The experiences of the past 100 days have made it easy for me, as a sports fan, to not care about any of the sporting events that have been cancelled. In March and April, I focused on flattening the curve and social distancing – and determining the best plan for my family and I. In May, I thought I had it figured out – until George Floyd was killed on Memorial Day, and then all of my attention was consumed by grief, fear and anger.
Nothing else seemed to matter. Especially watching sports.
But slowly, there are some changes happening. On a recent weekend, I flipped through the channels and saw some live golf and live car racing on TV. I’ve read some articles about soccer and the WNBA coming back, and now I’m doubting my resolve to continue not missing sports – especially baseball – for the rest of the summer. As we’ve hit the unofficial start of summer, I feel the void of not having the “boys of summer” filling some of my idle time.
Because the Internet loves lists, here is an ABC-inspired, slightly Minnesota Twins-centric list of the reasons why I miss professional baseball. What did I fail to mention? Do you have additions to the list? Add them to the comments below; it could be slightly therapeutic for us all.
Always there: From April through October, baseball distracts us from our daily responsibilities. Have a free moment in the evening? Tune in to the game. Waiting for your kids’ activity to wrap up? Check out the score on your phone. Have a special occasion to celebrate? Catch a game in-person.
Baseball sounds: The pop of the glove, the crack of the bat, the crowd noise bleeding through the radio broadcast. Baseball is a buffet for the ears.
Camaraderie: Going to a game with a friend who likes baseball with the same intensity you do, whether a 1 out of 10 or an 11 out of 10, can be a truly joyful way to spend an evening. Sitting in the bleachers, talking smart, enjoying an adult beverage and a hot dog can be so good it almost doesn’t matter who wins the game.
Day games on Sunday: Doing yard work, fishing, driving back from the cabin, taking a walk or lounging in the hammock on a Sunday afternoon listening to the Twins thump a divisional foe can be the perfect cap to any weekend.
Every morning: Baseball fans can drink their morning coffee while getting caught up on the previous night’s games. Who won? Who lost? How did your favorite, or least favorite teams fare?
Fielding highlights: Watching a certain, oft-injured Minnesota Twins centerfielder track down a laser shot of a fly ball and crash into the right center field wall is exhilarating. Seeing a shortstop make a 150-foot throw from short left to nab a batter at first by a hair is fun. How about seeing a catcher make a throw to second that lands exactly where it needs to? Fielding highlights are, in a word, missed.
Game analysis: Like all sports, nothing sucks the joy out of the game like a dose of over-analysis. But there are some serious Twitter accounts and podcasts that provide analysis no one needs, but people whose love of the game teeters towards 11/10 (see C) live to consume.
Home runs: I miss the long ball, and the Twins’ 2020 version of the Bomba Squad would have tallied quite a few by now.
Into the Fall: As summer wanes, if your team is still in the race, it’s almost as if September doesn’t mean the end. It’s just the beginning.
Jumping: When the Twins win games and they are in the field, the outfielders have the tradition of meeting in short center field and doing a rehearsed jump. I miss that.
K: Baseball short hand for a strike out is the letter K. You know who would have collected a whole lot of Ks by now? The Twins’ batters. But refer to H. They would have hit a bunch by now, so perhaps it’s a fair trade. Depends on who you ask. See C.
Long shadows: When the sun shines during games at outdoor stadiums, shadows creep across the infield. Sometimes the batter is in the shade while the pitcher is in sun. Baseball commentators love talking about how this could make it more difficult to hit.
Mid-summer classic: When I was a kid, baseball’s all-star game was must-see TV. As an adult, I still make a point of watching it, though I recognize far fewer players now than I did back in 1982.
Night games: If you’ve been to Target Field on a warm summer evening and you’ve glimpsed the Minneapolis skyline, then you know why night games are missed.
Opening Day: Spring training was underway, then it was cancelled. So was Opening Day. I’ve only been to one Opening Day game and that was the first home game at Target Field. All other early spring afternoons are measured against that early spring afternoon when the Twins defeated the Red Sox.
Pennant Race: When your team is doing well, they’re in the Pennant Race. All signs pointed to the 2020 Twins team as one that would be vying for meaningful late summer games. Maybe they still will? It would be too early to be talking pennants right now anyway.
Quality-time: Going to a ballgame with someone is a commitment. Three hours, maybe more. Better have a lot of things to talk about. Again, see C.
Radio: I work at a TV station, but baseball is better on the radio. There, I said it.
Statistics: What’s his OPS? What about his WAR? How do his righty/lefty splits come out? In the grand scheme, none of this matters – but in my view, being able to talk the talk helps with Q, G and C.
Take Me Out to The Ballgame: Perhaps one of the greatest group sing songs ever? I miss the group, the song and the game.
Utility Infielder: Finding that one guy who can play four or more positions well while not being a liability at the plate: This player is worth his weight (usually he’s light) in gold. Rooting for that guy to come through in the clutch is a lot of fun.
Voting for All-Stars: This is the time of year when All-Star voting would begin. Who deserves to represent the American and National Leagues in the mid-Summer Classic? Hopefully, I would have been able to, in good conscience, vote for a Twin – or two.
eXtra-base hits: Afford me the liberty here. Hearing – or seeing – a batter on your team reach the gap, lift a majestically soaring fly ball into the bleachers or hustle to stretch a single into a double is a simple joy.
YouTube highlights: If you’re reading an account of last night’s game and mention is made of a play you just have to see, but didn’t? Never fear. Major League Baseball is good at getting their highlights up on YouTube.
Zoilo Versalles: Again, afford me the liberty here. He played shortstop for the Twins in the ’60s, won an MVP award and his name starts with Z.
Baseball is a game that lends itself to discussion. What is on my list that isn’t on yours? What do you miss about baseball right now?
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