|The lore of baseball|
by Dan MacRae
Baseball is a sport that rewards the nerdy. This may explain why its core fan base is made up of indie-rockers, Civil War re-enactors, and old people. As a result, I, and many of my nerdy co-workers at the Carillon Sports HQ (this means you, Geiger) are getting all sweaty and weird about spring training. If you haven't watched base- ball since that obnoxious 12-year-old kicked ass with his super (cheating) pitching arm in Rookie of the Year, now's the time to come back into the fold. The main stumbling block that non-fans have about baseball is that it's boring, and anyone with half a pulse has to concede that to be true. Baseball can be a slow, deliberate process, but the spin off of that is the details. That's in part how tradition and obsession is bred. The slow pace of the sport enhances the sense of anticipation, but it also gives you time to analyze and enjoy taking in the game's most trivial elements. There's a reliability in the details that is absolutely critical for the game's enjoyment. This is why people hate Raphael Palmeiro, but couldn't give a needle-shaped shit about Shawne Merriman. While other sports can change their rules on a year-by-year basis, baseball fans will still get into vicious slap fights over the DH rule. If managers no longer wore uniforms, there would be riots. Perhaps some of these nuances can only be picked up from seeing baseball live. There has been no sport- ing event I cherish seeing live more than a completely meaningless game at the glorified parking lot known as the Metrodome, where the Minnesota Twins hosted the Cleveland Indians. There's something encoded in the DNA that makes hearing the crack of the bat one of the sweetest sounds on Earth. Live baseball has the market cornered on studied heckling, cine- matic atmosphere, and drinking being integral to the process. Some sports have a booze-fueled quality (soccer's has the fun trade-off of possibly get- ting shanked by a Glasgow skinhead for looking the wrong way), but there's a civilized beery esthetic to baseball that is strangely comforting. Seeing a game live with an overpriced hotdog and the smell of the chew in the air is even more intoxicating. Another secret part of baseball's appeal comes from the assumption that you (the spectator) could do it. I could never picture myself dunking over Shaq, or trying to play quarter- back and not getting knocked the fuck out, but could I see myself batting .260 and playing right field for the Mariners? Sure, why not. I know in my brain that I'm a terrible athlete and wouldn't get to bat boy level, but when the sport's most celebrated players spend more time being drunks than practicing, it's legitimate to ask, "why not me?" There isn't even a handsomeness requirement. Have you ever seen Otis Nixon? The dude looks like a California Raisin with its face smashed in. The scary thing is that even he's better looking than Randy Johnson. Next week the Carillon is running a section full of "Hooray! Baseball's here!" articles, and this column is a lit- tle bit of leadoff for it. I'm not Tom Cruise with an E-Meter, but if you need a mentor, I have no problem tak- ing converts under my wing. Unless you have a face like Randy Johnson.