In case you people thought I've given up on pursuing baseball fandom, THINK AGAIN. I am not a dumb baby quitter! I will conquer baseball! What happened is that I moved. From L.A. to Seattle. And moving is stressful and expensive, which means I don't have my TV set up yet and it's hard to watch baseball without a TV. Waaaaaaahhhhh. Also, I have been ordered from on high to switch my loyalties from the Dodgers to the Mariners—just when the Dodgers were starting to be all amazing! (The Mariners, not so amazing.) But in some ways, I think this might be easier. The Mariners are my hometown team, and I'm living in my hometown, and I love my hometown, and last night I went out to a hometown bar and watched the Mariners with a hometown friend. It was fun.
My hometown friend, it turns out, is a baseball maniac. I didn't even realize it when I invited him to come watch the game with me, but he's the kind of dude who goes to spring training and the thing before spring training that's just, like, a week of stretching or something. He's also pretty bananas in general (lovably bananas) and talks more than any other human I've ever met. So I received a lot of baseball information last night. Here's what happened:
Him: What you have to understand about the Mariners right now is that we're one of the worst-hitting teams in the history of baseball. We're like the Taye Diggs of baseball. We help other teams' pitchers get their groove back.
Me: Okay, so, even as one of the worst-hitting teams in history, how good are these people at baseball?
Him: They are the best people in the world at baseball.
Me: So, at that point, how much better is one dude than another dude? The degrees of difference must be miniscule. What actually causes certain people to win games? Is it just luck?
Him: Some of the differences are miniscule, but some of them are huge. You can tell when you're watching a game-changing player. There's a certain amount of luck, I guess, but there's also a lot of intuition, studying game film, trying to predict whether this pitcher is going to throw a [baseball words baseball words baseball words baseball words]. You're tuning your senses all the time—the difference between winning and losing is a fraction of an inch. And every game is different! The strike zone changes in every game! Baseball is an art form. It's not a sport.
Me: So it's all fine-tuning.
Him: There's an old saying in baseball—there's nothing harder than hitting a round ball with a round bat squarely. Something like that. It's art. It's art! And it kills me when somebody says baseball is boring. Like, if you don't understand art, you're going to think art is boring. "Oh paintings are stupid. It's just a thing. It just sits there." But it doesn't! It's a million tiny things working together to create this beautiful whole. There's a rhythm to baseball. It's ballet.
Me: So baseball is a painting and it's ballet.
Him: Yes. It's definitely ballet. If you're not raised to appreciate art, it's harder to appreciate art as an adult. It's the same with baseball. Baseball is about family. No. Baseball is about fathers. It's a father and son thing.
Me: Okay, that is not fair.
Him: Okay! Sorry! It's a father and son or daughter thing.
Me: No! Because some people don't have fathers! People can enjoy baseball with their mothers just as well as with their fathers! And daughters become mothers, so if you include daughters you have to include mothers. This is silly.
Him: Okay, okay. I'm being a little sexist here. I guess I just mean that baseball is a safe haven for a lot of people. You get raised in it. Baseball's the only thing I could talk to my dad about, and it's the only thing he could talk to his dad about.
Me: Or mom.
Him: Or mom.
Me: But this is really discouraging. Now I feel like in order to complete this project I need to go back in time and convince my dad to like baseball more. He was always a football/basketball guy.
Him: Well, you can definitely find a love for baseball, but to me, baseball is home, and it will probably never be the same for you. It's about family. I don't know if I'll ever have kids, because I don't know if I want to pass my shitty DNA on to a kid that never asked for it. But do you know how much I want to have a son so that I can make him play little league? Every man cries at the end of Field of Dreams. "Wanna have a catch, dad?"
Him: THAT'S WHAT IT IS. YOU JUST WANT YOUR DAD TO LOVE YOU.
Him: People saying that baseball is boring, they're insulting my relationship with my father. It's religion. It's part of you.
Me: Oh, wait. I know you said Field of Dreams, but I was thinking Angels in the Outfield that whole time.
Him: With Christopher Lloyd??? Eh, I probably cried at that one too.