In lieu of this week’s Bin Fodder I am want to take this opportunity to achieve two things. First: introduce you to a new venture I am bringing to the site – Geeks on Sports, which as the title implies will be about sports. Second: spend some time on this grand American holiday talking about America’s past time; Baseball. Rest assured, my review of Wildstorm/DC Comics The Authority will continue next week.
Next week is the Major League Baseball (MLB) all-star game (broadcast on Fox television). The first MLB all-star game was held right here in Chicago in 1933 at the old Comiskey Field and has happened every year since, with the lone exception of 1945 when it was not held. In all 82 all-star games have been held with the American League winning 38 times and the National League taking home 42 victories. If you’re quick you have already realized that math doesn’t add up. I’m getting there.
Back in 2002 the game ended in a 7-7 tie in extra innings. The game was called due to the fact that they had insufficient players to continue. This is a result of the fact that because of the current climate of severely over-paid professional athletes no one wants their prize player potentially getting injured in a “meaningless” game. Thus; the starting field players only play a few innings, pitchers even less – fostering more potential ties. Everyone was up in arms after the tie in 2002, but they failed to recognize this had happened previously: back in 1961 the game also ended in a tie.
Baseball is a silly game where the pitcher stands on an elevated dirt pile called a “mound” which exists sixty feet, six inches from home plate. Home plate is the area that the batter stands on either the left or right side of (depending on their natural swing style) but must remain within the designated batter’s box. Home plate serves a dual purpose: it acts as the scoring disk for runs but also acts as the guideline for the calling of balls and strikes. Batters are allotted a certain number of balls and strikes before additional action is taken without them making contact with the ball. If a batter receives three strike pitches (pitches that cross home plate within the imaginary designated square space above home plate) from the pitcher, he is out. If the batter receives four ball pitches (pitches that do not cross home plate within previously said area) he receives a walk, allowing him to go to first base automatically.
That is a basic and very simple explanation of the role batters and pitchers play in a game of baseball. Yet, such a complicated and ridiculous thing makes perfect sense to someone who grew up watching or playing the game. I once attempted to learn and understand the game of Cricket. My failure at doing so only helped to emphasize the ridiculousness of some of the sports I intuitively knew as a person who grew up playing any number of sports like soccer, tennis, baseball, basketball and many more.
I’ve spent much of my life explaining sports to girls and nerds alike as I am one who straddles that line of being a guy who is equal parts nerd and jock. This is the impetus of Geeks on Sports.
But, back to the baseball all-star game.
All-star games are meant to be an opportunity for the sport to display its best players and give the fans something to be excited about. Fans are even allowed to vote for their favorite players in an effort to get them into the game. This sometimes results in players who are either A) injured or B) not truly worthy anymore being selected for the team. Such is the case this year with injured L.A. Dodger player Matt Kemp. A replacement will be named for him for the game, meaning an extra player will “earn” the title of All Star.
The all-star game is much more than just a baseball game, there are a host of events that MLB has created to garner the attention and interest of fans. The most popular by far is the Homerun Derby. Each player is attached to a fan who, if their player wins, will be the recipient of some prize. In recent years it’s been a house. The player gets a trophy. Seems like a fair trade off.
I will probably watch most of if not all of both next week because I am something of a sports junkie. If you’ve never watched a baseball game before, this is a great one to jump on board with, though you will be spoiled. Since this is the cream of the crop, after this watching a regular game may seem blasé. I still recommend giving it a chance; the game may seem slow on television and riddled with too many commercial breaks, but it’s definitely a great sport to get out and watch. And with so many minor league teams (there are three different levels of minor leagues and in Single A – the lowest level – each major league team has several teams) it’s almost inevitable that there is a baseball team near you.
It is my hope that you enjoyed your first taste of Geeks on Sports. There will be much more of me in the coming weeks as the London Olympics get into full swing so be on the lookout for that!
For now, enjoy your American Independence day, even if you’re not American and even if you’re not in America. Be safe and try not to eat too many hot dogs (unless you’re in that Hot Dog eating contest, then you should probably ignore me).