The Game

We are now a week into the 2017 baseball season. My high school team is 2-0, the Mets are 2-3 due to a lackluster offense, and surprisingly the Diamondbacks and Twins have the two best records in the MLB.

During the winter, exciting basketball games make me forget about how great baseball is. Baseball seems to beckon the summer, as it comes with warmer weather and the school year winding down.

The complexity of the game makes other sports seem so simple. Of course, every sport comes down to the little things. However, I can’t think of a sport with more little things than baseball. If the pitcher had gotten that sacrifice bunt down to move the runner to third, the fly ball would have scored a run. If that 0-2 curveball was in the dirt and not left in the strike zone, maybe the hitter wouldn’t have hit a home run.

I could go on and on. Moreover, when you have less than a second to decide if the small sphere coming in at 90 miles per hour is a ball or strike, and then manage to put a good swing on it. That is, if it’s a fastball. It could also be a curveball, cutter, slider, changeup, or even a knuckleball. Point is, getting a hit 3 out of every 10 times is considered great for a reason.

Then comes the mental part. Having struggled with the mental part of the game myself, I know a few things about it. Knowing what to do on every pitch, being able to interpret signs, and being able to anticipate the play aren’t even that hard compared to the most challenging aspect of baseball: having a short memory.

Baseball is a hard game. It was built like that for a reason. When you strikeout, are you gonna be able to put it behind you, or are you gonna be thinking about it during your next at bat? If it’s the latter, chances are you’re going to strike out again. Baseball is different from basketball, soccer, hockey, and lacrosse in terms of time when the ball is in play.

Baseball games usually range from two and a half hours to three and a half. Out of that time period, the baseball is in play (on average) for about 20 minutes. If you have a calculator, you’ll notice that there’s quite a bit of time when it’s just you and your mind. While the ball isn’t in play, it is so easy to replay your last strikeout or error in your head, and dwell on it for way too long. Doing that is suicide. If you’re dwelling on your past failures, rather than confidently approaching the upcoming pitch, chances are you’re gonna make another error.

All of that being said, baseball is incredibly hard – which makes it so fun when you succeed. I’ve basically been playing with most of my teammates since we were 8 years old, and this is our last year together. The first month and half has been a blast, and our bond helped us come together and rally to score 7 unanswered runs to beat Nutley 7-2. I’m really excited and looking forward to the rest of the spring and (of course) the summer.

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2 thoughts on “The Game

  1. Jacob, this column is absolutely the best you have ever written. I am so impressed with not only your knowledge of the game but also your ability to express it’s inherent beauty to all of us who love the game. Bravo!

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