Thursday, August 16, 2007

Baseball: nerdiest of the professional sports?

My nerves are on edge. I’m watching too much ESPN. Whole minutes of my day are spent thinking about Kenny Rogers’ left elbow, keeping my fingers crossed that it heals well and fast. The signs are clear: my Detroit Tigers are in the middle of a pennant race.

I’ve been a baseball fan since I was seven years old. It’s a sport that suits my nerdy tendencies well. First off, there are miles and miles of statistics to obsess over. How’s Ordonez’s O.B.P. looking? (It’s looking very nice, thank you.) What about Justin Verlander’s W.H.I.P? Will Grilli ever get his E.R.A. down? There’s enough acronyms there to choke a H.O.R.S.E (Hoofed Oat-eating Running Sassy Equine).

Then there’s the athleticism of some of the players. I’m not knocking any of them. A lot of baseball players are stellar, stellar athletes in tip-top shape. Just watch a diving catch by centerfielder Curtis Granderson or one of third baseman Brandon Inge’s rib-crushing dives into the stands and you’ll see some guys in peak physical condition. On the other hand, baseball is one of the few sports where the guy eating pork rinds and smoking a cigarette on the sofa might actually be right when he says, “I could do that.” Sure, he couldn’t do it for very long, but he could probably catch a ball and maybe bunt or something. The same can’t be said for hockey or football or basketball. So as a nerdy person with limited physical skill and dexterity, I’ve always looked on baseball players as one of my own.

You’ve also got the length of the season – it lasts eight months if you include spring training. Imagine if Battlestar Galactica actually ran for eight straight months and then ended with a super-huge seven-episode World Series of sci-fi bliss. How awesome would that be? Pretty awesome. And that’s what you get with baseball. You get plenty of time to obsess on all the intricate details of the game. You speculate and talk with other fans. You can’t wait for each new series and you can’t help but grow more and more attached to your favorite players as you follow their ups and downs. It’s just like following a favorite TV show except when you wear a baseball jersey no one makes fun of you and accuses you of living in your parents’ basement.

So there it is: the reason my blood pressure’s getting higher and my nerves are starting to fray. My Tigers are in the pennant race and the nerd in me won’t be satisfied ‘til they win it all.

11 comments:

moggy said...

Yes, baseball's very, very nerdy...that's maybe why I've been slowly falling in love with it. ;)

Go Red Sox!

Liz said...

If my Tigers don't make it to the playoffs, I'll definitely be rooting for the Red Sox. They're my kind of team!

Anonymous said...

...against the Mets, I presume?

Liz said...

I'd love for the Mets to go to the World Series. Or the Cubs. I'm all about the underdogs.

Shan said...

"Mets?" METS?!! Are you kidding Liz? I hope that was sarcasm. There is no way in hell they are considered "underdogs" (any more than Jason Lee's voice coming out of a real pooch -- no matter how they try to sell us that). They were 90% of the expert picks to win the East, and a consensus favorite to win the NL pennant. They have a HUGE payroll over $100 million. Doesn't sound like a scrappy underdog to me. (Oddly, the only NL payroll higher than the Mets was your other "underdog" -- the Cubs, after their off season spending spree on players and manager). Despite the top NL payroll, there is an "emotional" and historical component to the Cubbies being underdogs, goat curse and Bartman and such being considered. But the METS?!!! Ugh.

At this point I should probably note that I'm a die-hard Braves fan. ;-)

National League version of the Yankees aside, I do wholeheartedly agree with your theory that baseball is the nerdiest of the sports. It started the whole fantasy ("rotisserie") craze, lives and dies with stats, and has more geeky and arcane measurements than any other sport. It lacks the violence of the NFL (unless you're Jose Offerman) and its history and legacy is quoted/cherished by die-hards just like Trekkers who know what drug McCoy got injected with in The City on the Edge of Forever (that would be Cordrazine).

Yep -- it's geeky. And wonderfully so.

Liz said...

What I meant was, historically the Mets and the Cubs have been viewed as underdogs. I should also come clean and say that I know far less about the National League than the American League because I only have the mental fortitude to worry about who the Tigers have to beat. So whoever the NL sends over to play in the World Series is fine with me as long as they have nice uniforms. And as a peace offering, may I just say I've always liked the Braves' pitching staff, especially John Smoltz. They're very good. Almost as good as our guys. :-)

Anonymous said...

Don't count out the Cardinals either. They start a 4 game series at Chicago today. Great post Liz. I'm getting pennant fever too as the Cards have come out of nowhere to be only 2.5 game out of first!

Cards fan forever!
Spencer

SFG said...

The Mets are underdogs compared to that other New York team, the Yankees, who have almost half again as much payroll as the next team down...the Red Sox, who are really just underdogs because they're in the same league as the Yankees.

The problem is that baseball's lack of a salary cap allows large cities to buy the best team because of their larger fan base.

Shan said...

Okay. Detente. We can agree on John Smotlz. Great guy, originally a Tiger (Doyle Alexander Trade, which worked out for everyone) and from MI. And a "lifetime Brave" with great stuff. And despite the stints with the Pirates (and he who shall not be mentioned) and the Marlins, I love Jim Leyland, because he's a good manager and he smokes even more than me. And hell, Thomas Magnum wore a Tigers hat! So I would be all in favor of a Braves/Tigers series, as long as aliens kidnap Gary Sheffield (hate).

Fair enough? ;-)

Liz said...

Fair enough. :-)

Winnie said...

not nerdy ladies...those boys are all cute...
we have the same infatuation with Hockey where I come from