I mean it.
It’s something I tell myself every year. This is going to be the year that I pay attention to the MLB. I’m going to invest time in watching games on TV. I’m going to know my team’s lineup like the back of my hand. I’m going to memorize stats and patterns and dig into the data.
Why I’ve had no success immersing myself in the sport so far eludes me. My dad was a baseball star in high school. I remember him telling me stories of Sandlot-style games with his friends, out on the dirt patch behind his house in Pasadena, Texas. I remember cringing when he recalled using the cast on his broken arm as a bat, and busting it wide open. And I also remember the glove he gave me—the one we oiled and stuffed under my mattress, cupping a baseball and wrapped with a rubber band. After a few days, we took it out and spent hours tossing the ball back-and-forth.
I even joined a team…for a season. It was one of those leagues where everybody played every position. I don’t remember excelling at any one position, but I know I struck a few batters out with my lobbing slow-ball.
I also love going to baseball games. You can’t beat a warm afternoon with friends, beer, hotdogs and baseball. It doesn’t matter where in the ballpark you sit—you’re going to have a good time. When I lived in DC, I was mere blocks from Nationals Park. We’d grab tickets for $7 the day of the game and walk over after getting home from work. Those are some of my favorite memories from that time in my life.
Even the mentality of baseball and its fans appeals to me. Will Leitch wrote a great piece for Sports on Earth: “Baseball’s Epic Saga Begins Again.” In it, Leitch reveres baseball’s unique ability to provide all the joy of winning without the despair of losing.
Understanding that just one game is a tiny cog in a larger machine doesn’t take away the fun of winning, because that’s going to be there no matter what; it just eases the sting of losing. Understanding that no one game makes that much of a difference allows you to just bask in the enjoyment of the thing. It lets you have fun.
And for a sports fan like me, baseball provides the most airtime of any of the major sports. From April to November, it’s on all the time.
With all that in mind, it only makes sense for me to commit to the sport. The first question that arises, then, is who to cheer for. I’ve now lived in three places; and having never taken a deep dive into baseball, I’ve never felt totally attached to a team.
Having spent the majority of my life in Colorado, the obvious frontrunner is the Rockies. Usually the underdog, the Rockies haven’t had a winning record since 2010. They haven’t been to the postseason since 2009, and they’ve only been to the World Series once—in 2007 (when they were swept by the Boston Red Sox). This year, they’re starting at 29th in Bleacher Report’s power rankings. But I like cheering for the little guy.
I became a “fan” of the Nationals when I lived in Washington, DC. Like I said, I lived right next to the stadium, so it was easy. I got to know and admire the players, like Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon. Plus, the Nationals are huge World Series favorites this year, and it’s always fun to see your team win big.
Or, I could cheer for my new home team: the Minnesota Twins. I know nothing about their team (but I could); experts aren’t expecting them to do much this season (but they could); and the pitcher that was supposed to bring them some hope was just suspended 80 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (though he will be spending his time off fighting child sexual abuse).
Though I’ll likely only fall in love just to have my heart broken, I think the Rockies have to be my team. I’ve never shown enough love for the teams of my home state (I ditched the Broncos for the Packers when I was 7, I’m a fickle Nuggets fan, and I have the same problem with hockey as I’m trying to overcome with baseball), and this can be the start to remedying that. I’ll attend plenty of Twins games, and I’ll be happy if the Nationals win the World Series; but it’s with the Rockies that I’ll begin my new relationship with baseball.
Let’s play ball!