How to Fall in Love: Getting Past First Base
Ha! The suggestive title worked! Now that I’ve got you reading this, let me ask: Are you a diehard baseball fan? If so, look to the right of your screen, press the Large Pizza & Garlic Bread ad, and immediately head for The Hub because it’s playoff time! If not, read on, and I will convince you why it is important to love baseball and how you can do so even with your absurdly over-committed CMC schedule. First off, let me just say that I get it. Baseball is slow. It’s boring. It’s hard to fall in love with. But here’s the case for baseball and why it’s worth the effort.
Like all good things, falling in love with baseball takes time. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
Baseball isn’t promiscuous like other sports. It doesn’t have the cheerleader cleavage of the NFL, the flashy dunks of the NBA, the nightly fistfights of the NHL, or the constant ruckus of European soccer stadiums.
Those sports are great, and all of them are fun to watch–but Baseball is subtler. It’s not about the game, but instead, it's about the season. It’s about averages. It's about endurance. Baseball needs time to develop.
And that’s why falling in love is difficult. You want the thrill of your old sport–but you realize that it was only a one-game stand. Baseball is different. It’s less like TNC and more like getting a puppy.
Once you fall in love with baseball it becomes a part of your identity.
And it only takes three easy steps.
How to Love Baseball
Step 1: Pick a team
Baseball isn’t like other sports. You can’t just sit down on your couch on a random Sunday, grab a bag of salsa verde Doritos, and turn on whatever game is playing. Do this, and—I swear to you—within five minutes you’ll be flipping rapidly through the channels looking for the latest Teen Mom re-run. No. First, you must pick a team—one that you care about. Pick any team—pick a local team, or pick one that your friend likes, or pick the San Francisco Giants (because they are the best). I don’t care, just pick one.
Step 2: Get to know your team
Invest just a few minutes. Get to know who is on your team. Learn a little about them. Pick a favorite player and learn something about him. Baseball is about the players as much as it is about the game itself. Pick one who seems interesting, or, if you’d rather, pick one who you think is cute. It doesn’t matter. Just learn one or two things about him—if he's struggling, if he's coming back from an injury, if he just got a DUI or just had a child, or if he is an avid Red Hot Chili Peppers fan. Most teams have bloggers who follow them at Baseball Nation, so that is a good place to start if you’re looking for inside information.
Step 3: Follow your team
Some hardcore fans will call this an apostasy, but you heard it here: You don’t really need to watch all that many games to become a baseball fan. Anyone who tells you he or she watches every minute of every game, all season, is lying. Especially for the absurdly over-involved CMCer who can’t spend all day every Sunday watching games instead of doing homework, baseball is a much more manageable love affair.
Watch a few innings of various games here or there. Go, every once in a while, to a game with friends. Read part of a recap in the paper. Next time you go for late-night chicken tenders, stop to watch a snippet of SportsCenter. You only need to do it once in a while, but—and this is important—you need to do it for a whole season.
Because that’s where the drama unfolds.
Why People Love Baseball
“Every April, they're here. At 1:05 or at 7:05, there is a game. And if it gets rained out, guess what? They make it up to you. Does anyone else in your life do that? The Red Sox don't get divorced. This is a real family. This is the family that's here for you.”
(Case in point: The Red Sox won the World Series that year. Drew Barrymore just got married for the third time.)
Baseball is the most exciting reality TV show you’ll ever watch, and it plays out for you all summer, every year. For six months–seven if you’re lucky enough to make the playoffs–you can count on baseball. When your date cancels on you (CMCer: “People date?”), when your friends abandon you, or when you want to procrastinate, there it is, waiting for you at the front door like that trusty, old Labrador retriever with a ball in his mouth.
For example: My sister is a diehard Giants fan. She is so busy finishing her tough high school schedule and college applications that she hardly ever watches the games, but she can tell you that Buster Posey had twins last August, is coming off of an injury, and is a leading candidate for this year’s MVP. Or that Pablo Sandoval is struggling to lose weight. Or that Angel Pagan was terrible earlier this year, but he has carried the team since Melky got busted for steroids. She probably couldn’t recite the nine-player lineup for any other team. She doesn’t care what the infield-fly rule is. She doesn’t go for the complicated new Saber-metric statistics like WAR, VORP, or OPS. She doesn’t care.
But she and her friends talk about the Giants. All the time.
They go to games together.
They make up nicknames for the players.
And they follow the team all summer long.
My sister loves the Giants, and she always will, and it makes her life better.
Just like it makes mine better.
Baseball is slow. It’s supposed to be. In fact, that’s what makes it great.
Give it a shot. Invest some time.
Fall in love with baseball; you won’t be sorry you did.