Play Ball

{Warning - Non-political post ahead. Don't worry, there'll be more partisan hack-ery either later today or tomorrow.}

Just goes to show - with (a) the lack of hockey playoffs to remind me that "hey, it's spring!" and (b) a focus on politics, I haven't paid enough attention to the start of the MLB season.

Baseball has taken it in the teeth lately, and deservedly so. Their drug-testing system is a joke, and I'm disgusted at the thought that players whom I admired just a few years ago may have set their home run records thanks to the pharmaceutical industry.

Additionally, the disparity between "big market" and "small market" teams means that long-suffering fans in places like Kansas City will have to catch a very lucky break to see their team in the post-season (although to be fair, the Oakland A's seem to manage ok). Now, I'm all for the free market in theory and practice, but there's something to be said for an NFL-style system where a team in a place like Green Bay can consistently be in contention.

And don't even get me started on the demise of the Montreal Expos. Watching the team play out the string brought back memories of '81 and '94 ... so near, and yet, so far. It tears my guts out to see "Washington Nationals" in the box scores and standings. (I had vowed to avoid the Nats and everything about them, but to give some (minor) credit, they do have a fairly good history of their life as the Expos here. But don't buy anything on-line there - they don't deserve any money in their pockets ...)

And yet ... one of the positives about me and my wife moving to Toronto is that we're literally a block away from Skydome - er, I mean, the Rogers Centre. And unlike the Leafs (who?) and Raptors, you can attend a Jays game at something close to a reasonable price.

Now, I have to confess, I don't enjoy watching ball games indoors. Watching under the closed dome is better than nothing, but there's nothing like watching a game under the sun instead. But like pizza (and certain other activities), even when live baseball isn't at it's best, it's still pretty damned good.

Baseball is called boring. I would say it's definitely a slower-paced game, but what's wrong with that on a summer evening? Personally, I enjoy watching the strategy develop, get revised and put into effect, both offensively and defensively. Yeah, a breakaway in hockey (or soccer) is exciting, but there's something about watching the excitement build over the course of a half-inning - one man on base, then another, then a K, a sac fly, a walk ... and it keeps on building till the third out.

But even if there isn't something happening that minute, that's ok ... unlike, say basketball, where you pretty much need to be watching every second, in baseball you can take a minute (or more) to look around the ballpark, to grab a hotdog or a beer, or even to chat with the person next to you - and odds are, you won't miss the highlight of the night.

And I like the fact that there isn't a clock to play against - you keep going till the last out. Yeah, the game can drag (they've taken some steps to crack down on stalling ... but it's still a work in progress), but it means that, as the great philosopher said, "it aint over till it's over".

And all of that aside, despite a bit of a losing streak over the last week, it actually looks like the home side won't completely stink out the joint this year ... and even if they collapse, you can still get that sense of optimism at the start of each season, or even each game, or even each inning, or even each at bat - a sense that this time, in spite of all logic & lessons that ought to hae been learned from previous experience, something good will happen.

Now, if they can just get the drugs out of the game, I'll be a happy man ...

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: the Yankees suck. Just wanted to make sure I pointed that out.

More later.


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