We are 73 games played into the 2015 season of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. My guess is that I have watched at least 60 of those games. This alone is unbelievable. It has to be the most time I have ever devoted in my entire life observing a sporting event. It’s not that I don’t like sports, it’ just that I am not a particular fan of any one sport or team and never watch any sporting event with regularity. That all changed this summer.
Last spring I decided I wanted to follow the entire season of one baseball team. I would become a fan, root for the team and maybe even purchase some team gear. Why did I do this? I’m not sure, can’t exactly remember, but that’s not unusual anymore at my age. I can’t seem to remember a lot of things I do anymore. But it makes no nevermind; it’s been an interesting endeavor.
For those who haven’t read my previous postings on this project, I will explain that I asked my friend and baseball expert, Ron, to pick a team that I should follow. I gave him a few prerequisites and conditions. He selected the Cubs as my team. So I unofficially adopted them and I’ve been watching their games all season.
I remind you that my understanding of the game of baseball is very basic. I know a player hits the ball with a bat and then runs like hell attempting to touch as many of the three bases as possible and to “get home” before one of the opposing players gets hold of the ball and can tag him out. Going on concurrently with all this activity are at least a gazillion minor and major strategies, skill sets, decisions and luck that come into play, thus making the game of baseball unpredictable and—at times—fascinating to watch.
The Cubs are made up of a group of unusually young players compared to most teams. In fact, one player is the youngest in the league. But as young as they are, their skills often exceed those of much more seasoned teams. They have ranked as high as #2 in their league and had a lock on a wild card position for the Championship World Series at the end of the season. A few losses this past week have set them back and they have lost ground.
Currently, the Cubs are playing a series of games with the St.Louis Cardinals who happen to be solidly in first place. It has been during these particular matchups that I—the ever amateur, half-with-it observer—have noticed a huge difference when you see a good team play the game vs. the “okay” team I’ve been observing since spring. The Cardinals definitely know how to play baseball and they have presented me and my Cubs a humbling and grueling experience to go through the past several days.
As you may guess, I have begun to form some opinions, maybe even conclusions, about this baseball experiment I’ve put myself through these past three months for reasons I no longer remember. Here are some observations in no particular order or ranking:
- Baseball is a sport that requires a good chunk of time, although you do not have to be locked into every minute of the game. You can watch it and still do other things at the same time. During some games I’ve written a posting for this blog; paid my bills; worked on fixing some things on my websites; read the newspaper; eaten a meal; folded laundry; cleaned my desk; fallen asleep; etc.
- Each player seems to be especially good at one thing, pretty good at some others and maybe lousy at one.
- I realize it would be annoying to knowledgeable baseball fans, but it would be helpful and educational to people like me if there was more time devoted to explaining the subtleties of game while it is in progress. I am not sure how this could be achieved but I am reminded how much I learned about football when John Madden did his little chalk drawing tutorials to explain an interesting play. Often the announcers will say there’s been a shift in the positioning of the in- or out-fielders when a particular player comes to bat or the bases have players on them in a particular alignment. I usually have no understanding why.
- All the venues copy from each other. They all have an organ player (why not a trumpet?) and they all play the same songs, cheers, chants, etc. Also, they all have a mascot of some sort who does the same things all the other mascots do and they all use the same graphics on their big jumbo screens. These are not criticisms, just observations.
- And, since I spent my entire career in broadcasting, I will add that some of the announcer teams are enjoyable and do a good job of keeping the viewer/listener involved in the game and knowing, basically, what’s going on. Others suck.
- I went to one game when the Cubs came to my town and played the hometown team. I had a good time, but much like football, going to the game provides one kind of environment and atmosphere…television provides an entirely different one. If you really want to watch the game itself and know what is happening as it is being played, then stay home and turn on the TV—it does a lot better job of covering the game itself than you will experience going to the ballpark.
- And finally, despite my earlier take a few months back, baseball players still spit a lot. True, there has been an effort to lessen the spitting, but it’s still there and still noticeable….and still disgusting.
Okay, those are all my notes to date…Go Cubbies!
Here’s my pitch to say thanks to those players who spent some time on base with one of my recent postings…you are all a home run in my book: Teri Griffin, Lanie Hyman Shapiro, Kathleen Neiman, Ed Nowak, Roni Komie, and the ever-loyal Emma-I-miss-you-when-you-disappear-for-months-Snow.