The home stretch of the 2010 MLB season has arrived as division races heat up and teams begin to make their run at baseball glory. So in anticipation of these final weeks, here are nine reasons to love this sport, one for each inning.
1. No Time Limit
Unlike most sports, baseball has no time limit. That means it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and the excitement of an extra-inning ball game is second to none. Need proof? The longest recorded Major League game was on May 1, 1920. After 26 innings, Boston and Brooklyn ended with a 1-1 tie. Long enough for you? If not, in 1984 Chicago defeated Milwaukee 7-6 in a game that lasted eight hours and six minutes. This has become a hot-button topic as of late, but only because teams have begun to abuse not having a time limit. Let's just play the game and cut out all the cutesie stuff.
2. Who Needs Instant Replay?
In baseball, there is no challenge flag, no video booth so the umpire can take a second to look at a close play. From calling balls and strikes, fair or foul, safe or out, the game is completely under the umpire's control which adds to the fact that baseball is a gentlemen’s game, and that ultimately, you can only control how you play your game.
3. Its Unique Language
ERA, WHIP, OBP, SLG%, BA, SV, K, BB, E, IBB, H, R, IP, AB, LOB, HBP, W, L, CS, RBI, 1B, 2B, 3B, HR, GIDP, DP – just a few examples of the second language baseball players and fans know and love. Baseball is all about numbers. It’s an intelligent game, not for the weak-minded, but yet when you boil it down it’s quite simple. Hit the ball, field the ball, throw the ball, catch the ball.
4. The Presence of Failure
A 30 percent success rate in most sports isn’t considered productive. But in baseball, fail to get a hit seven out of ten times and you’re one of the better players in the game. In baseball how often you fail is less important than your timing when you do succeed.
5. It’s a Game of Inches
Sixty feet and six inches. That’s the exact distance from the pitching mound to home plate. The height of the mound, from the ground is 10 inches, and 17 inches is the width of home plate. And those are just regulations. Imagine the actual surface area while trying to hit a round ball with a round bat. The batter has only fractions of a second to react to a 96 mph fastball. Baseball is as precise as it comes.
6. Every Player Has a Large Role
Everyone matters on the 25-man roster. Whether he is the third guy off the bench or the lefty specialist in the bullpen, each comes into play in almost every game.
7. The Postseason
It’s what every team strives for during the year. It’s the common goal. Whether it’s winning the division, or getting the wild card, the prize for best of the rest, the light at the end of the tunnel is the postseason. This is where dreams are made, or broken.
8. The History of the Postseason
To faithful baseball fans, some names will ring in memory forever. They include, David Ortiz and his amazing 2004 playoff performance. Reggie Jackson, whose nickname is “Mr. October.” Joe Carter, for his heroic walk-off home run that allowed the Blue Jays to win the '93 World Series. Derek Jeter, for his many postseason records, and his back-handed flip to save a run, against the Athletics, in game 3 of the 2001 ALDS. Don Larson for his perfect game five in the 1956 World Series. And of course (sorry, Cubs fans) Steve Bartman, who proved that the Cubbie Curse is still very much alive. The postseason has the power to take a no-name utility player and turn him into a hero, one who will live on in baseball history.
9. Baseball Is Truly American
As American as the Fourth of July and apple pie, baseball is a game that represents the red, white, and blue. Not only is it widely accepted as America’s pastime, but its everlasting spell is alive in every father and son who play catch. Baseball is a game that embodies the American spirit. It’s about patience (waiting for that good pitch), perseverance (playing through a slump), and seizing any and all opportunities (stealing bases).
So there you have it, nine reasons to love this wonderful game we call baseball. Prepare yourself for another amazing finish to a truly competitive season, and enjoy the great American past-time.