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America’s Pastime

Ah, the grass has been cut, the lines drawn, dirt smoothed over.  It’s time once again for baseball to take its place as the national pastime.  Football, move over, for it’s time for Jeter, A-Rod, “Doc” Halladay, Manny being Manny.  As I write this, it’s about an hour till the President throws out the first pitch at historic Fenway Park.  This is arguably the greatest sports week of the year:  men’s and women’s final four, baseball starting, NBA and NHL playoff races, and The Masters golf tournament.  But nothing ever signals the start of spring like baseball.

For those who grew up playing catch or little league, you know what I’m talking about.  It was about dusting off the gloves, hopping on your bike and going to the neighborhood park with your friends.  Not that it’s a bad thing, but the sport has been commoditized so much over the years.  Salaries have gone up, television coverage and packages are endless, and don’t even get me started on fantasy baseball.  I’m excited to see all the powerhouses come back into our set, but that only lasts for about the first two weeks.  After all, the 162 game season is not only taxing on the players but also on the viewer as well.  I only care about opening day and how the onset of the season is going as well as the hunt for October when the playoff race gets interesting.  I don’t blame the middle of the season on anyone…it’s just the way it is.  I would say that I am a fan of a particular team (the A’s) but I also like watching the powerhouses duke it out.

I wouldn’t call myself a fairweather fan, I just like seeing the superstars play.  In a way, I am an elitist in that I want the high payroll teams to make the playoffs (Yankees, Red Sox, Angels).  In baseball, you can pretty much buy your team, especially since the new collective bargaining agreement has re-tailored the revenue sharing.  Much of this salary can be offset by selling television rights to FOX, TNT/TBS, ESPN, and their respective satellite providers.  While it is America’s pastime, it still ranks second to the NFL.  But if you’re a number-crunchy stats guy like me, baseball fits your intellectual mind.  How one guy might hit on a Tuesday mid-afternoon game against a certain field is just many of the things that can affect the outcome of a game.  It’s just the smallest nuances that make a huge difference which is what makes baseball more of an art form than a sport/game.

While it’s nice to be able to watch the game on television in HD, it’s even better in person.  There’s nothing like going to the game, keeping score, and having a dog and beer.  If you looked up “America” that would be one of the pictures.  Those things have been handed down for many generations and will continue with the next ones.  If you’re not a baseball person, then I’ll save you the trouble.  Phillies defeat the Yankees in 6 to win the 2010 World Series.

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