With the Seattle Mariners just one game out of first place in the American League West, my mind has turned to America’s pastime.
Do you love baseball? Many Americans do. In fact, most Americans like football and basketball, but they love baseball.
Baseball has been a part of the American way of life for over 150 years.
Not only do Americans like baseball, but did you know that baseball is the most popular sport in Japan? It was introduced there in 1872.
Other countries such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, South Korea and Cuba all love baseball. I also learned that countries such as Japan and South Korea have special chants for each of their favorite players.
I am sure it gets really loud in those ball parks.
Going to a Major League Baseball game is a rare treat. The fans, the hot dogs, the popcorn, the drinks and the just plain fun of being there is a very cool experience. Also, what other sport do you know that plays over 162 games a season? Baseball is also played for six months. Compare that to the NFL, which offers 17 games a season, or the NBA, which offers 82 games a season.
Baseball doesn’t have cheerleaders and there is no set time limit to the game. There are no periods, no quarters — baseball is relaxed and blithe. You can get a hot dog, or a cold drink at the concession stand, come back and not miss much.
Even though the odds of you catching a fly or foul ball is one in 1,000, fans actually get to keep the ball as a memento. In football or basketball, fans don’t get to keep a ball, nor do they even get one.
Baseball has its exciting moments as well.
The incredible catch and the awesome home run. Football has the long run or the end-zone catch. Basketball has the slam dunk or half-court shot. I know I’m a little biased here, but these don’t come close to the home run. No wonder the home run is used as a metaphor for all things positive.
The beauty of baseball is it requires no prior experience to play the game.
Rules are simple and not that hard to understand. What skills do you need to play baseball? Good hand-eye coordination and keeping an eye on the ball.
I remember my Little League baseball coaches telling us “good eye” when at bat, which meant we were able to determine if a pitch was a ball or a strike.
I was often delegated to right outfield where the ball hardly came to — which was a good thing, because after getting smacked in the face a few times, I realized just how hard the balls were. We always played on dirt, with no grass to slow the ball down. So ground balls came fast and furious.
We were also told to “chatter” when on defense. Our coaches would tell us, “I want to hear some chatter out there boys.”
Chattering meant trying to get the batter to swing by shouting, “hey batta, batta, swing,” or “three up, three down, here we go now.” My favorite part, other than playing, was after the game mom and dad treated me to a snow cone. I got the snow cone every time, even if I didn’t play so well.
Baseball uniforms are colorful and reflect pride in the community and local demographic. They are cool looking and are statements. Ball caps are fashion statements, political statements, loyalty statements, statements about what you like and don’t like.
I wear ball caps all the time when not at work. Some of my favorites are the teams I follow in all sports, not just baseball.
Wow. This all makes me want to go to a Mariners or Rainiers game. What about you? Maybe I’ll see you at the ball game.
Richard Stride is the current CEO of Cascade Community Healthcare. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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