Baseball has hidden complexity

Sparta /
| 20 Apr 2024 | 04:09

    It is called America’s pastime, but there are many today who will dispute that.

    Football, and the NFL with its Super Bowl, is mounting a claim of its own.

    Baseball is the game you can play whether you are 5 foot 1 or 6 foot 10. All you need is to find a Louisville Slugger and a ball to hit, and you are ready to go. Of course, you also must have fielders or you will do a lot of chasing on your own.

    People today will say baseball is boring. They say the game is too slow. But George Will, a famed columnist and avid fan, claims - accurately - that baseball is a very fast game that comes in spurts when the ball is in play. Episodes he called them. Baseball is a game of episodes rather than flow.

    But the charm of the game eludes those who only wait for “something to happen.” A lot goes on under their radar. There is no “down time” for the fan between pitches.

    There are hundreds of records kept on each player, reflecting the potential for just about every circumstance he might face. The casual fan has no knowledge or interest in these records, but the true fan knows.

    The true fan revels in the hidden complexity that lends spice to the game. The enchantment of baseball eludes the casual or un-interested. Fans just don’t watch the game - they live it. This may mean nothing to the uninitiated, but it gives one some awareness of what may be going through a fan’s mind when you think he is only concentrating on eating his hot dog.

    No other game has the history that baseball offers. The “dead ball era” was replaced in the 1920s by Babe Ruth’s mighty bat ushering in today’s “live ball era.’

    Players, such as Ty Cobb, Satchel Page, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Bonehead Freddy Merkle and Honus Wagner, are still remembered in Cooperstown 100 years after their playing days.

    Jack “Jackie” Roosevelt Robinson helped to change the nation. And the Chicago “Black Sox” will continue to live in infamy. There is no other game that captures the spirit and history of the American story as does baseball.

    No other sport captured kids’ interest in cards that were traded, flipped or hoarded as special possessions. No other sport has generated so many heated discussions about who was the better player - every fan had a favorite.

    No other game offers kids from so many sandlots and economic strata the dream of one day playing in “the Big Leagues.” No other sport draws fathers and their children closer than playing catch or talking about the fortunes of their favorite team No other sport reflects the pathos of the human spirit better than the immortal poem entitled, “Casey at the Bat.”

    Times change, but don’t give up on baseball. Baseball will always be America’s pastime. Fans will see to it.

    The bases will always be 90 feet apart; pitchers will always try to outwit batters; kids will still have a baseball “mitt” sometime in their young lives; and adults will still live or die with the fortunes of their team.

    Millions will continue watching and playing that simple, and yet so complicated, home-grown game that I’ve just tried to tell you about. It’s not slow, it’s not boring. You just need the time, and the interest, to learn and understand that “All is good when ball meets wood.”

    And now it’s time. “Play Ball!”

    John Klumpp