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Steiner: Baseball is just what the doctor ordered (April 9)

Peter Steiner | Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Last Sunday signaled the beginning of two seasons in America – baseball and a certain disease – and oddly enough, they go hand-in-hand.

Millions of fans traveled to stadiums across the nation or just to their couches to watch a game they love begin again this year. Meanwhile, many others began to show early signs of the yearly epidemic.

Symptoms of this illness include scoffing at the length of the baseball season, citing pitchers’ duels as unentertaining and a general misconception about the game itself. The one telltale sign of the disease is if the following leaves the person’s mouth: “Baseball is boring.”

Unfortunately, in the age of short YouTube videos and endless highlight reels, this disease is growing each year, especially among those under the age of 30. Don’t worry though if you think you might catch the disease because you are surrounded by people who think baseball equals boredom. Just cover your mouth with your baseball glove, breathe in that rich leather smell and smile because you know they’re wrong.

Besides more cowbell, there’s only one prescription for this illness. But don’t worry, the Doc (no, not Roy Halladay) is here to provide the full dosage.

First, take a step back and a deep breath, and slow down. One of the best things about baseball is, believe it or not, its slower pace. Life is hectic and enjoying a baseball game means taking a step back and soaking in the present. Sometimes there are lulls in the action of a game or season, but staying with it during these times helps you really enjoy the biggest moments that come later.

Second, appreciate the need for endurance, because the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. There are slumps and streaks through the entire season, and while watching a team at the top of its game is sweet, seeing a team overcome its struggles is just as enjoyable. Through the entire season, teams have the same singular goal in mind – a World Series crown – and seeing the finish of a marathon is particularly special when you know what it took to get to the end.

Next, listen to the broadcasters. Whether its radio or television, the commentary from guys like Bob Uecker and Vin Scully add depth to the game, no matter if the action is thrilling or just routine. Even if your team is out of contention, the best broadcasters will supply smiles and stories sometimes only tangentially related to the game.

Fourth, find the beauty in the details. Granted, the intricacies of baseball are not usually apparent to those who find the game boring. But exploring the details, whether for the first time or all season long, elevates the game to a new level. For example, each at bat represents a new duel between the pitcher and batter, each with his own strategy and distinct talents, and the situation changes with each pitch.

Fifth, enjoy the uniqueness of the game. There are so many aspects of baseball that distinguish it from other sports, and these attributes, like the fact that it’s the only true summer sport, make it special for fans. For example, without a salary cap, each team, from the Yankees (pretty soon, we’ll start saying the Dodgers) to the Athletics, has certain traits that characterize it year in and year out. The minor leagues also play an important role in baseball and teams are always making decisions that affect the long-term success of the club. Even the concept of the game itself is vastly different than most other sports. It’s these distinctions that fans love about baseball.

Finally, capture the moments to remember. The walk-off home runs, incredible pitching performances, unbelievable defensive plays and other amazing moments baseball provides are the greatest thing about the game. Watching them live is remarkable, but reliving them years later is just as wonderful.

So, there you have it, a guide to enjoying baseball for those missing out on it and a refresher for those already doing so. If you reexamine it, this guide for enjoying the game also seems like an awfully good guide for enjoying life. That’s because the game of baseball is not boring, but full of life.

Contact Peter Steiner at [email protected]

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.