It's not common for a Portuguese sports fan to like baseball. Even though there is a National championship, a National team, and now even a proper baseball park, it still is a largely forgotten sport in Portugal.
So, how did I become addicted to the American pastime?
I'm not sure you can become addicted to baseball before watching it live, so it must have been last year, when I went to the most beautiful ball park in the world: AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Even though it was a preseason game against the Oakland A's on a rainy night, I fell in love with baseball, particularly with "that" sound: the sound of the bat hitting the ball on a perfect hit.
If baseball could be reduced to a single moment, that would be it. For as much as I love watching a dominating pitcher like Tim Lincecum sending hitters back to the dugout after consecutive strikeouts, I still don't think there's anything like that magic sound. In any sport.
But there's so much more about the game.
The constant dilemma players face is fascinating, something you can only find in baseball. Every single player on the field is thinking in terms of options available. The pitcher and the catcher need to decide whether they should go for a ball or a strike, and which type of pitch to use, from the "stuff" the pitcher has.
For the hitter, it's between hitting or not, and if hitting, where to and how. It is from the combination of these individual dilemmas that we have a ball game. Fascinating stuff...
The only thing that strikes me about baseball is the fact that it is the "American game."
American sports are fast paced, with lots of action involved and tend to fit the schedules of a nation obsessed with work. Not baseball. It is slow. You might not have a lot of action (particularly with the Giants, where a game might finish 1-0 without the winning team having had a single hit...), and it certainly does not fit the working schedule (it either starts too early or ends too late) during weekdays.
Maybe these are the reasons that have made American football so much more popular in recent years. The wrong reasons I would argue. As someone said about cricket and football (soccer), where watching the latter is like watching an entertaining movie, cricket is like reading a good book. The same, I think, applies to baseball and American football.
Fortunately, baseball does not seem in such a bad shape, aside from its current steroid problems. The number of people attending games during weekdays and working hours is quite high, and new ball parks seem to be given the sport an extra boost of popularity.
At the end of the day, there is no reason why Americans can't watch entertaining movies and read good books at the same time. They should just never forget the sound, "that" sound, because there is nothing like it.