Home Is Where the Ballpark Is

Joe D.Analyst IJuly 10, 2008

ESPN recently had an article about the demolition of Tiger Stadium and asked a few lifelong Tigers fans how they felt.

My apologies for not finding the exact quote, but to paraphrase he said, "I've been to 600+ baseball games and it's just a shame to see the outfield wall demolished". 

In terms of revenue, fantasy sports, and a lack of a "major" steroid scandal, one could say that the NFL has surpassed the MLB as America's No. 1 sport. However, you almost can't go through the history of America without mentioning baseball. 

Baseball is special. Most of us grew up watching it, appreciating the facets of the game, and how a game could be defined on failure (such as three hits out of 10 at-bats makes you a potential All-Star) could be so beautiful. Nothing says summer like a relaxing day at a ballpark with a beverage and a hot dog. 

Baseball is almost like a gene. I know people my age who are such diehard sports fans, but their parents are just casual. But with baseball, it's very difficult to find a fan who didn't have a special bond with a family member when it comes to the game. 

While I enjoy a great game of football (or six per week), the adrenaline of the game gets to your head. The complexity of certain schemes could drive some fans to the asylum as they try to warp their minds around it. 

But in baseball? It can be a calming experience and just as enjoyable on the radio as it is to watch. Yes, there will be a shifts thrown out at certain batters but most fans understand the concept of double-play depth. 

(WARNING: The next four paragraphs deal with a lame, sentimental thought.  Feel free to skip it and continue reading the article.)

Maybe I'm thinking too deep, but this thought has swirled through my head. Aging and baseball may have a connection. As I get older and reach more milestones (graduation is coming up next June and hopefully I'll earn my license in August), it starts to click why sometimes we disagree a bit. 

When I was younger, I watched SportsCenter constantly (still can recall Stu Scott shouting RAUUUULLL MONDESIII!), but also loved Thomas the Tank Engine of all cartoons. Lame, right?  However, I actually saw my mother looking sentimental while watching this simple TV show. 

My little cousin is two-years old and I occasionally see my mom trying to get him to watch Thomas. Maybe that's why we get obsessed with babies as we age. It's a relic from the past, when my parents could control what I could do. 

Now that leash, so to speak, is starting to get looser and looser. I'm closer to getting my own life completely than graduating preschool. It's almost like we may want to try reliving the past, maybe just for a few hours, and recreate what it was like in simpler times.

When the biggest worry was, "When will he say his first words?", instead of "I hope he comes home safely." Could that be why so many people love baseball and the stadium?

Baseball is a game predicated on simplicity. You get hit by a pitch? Go to first. You get a hit? Go to first. Hit the ball over the fence? Awesome. Bring in Jose Mesa? You will lose. 

Baseball has a certain magical feel about it. We played when we were little, but it's almost like going back into a simpler era. You get to think of greats such as Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. Sure, football has its legends, but very few have that iconic appeal amongst fans that the players of the 1900s had.

But to come full circle. The ballpark is like a second home for most of us. It's almost like a retreat. Sure, you have your fair share of rowdy fans, but there isn't as much testosterone and hormones flowing. 

You can just get lost into the atmosphere of the game. There is a special feel about seeing a familiar ballpark restaurant or hanging in the fan zone. You get that feel at a minor-league baseball game or even the independent leagues (by the way, Shea Hillenbrand plays for the York Revolution?!? Awesome!).

It's the love of the game that drives these guys to play. 

Yes, there was and may still be a cloud of suspicion looming over the game. But remember, it wasn't always like that. It's hard to get past the fact that every home run or every strikeout thrown by a pitcher could have been tarnished. But maybe we can get back to the roots of the game.

Field of Dreams? Bull Durham? The Natural? All awesome movies of one of the greatest games to be played.

I still love football, NASCAR, IRL, hockey, basketball, college sports, track, and soccer a lot, but baseball is just...great.