I will confess that, by the end of a 162-game season, baseball starts to wear just a little bit. If your team, or even another team you like, makes the playoffs, that can make it exciting again. And even if not, the playoffs usually feature some pretty good baseball; last year’s were really fun to watch, for example.
But at that point it’s been six months of baseball. I have the Fox Sports North cable channel, and between them and Fox Sports, it is possible to watch almost every single Minnesota Twins game. And I do try. (Some weekday day games I can’t watch, of course, but MLB has a Flash app that provides a way to monitor a game in near real-time.)
The flip side is that, come spring I’m cravin’ me some baseball!
Opening day for most teams is usually in very early April (often April 1st). This year the Twins host last year’s almost champs, the Detroit Tigers on April 1st. (Day game, and I’ll definitely be taking that day off!)
And speaking of the Twins, they’re doing pretty well in Spring Training. They are currently 3-2. They lost the first two games, but won the last three. And as I write this they’re kicking Baltimore’s ass, 7-0 as we begin the eighth inning. Pretty sure they’ll end up 4-2, although in baseball you never know.
I was sad to learn that Ben Revere, a player I’ve really enjoyed, was traded to the Phillies. Yeah, okay, he has a weak arm, which is not ideal for an outfielder, but he’s made some amazing highlight reel plays. And there was this amazing bit of base running back in 2011:
I had one of those weird moments of synchronicity today. I’ve been thinking it will be funny and odd to see Revere in a Phillies uniform, but kind of looking forward to seeing him play. Today I turned on the TV to see if there was a Spring Training game on, and there was. Then I noticed it was Braves @ Phillies. “Oh, ho!” I thought, “Maybe I’ll see Ben Revere!”
Then I noticed the batter standing at the plate. It was a long shot, so I couldn’t see his face, but the stance sure looked familiar. “Hey, that kinda looks like him! Wouldn’t that be weird if there he was at bat the moment I turned on the game?” Then he turned so I could see the name on the back of the jersey, and sure enough.
[I'm actually kind of impressed I recognized him from his stance. The coincidence of seeing him the moment I turned on the TV doesn't faze me. That sort of thing happens to me all the time.]
The Twins have also traded Denard Span to the Nationals, but the one I’m especially sad to see traded is Alexi Casilla. As I’ve written about, he was my favorite Twin. Ah, well, such is baseball. Many new faces on the team this year; let’s hope it makes a difference!
The Twins did beat the Orioles today, 7-1. If they can play regular season ball anywhere near that .666 average (what I like to call “demon ball”), this season could be a lot better than the last two. (But I’m not getting my hopes up until I see how things pan out once regular play begins.)
And this year baseball fans get some extra baseball, and it’ll be played on the world stage. This year we get the third World Baseball Classic. The first was in 2006, and the second was in 2009. Both those predate my “rediscovery” (and falling in love with) baseball, so this is the first year I’m really aware of this (let alone planning to watch).
Because the games are played all over the world, the broadcast times are just plain goofy. The first game begins late Friday night, with another game very early Saturday.
A number of Twins will be part of it. Joe Mauer is catching on Team USA, and Glen Perkins is pitching. Justin Morneau is playing for Team Canada (of course), and Drew Butera is on Team Italy. (There are other Twins going as well.)
What is it about baseball? I have some interest in NASCAR, but football, basketball and hockey don’t do a thing for me. (I mean in terms of professional sports. A casual game with friends is a different matter.) I did get into football for a while, but it didn’t last but a season.
Actually, I do know the answer. I know exactly why baseball is the best sport of all, but that will be the subject of a future post (or two (or three)). One hint, though. Both George Carlin and Ken Burns know the answer. If you’ve ever heard Carlin’s excellent bit comparing baseball and football, well, there’s a huge part of the answer right there.
And I’ll leave you with this, another bit of synchronicity. (I’m tellin’ ya: All. The. Time.) The other night flipping channels I surfed into the movie, Moneyball. It’s a great book and movie for baseball fans. The movie edges its way up my rankings every time I see it (three so far).
The synchronous bit is that I happened upon it during a keynote scene (see the YouTube clip below). It’s when Peter Brand (Jonah Hill) shows Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) the clip of Jeremy Brown‘s home run. Brown was a catcher who did well in high school and college, but lasted only one season in the majors. He was a solid guy, not quick, and he was generally lucky to make it on base.
In the clip, Brown gets a good hit, goes for a double, but stumbles and falls rounding first base. He desperately scrambles back to the bag to not be tagged out. And people are laughing. But it turns out they’re laughing with joy. Jeremy had hit a homer! You see the first baseman helping him to his feet and sending him off to round the bases.
Brand shows this clip to Beane, because Beane was feeling defeated. The A’s had, beyond all expectation, made it to the playoffs, only to lose immediately (to the Twins—exactly how the Twins went down to the damn Yankees 1-2-3 in 2010). Brand is trying to show Billy that he’d hit a homer and didn’t even know it.
Billy’s line once that sinks in is, “How can you not be romantic about baseball?”
It’s my favorite line about baseball, ever.
Baseball is a team sport that depends on individuals. And even the worst player can sometimes hit it out of the park. Tell me that isn’t a metaphor for life!
How can you not be romantic about baseball?