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Must-Click Link: Watching baseball with people who hate baseball

Jun 26, 2012, 3:01 PM EST

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If you’re like me, you find yourself watching baseball alone a lot.  There’s a reason for that, and Jon Bois explains it pretty thoroughly over at SB Nation today.

I’m teaching my kids to like baseball. But if you’ve got a friend over the age of 20 and they’re not into it already, there’s really no point in trying to convert them.

  1. jarathen - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    If I’m not watching baseball alone, I presume that I am asleep.

  2. If the Shoe Fits - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    Matthew Kory wrote a great article at BP about watching with your kids, and teaching them about your team:

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17467

  3. danaking - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I’m confused. Why would I want any friends who are not baseball fans already? Unless there were other, um, “benefits” involved. And those won’t last. Baseball does.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      Most of my friends don’t like the same music I do, or baseball. I’ve found I simply connect with people on a character level.

      That said, I wish they’d just love baseball with me already.

  4. psuravens19 - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Now that you bring it up, I definitely seem to be watching the O’s by myself quite a bit. Take this weekend for example… I was at Seacrets in Ocean City, MD trying to follow the O’s/Nat’s game on my phone; I soon realized there was a TV at the small bar, I was sitting at. I was the only person out of a few thousand at this place, glued to the TV. Once Wieters hit his bomb, I went and enjoyed the activities with everyone else.

  5. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jun 26, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Things are even worse in Toronto. A lot of the so-called fans don’t know the first thing about the game, they just show up to down $10 beers and see Bautista do something. But not if he’s doing it against a small-market team.Then there’s just not a lot of patience for the rest of the team if they’re struggling.

    What I’ve noticed is that, with rare exceptions, people who haven’t played the game will never care or be able to learn how to enjoy it.

  6. jlovenotjlo - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    Try explaining to hockey and basketball-watching friends your genuine excitement over the fact that Adam Dunn leads all of baseball in pitches/PA.

    I’m not exactly picking up new recruits with that one.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM

      I hear you. UZR won’t make you the life of the party, either.

      • simonfoster231171 - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:03 PM

        Or RBI2x3B

  7. sabatimus - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:33 PM

    I totally get why baseball is perceived as boring. Hell, I think it’s boring more often than I used to. But that’s because the game is basically “one pitch, no action. Two pitches, no action. Three pitches, maybe a guy gets a hit. Wash, rinse, repeat”. I like hockey a lot more because they’res constant action. But I also get that there are a lot of nuances to baseball that get lost in translation to both tv viewers and even attendees: bunt or hit and run signs from dugouts, whether or not the pitcher is tipping his pitches, the guy on first who’s doing his best to irritate the pitcher, the way the outfield and infield change their formations depending on who’s at the plate—all this stuff is mostly lost on casual viewers, especially since tv does not cover all of this all that well.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jun 26, 2012 at 4:51 PM

      I firmly believe a game can be heavily changed quicker in baseball than in any other sport. One moment, one wrong pitch, one missed swing, one passed ball – it’s happened in tens of thousands of games.

      Not to mention you see something new all the time. I’ll cite last night’s Mets/Cubs game as an example of something I barely ever see.

      Baseball should always be described the way Ken Burns describes it. A cynical world with more and more media & entertainment should never affect that.

      • jlovenotjlo - Jun 26, 2012 at 5:02 PM

        I love that baseball doesn’t end anti-climatically with kneel downs, “draining the clock”, a bunch of the fouls, etc.

        No team is ever truly out of a baseball game as long as there is 1 out left to give, as there is no clock winding down. The same cannot be said for any other major American sport.

      • 14thinningstretch - Jun 26, 2012 at 6:14 PM

        I think you hit the nail on the head. The drama in baseball mostly comes from knowing that games can change on one pitch or one fielding play or one swing, or whatever. It’s mostly a game of anticipation, not action.

  8. jimatkins - Jun 26, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    My wife wasn’t a fan at all, but she saw the bright red light and we are happy Angels fans together. I think tight pants on outfielders had something to do with it.

  9. rooney24 - Jun 26, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    One thing I like about baseball is that if you go to or watch a game, the odds of your team winning are higher than any other sport. Most seasons, most teams will win between 60-100 games (or close to that). That would be the same percentage as every NFL team winning between 6-10 games or every NBA team between 30-50 wins. I realize that it looks worse, since baseball plays more games, and some team will be more than 30 games out at the end of the year. But, by percentages, you actually have more parity in baseball than in either the NFL or NBA. So, you have a better chance of seeing your team win than you do in other major sports.

    Plus, I love the pace of baseball. I know it is a slower, more relaxed pace, but then you have very fast action when the ball is put into play. There seems to be at least a couple amazing plays every game.

  10. foreverchipper10 - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    But…Craig….doesn’t your girlfriend like baseball? Mine does although she is a Phillies fan. But I still think that is a win for the both of us on that front.

  11. salvomania - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Baseball is a game of discreetly unfolding, and accreting, events at a variety of scales, with each one subtly but significantly informing the next.

    The key to getting someone to not be bored by—to appreciate even—baseball is to have them really understand this.

    The observer that just waits for “something to happen” is missing 90% of the interesting part of the game.

    With each pitch, things happen: the catcher shifts his weight while glancing at the hitter after signalling to the pitcher the plan of attack—every pitch is part of a sequential, coordinated plan of attack—and the fielders also shift this way or that depending on the type of pitch, the the handedness of the batter, and the runners on base.

    I impress my casual-fan friends every now and then calling pitches—type and location—with about 80% accuracy (“he’s gonna throw a breaking ball into the hitter towards his back leg and it’s gonna end up being about two inches off the ground and the hitter is gonna swing over it”) and the only way I can do it is by watching the sequence of pitches, and, of course, having familiarity with both the hitter and the pitcher.

    Each pitch informs the next pitch, each batter event informs the next one, each batter reaching base alters the approach to the next batter, the results of each inning affect the strategy of the next (relievers, defensive switches, pinch hitters, etc.), and so on.

    You could say something similar about any sport, but the beauty of baseball is that, unlike some other sports, each pitch is discreet, and so is each play, so each can be appreciated for not only itself (“What a great pitch!”; “What a great turn at second!”) but also for how its influence might be felt on future events.

    The pitches and plays accumulate into a unique design with every single game, in which the outcome can never be known, even when a lead seems insurmountable, until the 27 outs (no clock!) have been exhausted.

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