Baseball in America
I Love Baseball
I love the game of Baseball. I have spent countless hours watching my Chicago Cubbies. But I don't want to talk about them this time. I want to write briefly about the game itself—why I love it. And take you on a tour of some beautiful Baseball fields; show you some still photos of the action; and share Baseball quotes I get a chuckle out of.
The pitcher is the focal point of the game. He works in the middle of the diamond with four infielders and three outfielders behind him; and his catcher in front of him. These defenders are playing a game within a game.
The outfielders are fairly alone out there. They patrol their piece of turf, and do not interact with each other much. They need to be able to gauge the projection of a fly ball or line drive; get to it quickly; and throw the ball long distances with velocity and accuracy.
The infielders, by contrast, must exhibit extraordinary team work and they are very much in conversation with each other—and sometimes they use words. They depend on cat-like reflexes, as a hard hit ball may reach them in one second.
Pitchers and catchers form a special bond that sometimes approaches mental telepathy. They have a game plan of how to dispatch each of the nine hitters in the opposing team's lineup for that day. They have prepared by studying film and scouting reports to find the special weakness each batter has, that they hope to exploit.
Generally, they want the ball to be hit, just not hit sharply. They have an advantage there, as the hardest thing to do in sports is take a round bat and hit a round ball—squarely. The very best hitters fail at it 70% of the time.
Hitting is an art form
A batter has only 2/10 of a second to decide whether to swing or not. Past that, it is too late. Therefore, hitting a baseball is all about timing and it follows that pitching is all about throwing off the timing of the batter, by constantly changing speeds, and the precise location that each pitch is thrown. It is a chess match followed with ballet by the defenders when the ball is put into play.
The top pitchers can throw the ball 100 mph. So fast, that during a game, when the umpire called a strike, a batter said, "It sounded outside to me, ump."
Life is like Baseball
Baseball is a lot like life. Since it is a rare team sport that has no time clock—there is no telling when the game will end; though it has an average life span. Theoretically, a game could go on forever, as the foul lines do. The most precious thing is baseball is outs. You can't get them back once they are gone.
The season starts in the spring, when the world springs to life; and when all teams at least feign great expectations. It ends in the fall, when life starts to fade to winter, and the dreams of all but a few have come to naught.
The Rhythm of Life
The rhythm of the game is a lot like most lives, too. There is no constant action. There is waiting, providing time for thinking and conversation. But when the action comes, it is intense. Spurts of crucibles, often unexpected, even though it has all happened before to other players, somewhere at some time in the past.
Here are some famous baseball quotes:
"Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal." George Will
"Baseball's best teams lose about sixty-five times a season. It is not a game you can play with your teeth clenched." George Will
"I don't want to play golf. When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it." Rogers Hornsby
"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." Rogers Hornsby
"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there are men on base." Dave Barry
"When we played softball, I'd steal second base, feel guilty and go back." Woody Allen
"Baseball wrong - man with four balls cannot walk." Confucius
More Baseball Quotes
"Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Wes Westrum
"Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple." Barry Switzer
"I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I am playing it." Carl Yastrzemski.
"The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid. And if the hitter is timid, he has to remind the hitter he's timid." Don Drysdale
"When you're in a slump, it's almost as if you look out at the field and it's one big glove." Vance Law
"Progress always involves risks. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first." Frederick B. Wilcox
"Baseball is like a poker game. Nobody wants to quit when he's losing; nobody wants you to quit when you're ahead." Jackie Robinson
"Why does everybody stand up and sing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' when they're already there?" Larry Anderson
"That's baseball, and it's my game. Y' know, you take your worries to the game, and you leave 'em there. You yell like crazy for your guys. It's good for your lungs, gives you a lift, and nobody calls the cops. Pretty girls, lots of 'em." Humphrey Bogart
"What is both surprising and delightful is that spectators are allowed, and even expected, to join in the vocal part of the game.... There is no reason why the field should not try to put the batsman off his stroke at the critical moment by neatly timed disparagements of his wife's fidelity and his mother's respectability." George Bernard Shaw
“The other day they asked me about mandatory drug testing. I said I believed in drug testing a long time ago. All through the sixties I tested everything.” Bill Lee
“By the time you know what to do, you’re too old to do it.” Ted Williams
“If I knew I’d live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” Mickey Mantle
"It actually giggles at you as it goes by." Rick Monday, talking about the knuckleball