym back in Hickory." Of course they is a normal game!)


  1. I hate baseball. But if I would say that around these parts I may or may not get beat up. And what are you saying...Manny Ramirez doesn't have a college degree? Simply Stunning


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