I’ve been jonesing to go to a baseball game—must be the summer heat. It’s a beautiful sport: the one-on-one duel between the pitcher and batter, the equal distribution of play (everyone gets an at-bat, doesn’t matter if you’re Ted Williams or Miguel Tejada), the spectacle of the ballpark, the food, the songs, the long season that turns players into workaday characters. Fact is, it’s baseball season almost as much as it is not baseball season, and the drudge of 162 games turns the sport into one that’s more calm and unhurried in its pace.
Many of my friends misjudge it, thinking sport needs to be swift like a basketball game, or intense and concentrated like a football game. But baseball is more of an experience to have than a spectacle to see. It’s called a park for a reason: it’s a place of leisure, (hell, stretching is built into the format), and an opportunity to just be present. The park is a sensory buffet: the scent of the grass, the sights of the game, the feel of the heat, and the taste of the hot dogs. And the sounds; oh lord, those sounds: cracking bats, kicking dirt, easy, rolling applause, the snap of the leather in the glove when the ball hits it, the umpire calling strike. They’re all there, and dependent on you being there. The transcendent quality of the park is why baseball is better on the radio: the sounds of the stadium and the lull of the commentary hang and dawdle like that summer heat, and the imagination fills in the gaps from what one already knows. And that’s what makes baseball so great: even when one is there, it already seems a bit like a memory.