6 oct. 2011


I don't spend hours watching baseball games. I don't have a tv in Kansas, for one thing. Nor do I follow the progress of the regular season. I just don't care enough about any particular team or player. I do like a few things about baseball, though. I totally get the attractions of the sport.

Purity. I like the separation between the game and everyday life, the way it has its own terms that must be respected. This might be true for any game, but I feel it particularly with baseball. Purity is an absolute illusion, but a comforting one.

Situation. I like that, at any moment in the game, there is definable situation. It is the bottom of the seventh. The home team is behind by one run. There are two outs and a runner at first. The count is two and one. The next batter up is a left-handed power hitter... You can even "watch" baseball on the radio, since the situation counts for so much. Football has this situational aspect too, unlike fluid games (soccer, basketball, hockey) in which the situation is always more or less the same: one team has the ball for a while and is trying to score.

Duels. I like the contest between the pitcher and hitters. It is situationally complex, especially if there are base-runners and a secondary duel involving an effort to keep a runner from advancing.

Excitement against a backdrop of tedium. The normal mood of a game is tense tedium. Most of the players are doing absolutely nothing at any given time, either waiting to bat or standing out in the field waiting for a ball to be hit to them. When something happens, it happens very quickly. Most at-bats end in the failure of the batter. A large percentage of runners are stranded. Scoring is relatively difficult and requires patience.

Nuance, expertise. I like it that the game is opaque or dull to someone without some level of familiarity. I am far from an expert, but I do like those finer points.

4 comentarios:

Vance Maverick dijo...

"Situation" and "excitement against a backdrop of tedium" are closely related -- it's the situation that makes the tedium tense, and the excitement consists in the sudden resolution of one situation into another.

Jonathan dijo...

Right, but the situation can shift incrementally without dramatics. A 1-1 count is suddenly a 3-1. Really good pitching is tense but results in little action. Exciting baseball with lots of hitting and mistakes is less impressive than defensive duels.

Spanish prof dijo...

Brilliant! I still don't know every rule in baseball (so I embarrassed my husband quite often while we are watching a game at the bar). But you articulate why I am drawn to it anyway. I discovered it once in a game my team was playing: they went into overtime, and in the 13th inning they lost 12 - 7.

Andrew Shields dijo...

The contrast between the situation game and the flow game is really sharp.

Might tennis be seen as a bit of both?