My introduction to our nation’s pastime began at a slow and steady pace. I was too young to actually remember when I was graced with my first mitt or instructed to throw a ball to my dad, but I’m sure it was a gleaming moment in the eyes of my parents to see their first son pick up the baseball for the first time, or at least I would hope so. Baseball definitely wasn’t in my genes, so it took quite a bit of grooming during my younger years to get me to embrace the game.
Short vacations out to Palm Springs were never without taking hacks at tennis balls set up on tees. Trips to the park always meant playing catch with my older sister, which was a challenge mainly because she threw like such a girl. (Love you Tori!) I even still reminisce about the poignant moment when my dad finally told me that I was ready to graduate from soft-woven baseballs to hardcover and then shortly thereafter faced the uncomfortable realization that I would also have to start wearing that godforsaken piece of plastic—the cup.
Through the emotional turmoil that was batting slumps and the glorious dog piles near the mound, I have earned an appreciation for baseball that is common among all baseball players, former and current. It takes this sort of appreciation to really enjoy watching the game even after playing days may have already passed. It’s a small dagger to my heart every time I hear fellow students rip on baseball because they think it is too slow. They claim nothing ever happens and that the game is just, well, boring. Like most misunderstandings—whether they be sexist, ideological, religious, or, in this case, athletic—this claim that baseball doesn’t move fast enough is born of ignorance.
I admit that for those who have never played the game it is hard to feel the same edge-of-your-seat kind of excitement that I feel whenever the pitcher fires the ball in toward the batter. Those without a connection to the game consider the pauses and breaks in the action reasons to dislike it. During these pauses, though, I am constantly considering all of the variables, which heavily contributes to the nerves of watching game. Who’s out on the field, what’s the count, who’s on base, what inning it is, the score, what pitches the pitcher has in his arsenal, which umpire is calling the game, which team is home and which is away… I could go on and on—these all race through my head during the wind-up and release, making the pace of play a negligible concern.
With all the new technology being brought into the game, particularly the expansion of video replay, the speed of baseball games and their overall length has become a considerable worry for some fans. There almost seems to be no reasonable solution in sight to cut down game length, and God help us if we mention the idea of ditching a few commercials for the sake of shrinking game times. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright had a stimulating suggestion—expand the strike zone. That would surely counteract the slowdown caused by increased replays, not to mention let pitchers sweat less when on the rubber.
Of course this suggestion cannot be considered feasible, but Wainwright went on to make a statement that is all too valid: “I’m not concerned about it slowing the game if I’m pitching and a call is made that isn’t the right call,” he said. “I would rather take the two minutes there to get the right call made.”
Although the game receives a ton of flak for being “slow” and “boring,” what needs to be valued over all else is the fairness of the game itself. Again, it takes that aforementioned appreciation for baseball to honestly be able to accept the slower pace in exchange for accuracy, to value game quality over game length. I’m not sure if it’s a lost cause to make an attempt at convincing dissenters that baseball in itself is exciting, but I cannot help but fight back against the claim that it is too slow.
In more than one aspect of life—I’m talking to you, Georgetown students—taking things slowly is definitely the way to go. It shouldn’t be how long the game lasts that matters, it should be about all the other small things that make up this wonderful game and every aspect of its beautiful complexity that make it great.