This post is for the ladies who are forced to watch endless hours of baseball through the spring, summer, and in some cases fall and have no idea what’s going on. Some women marry hunters and “bid them farewell” for several weeks each year while they all but live in the woods. Some women marry fishermen and again say ‘see ya’ during the fishing season. You may have even married a man that believes Saturdays are reserved for spa days … no judgement here. However, we (Danielle & Kelsea), married sports crazed men and baseball seems to be their main mistress. For 162 games a year.
I (Danielle) married a man who will watch ANY sport that involves people and some form of goal. Naturally, being from the City of Brotherly Love, he LOVES each and every Philadelphia sports team and watches them any time they are on tv. This is ok during football season because games are only on two-three days a week. Basketball isn’t too bad either because he’s coaching during that season and it’s probably his least favorite to watch on tv, meaning it’s only once or twice a week not every night. Hockey also isn’t bad because it’s not on in our market that often so his opportunities to watch are few. Then there’s baseball. Which is on just about every day of the week. I used to HATE baseball, it annoyed me to no end when he would, night in and night out, put it on the tv. I thought it was boring and while I understood the general concept of the game I didn’t understand the intricacies making it confusing and like I said, BORING! But, refusing to retire to my room and spend the evening alone I would opt to mess around on the computer and talk to him while he watched his game.
Then my husband found a summer job (he’s a teacher) that had him away from home 3-4 evenings each week during the summer. I would get the kids through their bedtime routine and off to sleep and after my channel surfing failed to find me something to watch I would turn it to the Phillies (baseball) because “Matt will be home in an hour or so,” grab the laptop and check Facebook emails etc waiting til he arrived home. Then, it happened. I started getting sucked into these games! I couldn’t believe it, even fought it at first. But, while watching just an hour or so each night, waiting for Matt to get home from work, I started understanding those intricacies and slowly but surely fell in love with watching baseball. I got to where I would turn the games on when they started and would watch the whole thing! It probably helped that this was in 2008 during the Phillies’ World Series run and they were winning all the time but I found watching the game interesting and relaxing. I didn’t have to follow some complex story line of a drama or watch people look for their next ‘way too expensive’ house. I could turn it on and multitask or just turn off my mind and relax.
My (Kelsea) story with learning to love baseball is a little different than Danielle’s. I, too, played basketball and softball and enjoyed watching football. Growing up in our family – you watched football on Saturdays and Sundays (in the fall). In the spring and summer you were glued to another PGA tournament. No questions asked. It’s just what you did. We had a basic understanding of most sports because our father refused to raise girls that had no clue what was going on – much to our chagrin this sometimes meant we were going with him to the driving range while he attempted to teach us how to accurately drive a ball. And much to our father’s delight, a majority of us ended up with a solid appreciation of golf and football. However … my father loathes baseball. LOATHES IT. He understands the rules and watched it only because our 3 younger brothers all played baseball (and were quite good). I went to the games with my dad because he would buy me cheese fries, Swedish fish, and a Dr. Pepper. I had to share with him, but hey … a few innings of baseball was worth it. Those cheese fries were divine.
About 6 days after my wedding my new sports nut husband and I were in Baltimore for a few days before heading out on our honeymoon cruise. He was taking me to my first Major League Baseball game in his hometown. I was so anxious. He bought 3rd baseline seats, and I was thinking to myself … “Man, I hope they have cheese fries and beer. Otherwise this is going to suck.” We found our seats and I could touch the left fielder if I wanted to. (Let me just mention two words here: Baseball Pants.) We bought our $9 beers and $6 hotdogs and sat down and watched the players warm up. I was mesmerized by the field. The perfect green grass, perfectly straight and impossibly white chalk lines. There were actual peanut and hotdog salesmen shouting to the right and left; peddling their overpriced ballpark delicacies. It was like I was in a movie. Soon the National Anthem blared in the city in which it was written and every O’s fan in the place shouted the “o” in “O say can you see?” to show off that Oriole pride. I looked to my right and saw my marine husband, fresh off of a deployment, show his reverence and respect for his country as he was adorned in his hometown colors – striking orange and deep black. He was home, he was at Camden Yards, and for the next 9 innings he got to teach his new wife baseball.
And I fell in love.
Over the past four years I have grown to borderline obsession with baseball. I check my MLB app about 50 times a day. Sadly if I am home (I usually am) I am watching the O’s game. All 9 innings. My husband finally pointed out the obvious when he declared, “I have created a monster.” The truth is I DO love baseball, but I love baseball with my husband most of all. I absolutely adore talking about how Chen is too hot or cold for me to trust his pitching, or how first baseman Chris Davis somehow came out in the 17th inning at Fenway and saved the game – with his 91 mph fastball. I love learning new things about baseball, and I cherish the times we just sit there and stare silently ahead as the Orioles play one more game. (Unless it’s a close one. Then there’s a lot of standing and yelling.)
I’m sure you’ve heard of the movie Moneyball. I highly recommend you watch it – right behind Bull Durham and Major League and Field of Dreams. Anyway … At the end of the movie Brad Pitt, as his character Billy Beane, says;
“How can you not be romantic about baseball?”
That line alone gave me chill bumps and my eyes filled with tears and like a hormonal nutjob (I was pregnant) I watched the movie one more time. Declaring it one of the best sports movies of all time. Right behind Bull Durham.
Now we are not promising a love of baseball. But we are saying that, like us, you may learn to tolerate it (and possibly love it) if you had a little understanding of the game. And if anything you can scare the crap out of your guy when tonight he’s watching his baseball game and you drop this line,
“Wow that’s a decent batting average. Hope he can keep it up…”
or my personal favorite …
“That guy can’t hit an off speed pitch to save his life.”
Here’s a quick understanding of baseball – and we will try not to assume absolute ignorance here. Don’t be afraid to comment and ask us a question. Or seek out your good pal Google. 😉
1) Major League games contain 9 innings – both teams are given an opportunity to bat and pitch in each inning. The only exception is if the team batting last in the 9th inning is ahead. In which case the game ends a half inning early. There is NO timeclock. Yes, we know it’s weird.
2) Defense is quite simple. The first goal is for the pitcher to pitch the batter out and for them never to get to first base. It’s unlikely that this happens, and the batter in most cases will make contact with the ball. (Unless you’re Mike Trout in his sophomore slump. Bazinga! You can say that to your husband tonight, too. I give you permission.) It’s the responsibility of the pitcher’s infield and outfield to “field the ball” and either a) catch it before it hits the ground resulting in an out or b) tagging the batter out prior to them safely reaching their base.
3) The guy in blue behind the catcher is what we call an “ump” or “umpire.” Or if you’re a pissed off fan because of a bad call, “Com’on BLUE! *expletive* *expletive*” (They wear blue.) Anyway … He’s like a ref. There are a few umpires on the field, but the main one is the big guy calling the ball – Homeplate Umpire. He makes the call whether the ball approaching the batter is a ball (a ball pitched that is not within the strike zone) or a strike (a ball pitched within the strike zone to which the batter makes no contact with the ball). If you see him do this:
Well, you get it. Strike.
4) 3 Strikes = Out. 4 Balls = Walk.
5) “Foul” is when the ball rolls or is hit outside the foul lines/poles on the field. The first two fouls a batter hits go against his strike count. After two he can stand there and foul tip all day. Which will drive you insane. You’ll want to punch yourself in the face. You’ll scream every single time. Especially if the game is close. You hate to love the foul tippers. Every team has one. Every single team has that guy that makes a pitcher pitch atleast 12 pitches to him before he strikes out or hits a homerun. This guy is an ass.
6) When on defense the object of the game is to get the other team to 3 outs, which would then mean you would be up to bat and have your chance at scoring a few runs. (Please note – never call runs “points.” Been there, done that, husband exiled me to the kitchen for an inning.) When on offense the object of the game is to score as many runs as possible.
7) A “run” is when a player touches homeplate, untagged. This can be done if he hits a homerun (out of the park or in the park) or if another player on his team hits a ball far enough for him to run to homeplate. (This is called an RBI or “run/s batted in.”)
8) A walk is when the batter gets to walk to first base without hitting a ball. This is the result of 4 balls being pitched his way or being hit with a baseball.
9) If at the end of 9 innings the score is tied – you play innings until you have a winner. Last year the O’s continually went into extra innings and in one case had completely circled through their bullpen (we’ll get to that) resulting in their first baseman having to pitch the game – in the 17th inning. I wanted to stab my own eyes out with a plastic fork.
10) Bullpen? Each team has extra pitchers. You have your starters – which they try to squeak at least 6-7 innings out of. 8 at best. Then you have your relievers – their job is simply to relieve the starting pitcher and try to throw strikes for at least an inning until another reliever comes in. In a “save” situation you have – your closers. These guys are like your Navy SEALS. They have one job – blow crap up. They pitch fast, and scary. And teams invest in them because they save them from random homeruns being hit when you have a 1-2 run lead in a game. You’d be shocked how many games can be lost in the final 2 at bats of a baseball game. Never leave the ballpark early!
11) There are two “leagues” within the Major League. National League and American League. Overcomplicating of a simple process – it’s just a way to organize and determine a championship series at the end of the year. A way to answer “who goes against whom.” One thing you should note, and might confuse you, National League Pitchers must bat when they are playing other National League teams or (during interleague play) at their home parks against American League teams. American League Pitchers never bat unless (during interleague play) they are playing at a National League’s ballpark. Because they do not bat (American League Pitchers) the team gets what you call a “designated hitter.” This player is not playing in the field on defense and their only job is to hit the ball. In most cases this DH changes every few games.
12) Pinch Runner = A player you bring in to run the bases in lieu of the big, fat, slow guy who just has a powerful bat. Pinch Hitter = A player you bring in, who normally has a good batting average, to replace another batter in (usually) effort to score runs in a tight spot.
These 12 things will help you to get through a game and are the most basic facts about baseball. What you should know about baseball is this – it’s all about statistics. When a batter gets up to the plate you’ll see a whole bunch of numbers on the screen and you’ll start clutching for your iPhone to Google what in the heck they mean. Here’s what you should know – to you they mean nothing. You want your team to get a “W” and be the guys that play into October. The more you watch some form of osmosis happens and you start retaining these weird statistics, but for right now just don’t pay attention. Look at the pretty baseball pants and hope that your team scores more runs than the other team.
We encourage you this weekend to find a sitter for the kids, and if your husband is a baseball fan, pick up some beers/sodas and some hotdogs and watch the game with him. It may not sound like the most fun to you, but when you see how much your husband lights up – you’ll keep watching. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be romantic about baseball too.
From Left Field,