I know, I know. Baseball is a boring game. It is a game in which its most prestigious offensive forces are considered elite when they fail seven out of ten times. It is a game in which a seventh inning stretch is needed due to the lack of events to jump the fan out of their seat. Outside of Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout, only rarely is there a showcase of athletic excellence. Unless you count Bartolo Colon‘s impression of Billy Hamilton as a showcase of athleticism at its highest form. In case you were wondering, I would certainly count it.
It is a game that has no time limit, and in today’s instant gratification frame of mind, that is a problem. Games on average last upwards of three to four hours on a daily basis and there is a firm belief amongst the media that baseball must find a way to speed themselves up. It is not a secret that baseball is beginning to lose out on the millennial generation from an interest standpoint. Sports such as soccer are starting to nip at their heels due to the fact that it is a sport with a set time limit, and allows their players to showcase an awe-inspiring array of athleticism.
Everything that I have stated above may be true, and even I will admit that I have been out of touch with the game over the past couple of years. However, there is a key point that most choose to neglect when they talk about baseball’s future. That point being that it is much more than a silly little game. How is that? Take a trip with me to Yankee Stadium…
Last Wednesday I accompanied my dad to baseball’s greatest cathedral, Yankee Stadium (I should make it be known now that I was raised as a die-hard Yankee fan. Please refrain from exiting this article.), to watch the Yankees take on the Detroit Cy Youngs (Tigers). I went into the stadium knowing that it would be my last opportunity to see Derek Jeter, my hero (yeah, like he’s not everyone’s hero by now), play in front of a home crowd. After the uncontrollable sobs came and went, I decided to soak in as much of the experience as I could. This is where the more than a game thing came in.
As I marveled at the fact that I was sitting in Yankee Stadium, I noticed the unique fan to player interaction that only baseball can provide. In between long tossing with recently acquired Chase Headley in front of the Yankee dugout, Jeter would smile and wave to the fans, knowing that most of them were there to see him. At the conclusion of this illustrious game of catch, Jeter turned and tossed the ball to a little girl in the stands. A life long memory was made. Do I wish I was the one making that memory instead of that little girl? No…
As the game went on, more instances of baseball-only nuances made my inner fandom feel all tingly inside. For those that are unfamiliar, Yankee fans have this thing called a “role-call” where they chant the name of every starting fielder in the first inning until that player acknowledges them. To be fair, it had much more flair when the Yankees were fielding a star-studded roster rather than a roster scrapped together mostly at the trade deadline. However, the “DER-EK JET-A” chant always gets me.
By the time the game had concluded, I tallied at least twenty instances of ladies ranging from ages ten to fifty-five holding signs proclaiming their love for the Yankee captain, ten instances of fans forming a near mutiny to recover a foul ball that had found its way into the stands and forty thousand plus fans singing Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York celebrating a Yankee victory. How could you not love this game?
My point being with all of this is that baseball is much more than just a game. It is the celebration of the bond between a father and a son and the interaction between a future Hall of Famer and an admiring fan. You could even make an argument for the bond between a hot dog vendor and the Average Joe fan sitting in the upper deck. A mutual respect is forever present within baseball.
While exiting Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, I looked up to my dad and thanked him for the tickets and the experience we had just had together. Little did I realize that I had just fallen in love with the game all over again.