Sunday, December 31, 2006

For The Love Of The Game

On a clear, comfortable night, there is nothing better than sitting in a ballpark and watching a baseball game. Of course, even on a crappy, cold and dreary night, baseball can still provide an excellent evening of entertainment.

The sounds of the game: the "CRACK!" & "WHACK!" of bat hitting ball, the "Smack" and "THUMP" of a hard thrown ball hitting a mitt; The ROAR of the crowd when something exciting is in the making. Those sounds are a joy to hear--soothing to the mind. "Get Your PROOOOGRAM!!", "COLD BEER, HERE!!". Background noise, that brings comfort and familiarity to every single ballpark.

I love the perfect geometry of the field. Whomever came up with 90 feet between the bases was one of the greatest geniuses of all time. Perfect symmetry, on a grass and dirt diamond, that stands out far more, in beauty, than any football field, basketball court or hockey rink--imaginable. And, the fact that baseball has no time limit, like most every other major sport, makes baseball a very special game.

No matter what the score, I will never leave a game until the very last out. Even if my team is down 14-2, in the bottom of the ninth (and Our Washington Nationals did a fine job of attempting this feat, many times, in 2006), you never know what FANTASTIC, never before seen event, you might miss, if you leave early. In most every game, and as you obviously know, I go to each and every Nationals Home Game possible, something happens you may have never seen, or see again in your lifetime. That's the beauty of baseball.

If our Washington Nationals have struggled all night long, but remained within 3 runs, they still have a chance in the bottom of the 9th. And, if the Nationals have a 5 run lead in the 9th, with "The Chief" on the mound, you better remain, with your fanny glued to your seat, as no lead is too safe for Chad Cordero. No game is over, until that final out is recorded. And that, makes baseball so very, very special.

Baseball is a game you can discuss, not only well after the game is over, but during the actual contest you are watching, at that very moment. There is a terrific ebb and flow to the game. Between each and every pitch, there is a pause. During each and every hit or out, there is a pause. This fabulous rhythm allows for audience participation, like no other. Whether you are chatting with friends sitting next to you, or screaming your lungs out at the latest bonehead move by your team, there is time to express yourself.

No game, in American History, has developed so many "EXPERTS" of the game. Baseball is studied by millions, and enjoyed year round. No sport, like baseball, has a "HOT STOVE" League. A Winter Solstice that allows year round yakking, ranting and commenting on, not only your team, but every other MLB TEAM. Baseball is an engrossing topic, and as everyone that reads the Nats Blogs well knows--is followed closely--as tight, and as closely to our chests, as our very own family members health and well being. Baseball is shared and passed on through generation after generations of family. As a youngster, we learn the game from our parents and grandparents. And, as we advance to parenthood, we involve our children the same way our parents did, with us, years earlier. Then, the entire process goes full circle as we reach the GOLDEN YEARS, passing down all that we have learned, throughout a lifetime of games, to our grandchildren. That's the Joy of Baseball--the great equalizer.

Baseball fans, Nationals Fans, and Nats Bloggers all LOVE THE GAME. There is no way we would all be so engulfed in even the most basic of moves and news, if we weren't all totally FANATIC over the sport. Baseball has drawn us all in. We are addicts, and we love it, every single minute of the day.

And, like no other sport, Baseball History and Statistics mean so very much. Only in Baseball can you compare different seasons and generations of the game. Only in Baseball, can you decide whether Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken or Albert Pujols was, or is, the GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME. Only in baseball can average, mediocre players, become ICONS in their community, because of their steadfast enjoyment of the game and their community involvement. Only in baseball, do you and I, as fans, count off the number of Stadiums we have witnessed games. We all want to attend a game at each and every Baseball Stadium. I have 3 more to check off my list, how about you? All this, makes baseball so memorable.

Baseball is the only sport that, to the most minute level, you can compare hitting and pitching stats, and make a reasonable conclusion; Who is the better or worse player? Baseball is the only sport that you can truly get a feeling of what a player is like, in person. Is that guy a Jerk, or not? . There is a tremendous amount of Fan participation with every single player. How many times have you seen a Nationals player signing autographs along the third baseline at RFK Stadium in the first two seasons of Our NATS? Like every single game. This closeness allows for baseball to be VERY PERSONAL.

With 162 games each and every season, all of us have the opportunity to be happy, sad, live or die, throughout a six month season, on a daily basis. In baseball, you can totally suck and be blown away by 10 runs one night, then turn around the very next day and win--and that terrible loss is forgotten--forever. Baseball is very, very addictive-yes, intoxicating..

Whether its Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even RFK Stadium, there is nothing like sitting in the stands, looking down on that luscious green grass, in all its geometric beauty--and watching a baseball game.

We all enjoy this ritual each and every year, from April through October. From the very first signs of spring, to the early signs of Winter, baseball brings us all together.

All For The Love Of The Game.

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