Monthly Archives: February 2010

Baseball


Way off topic post that I began writing around the last World Series in October 2009.

Why do you like it?‘ is the most recurrent question I get from my European friends and most in Mexico. The easy and short answer is because my dad got me into it since he likes it too. But what makes me keep on liking it? In few words I like it because it is complex. I realize other sports may be even more complicated, like cricket for instance, but I wasn’t in touch with them while growing up. The interest in Baseball within my family dates back all the way to my great grandfather who played semi-pro ball in the western town of Guadalajara. My dad played in the major amateur league in Mexico and I had a short and pitiful career in little league.

Baseball has many rules and exceptions according to context. The best example is the strikeout: everyone knows it’s three strikes and you’re out! but this is only true if the catcher gets the third strike in his glove, otherwise the runner might get on base while the strikeout still counts for the pitchers record. You have to really be into baseball to know what a ‘fielder’s choice’ is and why is it different from a normal base hit.

It is a weird sport: The weight of the ball is calibrated; there are rigid standards for the bats manufacturing; the shape and size of each base is regulated and the distance between the edge of one and the edge of the next one is 90 feet, no more no less. However, the dimensions of the outfield vary from one ballpark to other and basically no ballpark is symmetrical! Some have tall fences like Fenway in Boston or even an uneven field like Busch Stadium in St. Louis which has a small slope by center field!  From the most common sports I think baseball is the only one in which the shape and dimensions of the ‘off-limits’ grounds affect the development of a match: A fly ball on foul territory can still be caught by a fielder to put the batter out; now, if this happens in Oakland Alameda County Coliseum the batter has lower probabilities of staying alive than in Yankee stadium or in Wrigley Field, since the space between the foul line and the stands in these last two stadiums is much smaller. Therefore there are some stadiums in which batting averages drop as a consequence of foul batting. In turn these stadiums offer a better chance for pitchers.

Another thing I like about baseball, is the fact that it is more unpredictable than other sports like soccer, in which a 2 or 3 goals difference is basically insurmountable! aside from historical reasons this is why the World Series is played to win four out of seven games, in which sweeps are rare. Also as opposed to soccer, the leading team can’t fold back and play only defense; they have to keep on pitching to their adversaries!

I admit that baseball is more slow paced than many other sports but I find that thrilling. Every sport has its fans and supporters, I just happen to love baseball and I will keep on

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