Sunday, July 02, 2006


Went to the Seattle Mariners game last night with the kid and it reminded me why baseball is, to my way of thinking, the best spectator sport out there. Soccer’s fine—every four years or so—but nothing satisfies this old sports fan like the grand old game.

A number of the points baseball has going for it were illustrated last night.

First, no other sport does a better job of highlighting superb individual performances. Raul Ibanez scaled the outfield fence in the first inning to take away a homerun from an opposing batter. Ichiro hit a clutch two-run dinger in the sixth to put the Mariners in the lead. Richie Sexson made a superb over-the-shoulder catch on a foul ball to help preserve the victory. This isn’t to say that other sports don’t showcase individual excellence, but baseball does so uniquely well.

Second, there was a comeback from way back. The Mariners fell behind 7-2 in the second inning. You get down a couple goals in soccer, you can pretty much forget it. Several touchdowns in football, game over. But in baseball, a team can scratch and claw their way back into it; and without a clock ticking away, there’s always time to do so.

Third, baseball’s the best sport for people who like to write things down. Mimi kept score last night, a practice I’ve now passed on to her, having had it passed on to me by my dad. No other sport has such a fine tradition of and language for recording the event’s proceedings. So, for folks who tend to process the world by capturing it in written form, baseball rules.

Naturally, all of baseball’s excesses and failings were on display, too: long boring stretches punctuated by ephemeral excitement, repetitive actions to no apparent end, seemingly random judgments that seriously affected the game’s outcome—but as this is just like life, I take it as another—and indeed decisive—point in baseball’s favor.


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