Go ahead and tell me that baseball’s boring. I won’t disagree with you. Just say it. The pitcher stands there and stares at the catcher, the batter stares at the pitcher, they wait, they wait some more, the batter steps away from the box until finally a pitch is thrown, nothing happens, and then everyone stands around looking at each other until they do it again.
But baseball is a game of moments. You don’t go to the game for the slow periods. You go because no matter whether it’s the Major Leagues or the Little League, you’re guaranteed to see something you have never seen before, and something you will never see again. Baseball is all about these moments. There are at least five or six of them in every game, sometimes more. Sometimes many more. A line drive bounces off first base and skips into foul territory, a fan makes a great catch, an unknown pitcher freezes an All Star slugger with a looping curve, the manager and the home plate umpire find themselves in an epic argument. Then there are the diving catches, the towering homers, the wild pitches and those unforgettable close plays at the plate. Sure, you’ve seen these things before, but have you seen a 300-pound pitcher lumber off the mound, dive across the grass and nab a pop-up bunt? Have you seen a skinny 5’10” rookie shortstop with no home runs to his credit smash a 420-foot blast over the center field wall? Have you seen two players collide in shallow center field and nearly drop a pop-up until a third fielder dove between them to catch the ball before it hit the ground?
Have you seen any of these things?
I have. Or maybe I haven’t. I’m not sure. They certainly all sound familiar, and all are certainly possible. But baseball is a game of the impossible, which means that seeing all of these things is entirely possible.
I saw a one-handed pitcher throw a no-hitter. I saw a squirrel sprint across home plate as a pitcher wound up and threw home – during a playoff game. I saw a fly ball bounce off a right fielder’s head and land over the fence in right for a home run. I saw baseball’s all time strikeout leader punch out the all-time stolen base leader to log his 5000th strikeout. I saw a girl with big boobs rush the field and hug one of the outfielders. And I saw Bo Jackson break a bat over his knee after striking out. Sure, other guys have done that, but none of them did it like Bo.
That is what baseball is about. Those moments. The unexpected, spectacular, one-of-a-kind events that change the course of a game, alter the outcome of a season and define a player’s career. A World Series lost on a ground ball through the legs, another one won with an unprecedented 10-inning shutout in Game 7. These are things we will probably never see again, but if we do, they will be slightly different the next time. Could a hobbling player with two bad knees pinch hit in the bottom of the 9th inning and hit a 2-out game winning home run? Could a no-frills pitcher with one pitch log more saves than any human to ever toe the rubber in the 9th? Could a pinch running Red Sock steal second base and spark the game’s greatest comeback since now, then and forever?
Yeah, all of these impossible things happen. They happen all the time. The little ones happen in almost every game and the big ones get talked about for years and years and years. Sure, you might have to wait a few minutes while the pitcher shakes off a few signs and the batter takes three pitches in a row. But just be patient – it will happen.