Justin V

Tips for Appreciating Baseball?

21 posts in this topic

I have lived in Cleveland for 12 years and have since attended one MLB game in which the Indians were trounced.  It has probably been 20 years since I last attended a minor league game.  This Sunday we are going to a Lake County Captains (an Indians single A team) game.  We will be a few rows behind home plate.

As someone who has never gotten into watching baseball, do you have any tips for better appreciating it?  I am treating it as a cheap family outing that is something different to do.  I think my little girl (17 months old) is at least going to have fun yelling and clapping with everyone.

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To appreciate it means getting into the nitty gritty, imo. Like, since you are behind the plate, you can really see how pitchers work a batter - up and in then down and away; changing eye level, changing speeds.  And all (hopefully) with the same delivery and arm slot so the ball comes out the same but goes different places ...

I would think for a family that doesn't watch baseball to begin with, just enjoy the spectacle. Get a picture with the team mascot, there may be oddball promotions, etc ... If all else fails to keep her entertained, keep trying to start a wave(tm).

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I'm from the Cleveland area and a long-time fan. 

I think it's important to get to know the guys on the team.  The Indians are a pretty talented team, especially in pitching, and there are a lot of entertaining guys and very few basket cases.  We we were well-represented in the All-Star Game, despite the fact that we did lost several significant players in the off-season.  It's a good team and they stand a good chance of being in the playoffs once again.  

Get to know the skills and personalities of the players.  But of course that's much harder to do with the minor league clubs. But I know they try to get some fun stuff happening.

 

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Every game has its rhythm. It's not just about the ball, it's about all the players, all the bats, all the gloves, all the fans, all at once, endlessly. The better you can grasp the specifics, maybe the better you can catch that rhythm, but not necessarily. A good ball game is like a great jazz record, endless improvisational outcomes on general themes, and when the ball is in play, it's like Elvin & Trane, only baseball. So much going on, but all in sync, and one thing triggers the next.

You can get this on TV, but it's so much more organic in person.

But w/a 17 month old, make sure you're covered by the protective netting, even behind home plate.

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I'm with "just enjoy the spectacle".

I once went to a single-A (short season) game in the NY-Penn League and found it weird because the level of play was so much below major league. Many of the players were on their first pro contract, some probably using wood bats for the first time, and a lot of guys were having serious trouble hitting, even overmatched. Lake County is in the Midwest League (single-A full season), so the level will be slightly higher, but still not impressive. I had some fun playing make-believe scout and trying to judge which players had chances of advancing to the big leagues.

The game I attended was extremely kid-friendly, with lots of mascot activity, music, free souvenirs being tossed into the stands, etc.

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This is almost a question of why do we like baseball? It's in our blood, so to speak, passed down from parents to the kids.  I think one way to appreciate is to find a favorite team and follow them, their players, their ups and downs.  I think there is few things better than going to a ball game. It's an experience in and of itself that you can't translate into Tv.  There's the green grass, the buzz in the crowd, the crowd itself (who can be amazing with all the characters you might see), the action going on the field and I just don't just mean balls thrown, pitches hit (or not), balls caught and runs scored. You can see players talking to other players, kidding with each other, or yelling at each other. Like Jim said, it's organic, or an experience.  You feel alive, a feeling of rebirth. 

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I'm from Pittsburgh and born in 1954, so this has been in my blood almost my whole life, and bonds me to my ancestors:

 

Framed Bill Mazeroski - 1960 World Series Winning Home Run, sepia Print

And there's this...

Image result for james earl jones on baseball field of dreams

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First game I ever saw was probably the best - Andy Ashby shut out the Dodger$ for a 1-0 Padres win - no longer remember who he was up against. That was as tight a game as you will ever see, but I wasn’t familiar enough with baseball to really appreciate it. Got the hang of it more since then - Go Padres! - but the find points escape me, as they still do with cricket...

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37 minutes ago, David Ayers said:

First game I ever saw was probably the best - Andy Ashby shut out the Dodger$ for a 1-0 Padres win - no longer remember who he was up against. That was as tight a game as you will ever see, but I wasn’t familiar enough with baseball to really appreciate it. Got the hang of it more since then - Go Padres! - but the find points escape me, as they still do with cricket...

David,  

Perhaps you're slightly misremembering the game.  I can't find any 1-0 pitched by Andy Ashby over the Dodgers.  The closest is a 3-0 win by Ashby on April 16, 1999.  Ashby had a complete game shutdown.  He went all the way giving up 5 hits, striking out 8, and walking 2.  

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The thing I love about baseball is you can't run out a clock, you have to score and get the other team out at least 27 times. Unless a game is a total blowout, you can find yourself second guessing the manager: When to pinch-hit for the pitcher, pinch run for the slow catcher, when to hit and run, sacrifice or attempt a squeeze play. With changes in strategy by the team in the field, it's like a chess game at times.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for the insight, guys.  I checked and we will be behind the protective netting.  After two sweltering days, it looks like Sunday's weather will be a little better.  I'll post how it goes.

Edited by Justin V

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Many years ago a professor that I had suggested that baseball is most enjoyed by the very young and those of "a certain age."  The youngsters probably because they played it too (though that is less common now) and the oldsters for the intricacies and strategy.

Indians are on a 5-game winning streak!

 

 

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My tip is - be patient.

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2 hours ago, jlhoots said:

My tip is - be patient.

The watchword of all fans. Patience. 

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Justin, what I appreciate is the knowledge that the players can hear you!  

In 1972, I attended a Red Sox game at Fenway.  The Sox pitcher was Ray Culp.  At one point, he stood still on the mound, lost in his own thoughts.  I shouted, "Come on, Culp!  Pitch the ball!"  That startled him, and he promptly pitched as I had requested!

I always enjoy paying homage to the great Sal the Barber Maglie (whose bubble gum card I had in 1959, and about whom Dizzy Dean would always say, "They didn't call him 'The Barber' for nothing."), and from time to time tell the pitcher, "Smoke him inside!"  The batters always seem to hear that.

I also recommend that you give the hitters advice, depending on the circumstances.  For example, you can tell the batter, "Third base is playing too deep.  Bunt down the line to keep him honest."  If the batter does not take your advise and gets out (a 70% chance), you can then tell him, "I told you you should have bunted."

Also, you should keep score, and remind the pitcher of what the batter did the last time he was up (ie, swung at an outside pitch).

Have fun!

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22 hours ago, jazztrain said:

David,  

Perhaps you're slightly misremembering the game.  I can't find any 1-0 pitched by Andy Ashby over the Dodgers.  The closest is a 3-0 win by Ashby on April 16, 1999.  Ashby had a complete game shutdown.  He went all the way giving up 5 hits, striking out 8, and walking 2.  

Thank you for looking that up! I didn’t know how to do that. Yes, I believe it was 1999, as Ashby left the Padres that year. The fact I misremembered proves my point about not fully appreciating what you see as a novice spectator. 

 

Thanks again for checking that for me. Very pleased to have my memory corrected! 

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6 hours ago, Milestones said:

Many years ago a professor that I had suggested that baseball is most enjoyed by the very young and those of "a certain age."  The youngsters probably because they played it too (though that is less common now) and the oldsters for the intricacies and strategy...

 

 

I've seen a quote to that effect. Squares with my experience. I absolutely loved baseball up to the age of around 12. I played the game then, and the big leaguers seemed heroic and larger than life. I read all the historical accounts and knew oodles of statistics. It gradually faded - as I grew up I developed other interests, and it became clear that I'd never go anywhere as a player :P...

And I find that many retirees / seniors become big baseball fans and follow all their team's games. My father, for instance, who was not big into baseball until the age of 70 or so.

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It's something to do damn near every day for half the year. You can literally plan your day/week/months around it.

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29 minutes ago, JSngry said:

It's something to do damn near every day for half the year. You can literally plan your day/week/months around it.

relaxing, too!

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Yes, I love the idea of it being played daily...always another game coming and new chance to win.  In football, if your team plays like crap, you have to live with it for at least a week.

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My dad only took us to one game and it was like the episode of the Simpsons when Homer had to go to NYC to get his car back. We all just wanted to have a good time but he just complained about all the bad shit that happened to him. IIRC someone dropped ice cream on his head from the upper deck. And everything cost too much, of course. When I was much older I went with my mother's family to some sporting event, I forget which, and someone stole our seats. My mother was so pissed off that she decided to throw a drink on the offender. She ended up dropping it at the woman's feet rather than actually throwing it on her; we've never been good at confrontation. 

Anyhow, keep in mind that you're making family memories, not sports memories.

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