October 19, 2012

The National Pastime Indeed

By - Keith Smith

My best friend and I have spent the past 2 days arguing baseball.

We do that a lot.

Should the Yankees bench $50 million in yearly salaries during the playoffs because those guys aren't hitting worth a lick?

Photo by: Paul Sancya
Was the roll-block by Matt Holliday a dirty play, and should the Giants pitching staff have taken justice into their own hands and stuck one in his ear? And if so, should it have been done in that game, or wait until next year when the game was less important than it is during the playoffs?

Are the Cardinals fans the best in all of baseball?

The answers to these questions aren't really important. They are open to argument. There are no right or wrong answers -- only opinions.

But that's the beauty of sports, and especially baseball. It generates discussion (sometimes heated, depending on your passion level), arguments, philosophical positioning...and friendships.

Why does baseball lend itself to this type of interaction, perhaps more than other sports?

One reason is the number of lulls during a game. There isn't constant action, like in hockey or basketball.

It's easier to carry on a conversation when a batter comes up, takes three or four practice swings, knocks dirt off his cleats, digs and scratches up the batter's box (front and back), tightens his batting gloves, steps out to take a sign from his coach, takes a few more practice swings, cracks his neck, scratches himself (dude, you're on TV!), then finally steps in, only to see the pitcher now step off, grab the rosin bag, wipe his hand on his pants, adjust his hat, spit, take the sign from his catcher, scratch himself (seriously?), then go into his windup.

You have to have something to talk about, or you'll go mad.

Another reason is that baseball, more than any other sport, cherishes its history. It's built on statistics and records, unwritten rules and codes of conduct.

It's long been called "The Thinking Man's Game," because of all these things.

There have been more books written about baseball than any other sport, and more songs too. There is a reason it's known as "The National Pastime."

When my buddy and I get together, either in person or on the phone, you can be sure that baseball will be one of the many subjects we will touch on -- even during the offseason. But during the playoffs, it's probably going to be the opening topic, and quite possibly, the closing topic.

And maybe it'll come up somewhere in the middle, too.


  1. Nice to see there are other people out there that still appreciate the game of baseball.