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Down the Right Field Line

What is Great About Baseball

I'm sure that I, like just about everyone else, is tired of winter already. Here in Sioux City, IA we've already recieved over 45 inches of snow and been through 2 ice storms. Snow drifts were once routinly 10 ft. high. It makes me sick to drive by our minor leauge stadium everyday and not be able to see the field. So I'm sure that I'm not the only one who is longing for Opening Day, but believe it or not it is not that long until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. (About 8 days in fact.)

I've already saved up for, and planned, my summer baseball road trips for this summer. So this got me thinking... What makes baseball so great... What is it that makes baseball fans so much more passionate than any other sport?... What makes baseball a religon? (I always say that I have 2 religons: Christianity and Baseball.) And Finally what is it that makes me love the game so much?

So let's first start with the history of the game. (I'm not talking about the players, the teams, or the Hall of Fame. I could talk for weeks about each of those things. They are just as much a part of why I love the game, but this thing has to be reasonably long. So, since we all know about them let's just leave it alone today.) Baseball was invented sometime in the 1760s and was a variation of a British stick and ball game called Rounders.

Since then Baseball has been as American as Apple Pie. It has survived countless wars, 2 depressions, racism, communism, natural disasters, shootings, assasinations, the juiced ball era (Which turned out to be the juiced player era), and terrorist attacks.

Since the game was invented, some 250 years ago, the U.S. has gone from being a tiny little baby, not even named the U.S., to the strongest man in the world. Baseball has grown and changed with the United States too. Settlers brought it with them on their journey West. It was played on the sandlots of the old west. It was played in the middle of cornfields on the plains. It was played on the barren ground of the Dust Bowl. And while the rules have changed (It once took 7 balls for a walk and 4 strikes for a K) the game has remained the same at heart.

We've found strength in it during times of peace and war. It helped us limp through the Great Depression. It has been there anytime we needed to take our mind off the harsh reality of the real world and focus on something simpler. No matter what anyone says Baseball is truly America's Past time!

Second, I love the stratagy. Baseball may not be the most physical of sports, but it is by far the most strategic. So many little details make all of the difference. What if a pitcher stays in too long. What if he makes one wrong pitch. What if he makes that same wrong pitch only 5 times over the course of a 162 game schedule, but those 5 pitches cost his team 5 games. What if a batter guesses right on a good pitch. Even what if an umpire has a bad game in a huge game. These are just a few of the scenarios that can happen throughout the course of a baseball season. And before I move on, the battle between the batter and the pitcher is one that I can only compare to Wrestling. Batter staring down pitcher and pitcher staring down batter. Both thinking "what is he thinking" The pitcher stands stone faced trying to not give a clue of what he is throwing. The batter waits patiently thinking of the pitch to come. The pitcher releases the ball and the batter sees it!!!! Then...

Third, I love ballhawking because it gives me an excuse to go to my ballpark every night. It gives me a chance to feel history. It gives me a chance to meet some amazingly nice ballplayers. It brought me closer to the game. It made me love baseball even more than I already did. I love the feeling of getting a ball... Stalking the prey and playing our cards just right to get the kill! I love running down home runs! And I still remember the feeling when I got my first bat!

Finaly I love baseball because... well because it is fun! I think we can all agree that there is nothing like being at a baseball field on a bright sunny afternoon. I love: the crunch of the dirt under my feet,being in a sea of grass in the outfield, getting a hit, making a diving catch on a ball hit in the gap, (As an umpire) making a called 3rd Strike and screaming the words " STRIKE 3" while doing my famous punch out (Ok, I stole C.B. Buckner's). I love everything about the game and the game loves me.

Baseball has been good to me. It's a sport I've played since I was 5. It's given me heros to look up to (My favorite player from age 5-11 was Sammy Sosa!). And then taught me how to see the sins of my heros. It gave me a hobby that turned into a passion. And finally it taught me lifelong lessons. It has showed me right from wrong. And it taught me how to be a better human being. See, baseball is a game that makes young boys into old men and old men into young boys. It transcends all ages. It is passed down from father to son generation to generation. While the game may not be played like it was in 1760, when it was invented, it is still the same game at heart. The game has changed and evolved over time. It has brought us through wars and terrorist attacks. It has been, and always will be America?s past time! And that is why I love the game! That is why I ballhawk!

Phil Joens is a contributing columnist to and also maintains a Blog.

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