Sunday, June 2, 2013

Dear People Who Call Baseball Boring

It's been my experience that those that can't enjoy baseball tend to use the same tired excuse: it's too slow.  It's also been my experience that these people are also the same people that complain at being bored and need constant stimulants.  I don't want to generalize, and I don't want to sound superior.  I have plenty of flaws, but you will rarely here me say that I am bored. 

I hear the complaints that the players are spoiled millionaires, and don't deserve admiration.  There are some that carry that label, but so many others start charities and work hard to use their fortune and status to help others.  In anything there will be those to admire, and those to abhor, so that argument doesn't hold water for me. 

To be a fan is to know when a call has been blown, when a certain pitcher should be brought in instead of another, and which hitter you want up in any given situation.  To be a fan is to be able to meet someone you've never met before that is wearing your team's clothing, and to be able to talk like old friends.  I sat in a cigar store in Northfield, New Jersey in 2009 when the Phillies first signed Cliff Lee.  Me and ten guys I had never met high fived, hugged and gushed like fanboys about how we were destined for another World Series.  Cliff was ours now, he was one of us, and we were thrilled. 

What you need to understand is that it isn't about the watching of baseball.  It is about community, about being a part of something bigger that yourself.  We baseball fans form an allegiance with a team, and form an alliance with that team's fans.  We join together in the stadium, in our cars, in front of our televisions, and we hang on every pitch.  The broadcasters become your friends, and you their confidants.  If they are around long enough, they become a member of your family.   My father will tell me to put Larry on when we are working on something, and I know he means for me to put the Phillies radio station on so we can listen to Larry Andersen's color commentary.  The day Harry Kalas died, millions in the Delaware Valley lost a close friend.  He was the voice that came across every car radio at rush hour, every television at dinnertime, and every radio in ever kitchen.  To get baseball, to love baseball, you need to buy in completely.  If you can't do that, you'll never enjoy it.

My father has always understood this, and he taught me.  He doesn't have a favorite television show, because that would mean that he might feel compelled to watch that instead of the Phillies game.  He learned from his mother, my grandmother.  She understood, as she sat in the gazebo my grandfather built in their small backyard, that a baseball game coming over the radio on a summer afternoon isn't the worst thing you can do to be happy.  Later he learned that baseball can help us forget as he and his seven brothers and sisters, and all their kids sat in the hospital as his father was recovering from a heart attack.  We sat in the hall with a little radio, listening to a game that ultimately went 22 innings, and ended at 4:30 in the morning.  My mother understands too, as she cries tears of elation in our living room after the Phillies win the World Series in 2008.  She learned from her parents, who would vacation in Florida, conveniently during spring training, so they could catch the games and meet the players. 

My uncle Dave understood as well.  He asked for the game to be on the television in his hospital room, even though the Phillies have been awful lately.  He still had to watch, even if they were bound to lose.   Uncle Dave passed away last night, after the Phillies lost after an embarrassing blown call in the 9th.  He missed them win this afternoon after an impressive burst of offense in the first two innings, but he'd be happy to know they pulled it off.  That's why we watch, for those moments that make us happy when there isn't much else that can.  Uncle Dave got that, and it will make me miss him more.


  1. I hear you, but everything you just described applies equally to all other sports... the camaraderie of fellow fans, knowledge of the intricacies of the game and the roster, passion, etc.

    I'm a sports fan, and i've been to scores of baseball games, mostly Nationals games, far more than other sports. But baseball will never be as exciting as football or basketball because it is slower, less physical, and lower-scoring. also because of inning breaks, long delays between pitches, etc. Baseball is fine, but other sports are just more exciting.

  2. I get it. And I'm a huge hockey fan (NHL, AHL, National team, my son's travel team), a football fan, and a fan of many other sports. But I was raised in baseball. I get it.

  3. Baseball bores me partially because I don't really care, don;t know any players, the rules can be quirky, and honestly, if you don't drink... ho nelly. There is an episode of The Simpson's where Homer goes to a game sober, yeah it's like that for 3 hours. It's like religion; if you didn't have it, you won't want it. Same reason why I'm not a die hard member of a Hindu temple, why would I be? Same reason I don't care about Manchester United.

    Mostly, Baseball would cut into shows I wanted to watch because it never ends ever.

    -Captain Chris


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