Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rehash

In honor of the height of the World Series, I'm posting an article I wrote about baseball several years ago. Feel free to ignore it if you've read it before, or don't care about baseball, or don't care what I think. But if you don't care what I think, why do you read my blog? Weirdo.

Pinko

I consider myself a patriot. I love my country. “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free,” as the hillbilly national anthem goes. With that said, I hate baseball. I really don’t want to be tried for treason, so I’ll change that to I have severe reservations against the playing and viewing of the popularly conceived American Pastime. I mean really, is baseball the American Pastime? How many of you say “I’ve got 15 minutes to kill, let’s go play baseball? Television is the American Pastime. Or eating cereal. Or playing Solitaire. On the computer of course, not using real cards; that takes too long, involves remembering the correct setup, and tempts you to cheat. Why do I dislike baseball so much? What did it ever do to me? Let me tell you.

Baseball discriminates against nonathletes more than any other sport. I suppose I can’t say any sport with much certainty since I’ve only played 3 sports, but it discriminates more than basketball and poker. And poker is a sport; it’s on ESPN. Of course by nonathletes I mean those that stink at sports, either through a lack of practice or natural inability to move in any coordinated manner. That is to say, me. I suck at sports, all sports, including poker. If I learned anything from “physical education” in elementary school, it’s this: the most important thing at sports isn’t whether you’re good or bad, but whether people can tell if you’re good or bad. When you’re playing basketball you can get lucky and make some shots when you have absolutely no skill. Getting the large ball in the large hoop which is relatively close to you happens a lot more often by chance than hitting that tiny ball flying past you with a piece of wood. When you stink at basketball your teammates can compensate. They can ignore you for most of the game then only pass you the ball when they’re winning by several dozen points. They can even ignore you for the entire game, call you Handicap and leave you behind at the church when they go out for victory Slurpies. Or so I’ve heard. If your second baseman sucks you can’t just ignore him. You can’t just say “Just pass it to third, we’ll just pretend there is no second base.” Well you can, but the other team is going to get the hint, start running straight from first to third and the pitcher is going to get run over in the cross traffic. When you suck at football, it doesn’t really matter, because there’s a billion other players on the field and no one will ever notice. When you suck at volleyball it doesn’t matter because so does everyone else and no none really knows the rules anyway. In hockey you’re considered mediocre if you can stay upright on the ice. Alright, I lied: I’ve played sports other than basketball and poker. I just pretend I’ve never heard of other sports so when I get roped into playing I can pretend it’s my first time and have an excuse for sucking.

In baseball the most enjoyable part, batting, takes the least time and is the hardest to do. Now, I acknowledge that a large part of my animosity towards baseball comes from the fact that I am horrible at it. But even if I were good at it, I think I’d hate being on the field. How fun is playing left field? You stand there, squint, pretend you can see what’s going on at home plate, and pretend that you have some impact on the outcome of the game. I really should bring my cards out with me so I can play Solitaire, except for the fact I can’t remember how to set up the cards and I cheat. I could practice my poker too, except for the fact that I’m standing in the middle of a field, by myself. Even if the Right field guy were closer, he got put in the outfield so is obviously unpopular, perhaps even more so than myself. So I just practice my poker face, which I could be doing in my nice comfortable, air conditioned home. The only fun thing is batting. So I endure all the card playing in the outfield, then more card playing on the bench waiting to bat, then finally I’m up. About 20 seconds later I’ve struck out and back on the bench. For some players it takes longer than 20 seconds to strike out, but not for me. I’ve waited all this time, being bored doing something I suck at, for 20 seconds of being excited and still sucking. How are you supposed to hit that ball? It’s tiny, breaking the speed limit, and I’m not even allowed to use my actual body to hit it. I have to hit it with a stick. At least I know I have enough coordination to get my body to hit the ball. I’ve played dodgeball, I know how to connect a body and a ball. So this should really be my strategy. Get hit, get myself some battle scars, which supposedly chicks dig, and walk to first base.

Baseball reminds me of getting shot. I’m not saying I’d rather shoot myself than play baseball, I’d rather do most anything than shoot myself. I’m just saying the actual sport fundamentally disturbs me because I feel like I’m getting shot at. The baseball is the smallest ball of any sport. I’m not considering the golf ball because it ruins my point, and because while poker is a sport, golf isn’t. Funny pants, golf carts, and being popular among old and rich people, don’t get me started. It’s not as bad as figure skating, but doesn’t have the scantily-clad women to redeem it. So this tiny ball is thrown as fast as possible in my direction. It’s traveling much faster than any other object I regularly have to deal with. Usually things traveling at pitching speeds, such as free-way traffic, trains, the space shuttle etc, are to be avoided. They have big signs saying “Stay away from this area, or you’ll probably die.” But not in baseball. You need to stand right there next to the bullet-like object. You need to try to connect with the bullet-shaped object. It goes against all the bullet dodging instincts action movies have installed in me. Baseball’s really the only sport where I fear being killed. Getting fouled in basketball might hurt, but I won’t die. The football won’t injure me. The people following it might, but we’d have padding, or be playing touch football, where no one ever gets tackled (right.) A hockey puck would hurt, but again, I’d have my Kevlar padding in place. But not in baseball. Did I say my strategy would be to get hit by that ball of death and get to walk to first? Maybe I should reconsider.

Perhaps baseball’s worst sin is making me use my left hand. Get it? Left hand in Latin is sinistra, which is also used for wrong or evil. I love Latin jokes. My left hand is completely useless. I make fun of my whole body, but in actuality everything I’ve ever accomplished with my body has been with the right side. Those complete luck shots in basketball? My right hand. Punching my little brother while “boxing?” My right hand. My left hand is completely ineffective. I don’t know if it’s a Democrat or what, but for some reason I’ve never been able to use my left side as well as my right. And in baseball they want me to catch the aforesaid bullet-ball with my left hand. They do give me a glove which gives my fingers a bigger surface area and webbing between them, which helps. But my Creature from the Black Lagoon hand is even more uncoordinated than my unfettered right hand. When are they going to stop making sports that require me to properly use several parts of my body at once?

Theoretically I’d like to be better at baseball. But this would require practice. I’ve got to tell you, I don’t even have time to play all the video games I own, let alone all the new ones I buy. I don’t really have time to practice something that I currently dislike and may very well hate even when I’m good at it. But even if I built up the motivation to go practice, it’s very difficult to do on your own. It’s hard enough to get people together to play a scheduled game. Pickup baseball just doesn’t work. Twenty people don’t just show up at a field without a significant effort. Baseball just requires too many players. It’s far too bureaucratic. Three on three baseball, now that’d be awesome. But it’s hard to find people to play, and it’d be even tougher to find people to pity-practice with me. You can’t really practice much on your own: I’ve tried that throwing the ball in the air and swinging thing. For one thing, it requires using my left hand. For another, the pitcher is never going to be standing over my head and dropping the ball straight down towards the plate. It’d be easier that way, but I think baseball would lose whatever appeal it has. I suppose I could ask someone to pitch to me so I could practice, but pitchers are almost as popular as quarterbacks, and I don’t know those kinds of people. Plus with just the two of us there he could miss and peg me in the head, and I’d likely die. At least at a game people would see it and I’d get a nice funeral. If we were alone he’d just panic and run to Mexico, there’d be no justice, and I’d end up haunting the baseball field and sitting in left field for all of eternity.

So we’ve established why I dislike playing baseball. In all honesty I’ve made most of that up, because I don’t often play baseball, since I hate it. But as a certified couch potato I feel I am qualified to rant about how bad baseball is to watch. For starters, it’s boring. It’s the most boring sport ever created. Sure they only score once an hour in soccer, but they’re always doing something. You can see people running around, doing bicycle kicks and admire the beauty of dreadlocks flapping in the wind. Plus the female players seem intent on taking their shirts off now. Basketball’s fast. Hockey’s fast. Football is fast, then nothing, then fast, then nothing, but they’ve got flashy graphics and commentary to fill the time. Baseball is slow. You can tell it’s 110 degrees by how slow everyone moves. It’s a little more entertaining when you’re actually at the field and you have the horribly fattening ball park food to eat and idiotic mascots to laugh at. But then you can’t change the channel after 3 minutes when you realize nothing is happening. You have to understand that baseball is a sport where half the players are standing around and want nothing to happen (on the field), and the other half are standing around, doing nothing, only hoping something will happen (on the bench). Only the pitcher and catcher are actually doing something. Everyone else is just hoping and desiring. Some say that hope and desire are what makes the game special. I say hope and desire aren’t much fun to watch, unless it’s sinful desiring, which rarely occurs in baseball. The only thing that would make baseball exciting is putting money on the game, in which case you feel dumb if you lose and feel guilty if you win.

Well I suppose most of you think I’m a Communist Pinko now. But I say you can love America and not it’s Pastime. And baseball’s not that bad; there are worse things. I’ve mentioned golfing and figure skating. There’s also Dungeons and Dragons. How about the Bubonic Plague, that’s certainly worse. Baseball’s just not for me. When we’re all in the Celestial Kingdom and have perfect bodies, I’ll give baseball another try. That is unless baseball tryouts are part of entrance into the Celestial Kingdom, in which case I’m screwed. But I’ll really be happier playing poker in the Terrestrial Kingdom than solitaire in the Celestial. Hope to see you there.

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