Baseball is stupid.
I know, you’re confused. “What do you mean? You said this is a blog about sports and I know you’re a baseball fan! How can you say baseball is stupid?” Just bear with me.
I repeat: baseball is stupid. One guy throws a ball, another guy tries to hit it, and eight other guys run around throwing the ball to each other. Some of the position names make sense (pitcher, catcher, baseman) but some definitely do not (what’s a shortstop?). The managers and coaches never play in the games but they wear the same uniforms as the players. Some teams don’t even put their players’ names on the backs of the uniforms so unless you follow the team closely or you’re watching on television, you don’t know who you’re watching. And the game is so freaking slow.
And yet, it’s our national pastime. It’s the oldest of the four major sports, and it has the most documented statistics from as far back as 1860. Baseball movies are more beloved than any other sports movies. People who don’t know anything about baseball know who Babe Ruth was and about the rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Baseball was the first organized team sport to break the boundary of racial segregation. Entire cities define their identities based on their baseball teams.
Baseball is also the sport that’s most often talked about as being passed down from father to son. Fathers teach their sons about the terminology, the players and the history, as well as the intricacies of base-running, pitch location, positioning in the field and countless other minutiae that will take up valuable space in their brains for years to come. Fathers tell stories about players they’ve watched and the passions they’ve developed for the teams and the game. Yes, fathers may teach their kids to shoot free throws or to throw a spiral, but neither of those compare to playing a simple game of catch.
As I said in a previous post, I’m teaching my son lessons about Chicago sports. Lesson number one is the Chicago Cubs, the baseball team of which I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember. I’m not going to go into the whole heart-breaking history of the team here; that’s what the internet is for. Plus, everyone already knows about their century-plus streak of futility, from the curse of the Billy goat to one of the worst collapses in baseball history to Leon Durham to Moises Alou. Some people even acknowledge the good players that have been on the team, including Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance, Ernie Banks, Ferguson Jenkins, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, Kerry Wood and a bunch of others. Rest assured, Eitan will hear and learn about all of it, plus the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field, the rooftops, Santo’s black cat, the Hawk’s home runs, Wood’s bathtub incident, Dusty’s mission to overwork every pitcher he ever works with and Prior’s intimate relationship with the disabled list. He’ll know the difference between a curveball and a slider, running on contact, the infield fly rule, the steroids era, fantasy sports and the league’s apparent refusal to use replay technology to ensure that the right calls are made. He’ll know that it’s important to stick with your team, even when they’re horrible, because it makes it that much sweeter when they finally win.
It may be a stupid game, but it’s the first one I ever learned about and it will be the first one I teach Eitan.
Go Cubs Go.
 Can you imagine if they did this in the NBA? Picture Stan Van Gundy or Tom Thibodeau wearing a jersey and shorts. Just make sure you don’t mind not being able to unsee things.
 Reason number 2,840,751 to hate the Yankees.
 Try to argue with me about this. All I have to do is say Major League and Field of Dreams and I win.
 And daughters, too, obviously, but I have a son, so we’re sticking with that. On a different note, I wouldn’t be surprised if a big reason for the transmission of baseball traditions to younger generations is the speed of the game. Basketball, hockey and football all move too quickly. Watch a hockey game; the only times you can actually go to the bathroom without fear of missing something is during the intermissions between periods. Basketball has stoppages for free throws, time-outs and quarter intermissions, but it’s otherwise continuous action. Even football is pretty fast-paced, as there are only 40 seconds between plays. Baseball allows for discussion between innings, between batters and even between pitches. There’s nothing to do but watch and talk about what the teams are going to do next.
 There’s a reason this book was written: http://www.amazon.com/Hey-Dad-Lets-Have-Catch/dp/097865840X
 You’re welcome, 1969 Mets.
 I told you – baseball is stupid.