Can you believe a year has already gone by and the Jays are in the playoffs again, and as for Justin he’s ready to make some decisions.
Though I’ve never played the game, baseball has become my favourite spectator sport for a number of reasons.
A big factor is the absence of senseless violence. We almost lost our own Sid the Kid to two violent avoidable concussions a few years’ back and yet on-ice fights, slashing, boarding, and elbows to the head continue to occur as part of that game.
Major league baseball is almost totally non-violent. Sure there is the occasional bench-clearing incident which hardly qualifies as a brawl. Heck, players and managers can be kicked out of the game for just a few ill-chosen words directed at thin-skinned umpires.
Batters accidentally hit by a pitch earn a walk to first. Base runners rushing fielders at second base get called out for dangerous play and risk suspension as was the case with Jose Bautista a while back.
I also like the idea of seeing the baseball players’ faces and expressions not being hidden by helmets with faceguard and visors. You get to see their personalities both on the field and especially in the dug-out, led by the hi-jinks and enthusiasm of the Latin players.
The structure of the game also lends itself to a richer spectator experience. Games like hockey, soccer, football, rugby, basketball, lacrosse, etc., all basically involve action alternating from one end of a playing area to another, back and forth, back and forth, with the objective of putting a ball or puck in a net or making a touchdown.
The game of baseball, invented by one Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York, during the summer of 1839, has a game structure that lends itself to employing a host of game-winning strategies on the fly. And it’s that aspect I find most enjoyable in baseball.
Some folk consider baseball to be unexciting and slow moving when compared to hockey and they may have a point; but the variety of play options the manager has available at various points during the game is endless. The pitcher also has a selection of pitches he can use to take out the batter. There can be three, four or more pitchers involved in a game, each with different skills needed in various situations.
The batters have a variety of means to circle the four bases either through walks, singles, doubles, sacrifice flies, home runs, stolen bases, etc. The fielding team needing three outs per inning can secure them through more ways than I can count. And success mainly depends on the smarts of the manager and preparation and execution by the team in all aspects of the game.
Let’s hope it will all come together again for the Blue Jays in their current series against the Texas Rangers.
Alan Walter is a retired professional engineer living in Oxford. He was born in Wales and worked in Halifax. He spends much of his time in Oxford, where he operates a small farm. His column will appear periodically. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.