I love baseball; I always have. I think this is because my team, the Orioles, won the World Series the very first year I started following them. So, it’s reasonable to ask why I’m still an avid fan even though they haven’t had a winning season since Abner Doubleday was still alive. I honestly can’t answer that, but it may be for the same reason that I‘m first in line at the box office for the premiere of every new Rocky movie. (I’m sure you Astros fans know what I’m talking about here.)
My wife, on the other hand, can’t stand baseball. She thinks it’s boring. She’d rather count the seeds on a strawberry than go to see a baseball game. So, imagine how thrilled I was when she agreed to go with me to Oriole Park at Camden Yards during our recent trip to Yankee Land. Sure, I told her we were going out to dinner. I just failed to mention that we’d be eating at Boog Powell’s Barbecue Stand located behind the bleachers. She was strangely quiet as the usher dusted the cobwebs off our reserved seats on the third base side.
I don’t know why my wife feels this way about baseball. It’s actually a very exciting sport. Consider, for example, this common game situation. There is a man on first and one out. The pitcher looks in for the sign. The catcher flashes the sign. The pitcher shakes off the sign. The catcher flashes another sign. The pitcher nods and goes into his windup. He breaks out of his windup. He checks the runner on first. He checks his voice mail. He checks in for another sign. The umpire checks out and ambles over to the concession stand for a cold one.
And so it goes. Here you see why it takes three hours to complete a game that has, at most, about a minute and 17 seconds of real action. By this measure, the cost of a ticket is about $35 per minute, making major league baseball the most expensive professional sport to attend. Sure, football tickets cost more per game, but there you get, on average, a whopping six minutes and 32 seconds of action, if you include the huddles.
Speaking of concessions, this is one of the great things about going to a baseball game. There’s nothing better than whiling away the hours on good old ballpark fare, like a hot dog that is about the size and firmness of a strand of overcooked spaghetti. Or popcorn that’s been salted with the entire contents of the Dead Sea. Cheap local beer that you can get for about $2.50 a case on the outside. And all this for not more than the Gross National Product of Ecuador!
Concessions are such an integral part of going to the ballpark that they bear a mention in the lyrics of baseball’s memorable anthem, “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” You may hear this yourself sometimes over the snoring during the seventh inning snooze at any game.
Another thing I love about baseball is the statistics. There is a wealth of interesting statistics associated with the sport. For instance, there are RBI’s, ERA, OBP, W/L percentage, P/E ratio, and so on. This is why many highly intelligent people also love baseball. It’s known that Albert Einstein used baseball statistics in developing his theories of relativity. Now these days, with the help of computers, they’ve developed even more interesting statistics, such as On-Base Percentage Against Left Handers Over 6’ 2” During Home Day Games On Mondays In An Election Year. Now there’s a statistic for you!
I realize that all of these figures might seem daunting to the average fan. Even the simplest of statistics can be tricky to comprehend. Consider, for instance, the statistic for all-time career home runs:
1. Barry Bonds- 762*
2. Hank Aaron- 755
3. Babe Ruth- 714**
* Done while using steroids.
** Done while hung over.
So, it’s hard even to decipher who the real leader is in this basic category. But not to worry, scientists at the country’s top research institutions are feverishly working to answer this, thanks to a large grant from the Federal Government.
Needless to say, we had a great time at the ball game. Even my wife remarked how she had learned something very interesting that evening. “See,” I said to her. “I knew you would come around. So what is it that you learned?”
She looked at me and replied, “Did you know that there are over 200 seeds on a strawberry?”