Why Does Baseball Matter?

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A couple of years back, when the Giants won the World Series, the Bay Area was swept into a baseball frenzy. I remember going out for dinner in a nice restaurant and noticing a crowd of people gathered around the bar area. Periodically, the crowd would cheer or groan, totally absorbed in what was happening on the TV screens. Eventually, someone told me that one of the final games was being broadcast on TV. I couldn’t figure out why people cared about baseball so much, but that night I definitely felt like I was an exile in the foreign land of baseball lovers. I hear that baseball season is gearing up again, and this year, I’m going to be ready. I thought you might be interested in learning along with me, so I asked my friend and baseball expert, Haley Hirai, if she would teach us what she knows in a series of posts. So get out your glittery pencils and Trapper Keepers and welcome Professor Haley to the blog!

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Why should girls who don’t care about baseball start caring about baseball? My best friend Mary told me, “It’s probably like trying to describe chocolate to someone who has no idea why people like chocolate. Um. Because it’s delicious?”

There are stereotypes of girls who say they like baseball, but won’t watch a game by themselves. Girls who claim to love a team, but can’t name anyone on the roster. Girls who go to games just to play Candy Crush on their phone the whole time. Mary and I are not those girls.

We love the game itself. We love the strategy, the skill, the unwritten code, the late inning rallies. We love the long season that begins in spring and winds its way through summer and fall. We love the fluctuations between unbridled joy and pure angst that you feel when a team finds its way into your heart.

Mary and I met at the very beginning of freshman year when we were auditioning for the campus TV sports show. We soon discovered that we were both awkward, looked way younger than our age and loved baseball. The only girls in a group filled with sports-obsessed boys, we held our own. There always came a point in our conversations after we mentioned something – maybe it was exertional compartment syndrome or the infield fly rule – when the boys finally realized we actually knew what we were talking about, a moment I doubt happens to men as much as it does women.

It was difficult to distinguish what we loved about the general game of baseball and what we loved about specific teams or aspects of the game, but we boiled down why baseball is great into three main points:

  • The people – The teams that you get attached to the most are the ones that seem like a bunch of bros, silly but good-natured underdogs. Teams can reflect the essence and personality of their city, making fans feel like one of the bros too. Baseball brings people together, whether its the 40,000 fans all singing along to a Journey song, or a friend you made by talking about the game last night. The best part of baseball is feeling like you’re a part of something greater than yourself.

  • The skill – It’s a lot harder than it looks to throw a little white 5 ounce ball that accurately, that fast. It’s also incredibly difficult to hit a ball moving that fast at exactly the right moment. Even though to the untrained eye, baseball can look slow, there’s actually 1,000 things happening at once below the surface. Baseball isn’t a game of brute force. It’s a game of refined skill, strategy and mental toughness.

  • The long season – 162 regular season games makes a long season, but that’s the best part. Anything can happen. Anyone can be great and anyone can be terrible. You just have to be patient and see how it plays out. Baseball is a metaphor for life. It’s long. It’s difficult. More often than not, it’s a grind. You’re considered good if you succeed 30 percent of the time. That’s how hard baseball is.

A lot of things in life come and go, but every spring, baseball is back. The sun comes out and the world makes sense again. You can go sit at the ballpark with your best friends. You don’t have to talk if you don’t feel like it. For three hours, you don’t have to worry about anything except that tiny white ball, the crack of the bat and the sound of cleats running on sand.

As Mary says, “I don’t know how to explain why that matters. But that’s part of why it’s beautiful.”

About the Author

Haley Hirai is an Assistant Account Executive at the Bay Area offices of Weber Shandwick, a global PR agency. She has worked in communications and marketing at Oregon Baseball, the Pac-12 Conference, Riverbed Technology and CBS San Francisco. Although she’s been a baseball fan her whole life, don’t try to throw a ball at her. She most likely will not catch it.

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