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thedrifter
10-03-05, 06:24 AM
Love Letter to Baseball
Written by Burt Prelutsky
Monday, October 03, 2005

My wife has very few flaws. In fact, only one comes readily to mind. Where baseball is concerned, she just doesnít get it.

Once, on a trip to New York, I took her to a Yankee game. Even though Clemens and Rivera combined on a three hit shutout, she appreciated only two aspects of the experience. She liked the checkerboard effect the groundskeeper had managed to create on the grass, and she enjoyed watching the grounds crew sweep the infield to the strains of the Village Peopleís recording of ďY.M.C.A.Ē

Over the years, I have tried explaining to her why baseball is the greatest sport ever invented. I have failed miserably. But perhaps itís not yet too late to reach some of you non-believers.

For openers, there are the wonderful dimensions of the game. My wife is aware that in every other major sport, the size of the field or the court remains constant, and it doesnít matter whether the basketball game is played in Seattle or Miami, the soccer match in Boston or L.A., or the football game in Chicago or Dallas. But every baseball field is different. Some have higher walls, some have more room behind home plate or along the foul lines, some places you have to hit a ball 340 feet to homer while in others 300 feet will do the trick. But what remains constant is the 90 feet between each base and the 60 feet 6 inches from the pitchers mound to home. Euclid had nothing on whomever it was who came up with those magical numbers. If first base was 91 feet from home, batters would win batting titles with .275 batting averages; if first was 89 feet away, batting .400 would be commonplace. The same shift in dominance would occur if the pitchers mound were moved a foot closer to the batter or a foot farther away.

One of the nicer things about baseball is that it is the only physical sport that manages to accommodate all different sizes and body shapes. Little guys and even fat guys can not only compete, but dominate.

A complaint often leveled at baseball is that itís slow. Well, part of that is due to the fact that every game is televised, and they cram in a bunch of commercials each half inning and every time a relief pitcher comes into the game. In spite of that, a baseball game usually takes about three hours; the same as a football game. But football, unlike baseball, has a 60-minute clock. In baseball, no lead is safe. In football, the only suspense is provided by the point spread. If you have bet the underdog and taken 17 points, you might actually have a reason to stick around to the end of a game in which the other team is 21 points ahead with a couple of minutes to go, but nobody else does.

In baseball, on the other hand, thereís nothing to prevent a team from erasing a six or seven run deficit in the bottom of the ninth. When was the last time you saw a football team come back in the last few minutes when itís been trailing 42-0?

Thatís another thing. Some people claim they enjoy football more than baseball because thereís more offense. They choose to overlook the fact that 28-14 doesnít really translate to 42 actual scores, but merely indicates that one team scored four times to the other teamís two. In baseball, that would be considered a pitchersí duel.

Whatís more, even with the designated hitter rule, there is more strategy in an inning of baseball than there is in an entire basketball game, a season of football, or in the entire history of soccer.

Another thing that baseball has over other sports is that it exemplifies America in a way that is probably unparalleled in any other part of society. For one thing, not one of the 750 or so major leaguers is there because he inherited his position or because his father owns the team. He is there because he hits, fields or pitches, better than the other six billion people on the face of the earth. And although it wasnít so long ago that people could ridicule baseball for daring to call its championship a world series, these days itís not much of a stretch. There are, after all, players in the big leagues from Canada, Mexico, South and Central America, Australia, the Caribbean, Japan, Korea, and I suspect a few other places that have slipped my mind.

In addition, baseball fosters togetherness in a way thatís become alien in this country. E Pluribus Unum could be the motto of baseball even if itís been turned on its head elsewhere by the loony multiculturalists.

But, finally, what truly confounds me about my wifeís attitude is that she admires grace in all other arenas. She can watch ice skaters and dancers until the cows come home. However, when I point out the spontaneous leaps and moves made by a second baseman, who is trying to complete a double play while the base runner is trying to knock him into leftfield, she merely yawns.

Worse yet, when I go so far as to suggest that these guys are performing ballet in cleats, I swear she gives me the very same patronizing look my dog gives me when I try to reason with him.

About the Writer: Burt Prelutsky is a humorist, movie reviewer, writer for television series and movies, and author of the new book, "Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco." His website is at burtprelutsky.com. Burt receives e-mail at BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.

Ellie

Joseph P Carey
10-03-05, 04:57 PM
I have to agree with the guy, Baseball is America!