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When Baseball Loves You Back

When I get home from work it is typically around 8:30 am CST or Correct Standard Time for you laypeople. Most days I have a routine I follow to get stuff done around the house. Usually, this is the one time of day when baseball is not a concern. There’s no Major League Baseball game about to start, and all the Asian leagues I follow have already finished playing. Even if I’m only planning on using the game for idle background noise, it’s not an option because there is no game.

I say usually because every now and then I am thrown for a loop by a game being streamed from somewhere unexpected. I get the notification on my phone that some channel I subscribed to some time ago is streaming some baseball game or another. It doesn’t matter where the game is being streamed from, though it’s usually Europe or South America, I cast it to my family room TV and I have the idle background noise that helps with the organizing, cleaning, writing, etc. of the day for reasons I will never understand.

As I first cast the game it’s always familiar. A small baseball field, a far cry from the MLB stadiums we’re used to and even well removed from the minor league and independent stadiums in more recognizable leagues. A field is a field though, and a quick glance at the screen reveals the requisite number of players, umpires, and even the now all too familiar score bug at the bottom, or sometimes top, of the screen. Baseball is underway and so is my morning routine.

I return to the game for moments here and there. I never really watch an entire game, though I hear the entire game and try to work on understanding the language used in the broadcast. Whenever I do turn my eyes to the screen I am reminded of why baseball is so easy to fall in love with. Fun is being had, skill is being displayed, and teams are trying to win a game. I see an outfielder misjudge a fly ball or a baserunner who forgets that he needs to tag up on a sacrifice. I also see the look on a young pitcher’s face as he throws a sharply devastating curveball for the first time.  The baseball I see in these little moments is very raw and full of mistakes, but it is just as endearing and joyous to watch.

The baseball I am watching on these routine filled mornings may not be of the best quality in terms of what we have become accustomed to in the big leagues. That’s not to say it’s bad though, because it most certainly is anything but bad. My morning routine baseball is the grassroots of baseball in countries where baseball is still relatively new and growing. What I am getting to witness is the growth of a love for baseball in real-time. I often wonder what it would have been like to be around in the 1800s when baseball as we know it first started to form. My wonder has turned into a realization; the early stages baseball I am seeing on these rare mornings is the baseball of the 1800s.

Errors abound, rules are not that hardwired, enthusiasm is everywhere, and all the while a genuine love for the game is present. This is how baseball grew to be the greatest sport of them all. Sponsorships, big corporate money, and a neverending desire for stats aren’t at the heart of baseball. A love for the game is what matters first and foremost. When I get to see that love expressed in countries and leagues that are brand new to the game I am reminded every single time of why I love baseball so much and the many ways in which it loves me back.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), boyfriend, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Baseball Prospectus, Baseball.FYI, & Beyond the Box Score. Member Internet Baseball Writer's Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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