I wrote this last year, but with opening day just a few days away, it seemed appropriate.
A few nights ago, I was talking to a friend about the upcoming baseball season when a complete stranger decided to intervene and ask me a question. “Young man, I must ask, why do you love baseball so much? It’s just a sport, after all.” This woman was at least 80, and seemed sweet enough where I didn’t feel any desire to be snarky or rude. I simply sat there for a few seconds, and gave her an extremely weak response: “I just do, ma’am.” I’ve had ample time over the last few days to think about what I should have said; the reasons I actually love baseball. Here’s what I’ve been able to come up with.
I love the smell of fresh cut grass on a beautiful summer evening, but even more on a rainy, cold afternoon. I love driving by a little league game and noticing the base lines are crooked. I love the fact that those lines are crooked because someone’s mother or father volunteered their time to bring together a community. I love the look on a player’s face after he gets robbed of a hit, but I love the look on the defensive player’s face even more. I love the way everyone on the team has a favorite helmet, and it fits their head just right. I love the way fans and players react when an umpire makes a terrible call, but I love the umpires face after this even more.
I love watching a pitcher hit the black, but I love the batter who can take it the other way. I love that something as small as a pebble can ultimately alter the result of not just one play or one game, but an entire season. I love that baseball doesn’t have cheerleaders or dance teams. I love the way my hands smell after trying on new batting gloves, but I love the smell of a freshly oiled glove even more. I love switch hitters. I love aggressive third base coaches, and I love the suicide squeeze. I love the crack of a wooden bat, and the ping of a metal one. I love game 7’s, but I love one-game playoffs even more. I love brushing back a hitter who’s leaning over the plate, but I love a hitter who will take one for the team more.
But, most of all, I love the fact that so many people love this game. Despite listing numerous things I love about this great game, anyone reading this will absolutely instantly mention or think of many, many things I didn’t. However, the next time an 80 year old woman on a Metro Transit Vehicle asks me why I love baseball as much as I do, I think this answer would be much better. I love so many things inside the game of baseball, it’s simply much easier to make a general statement. I love baseball.