The Royal Conundrum

Written by: Ryan Hicks
Sunday, July 28, 2013 1732

Royals on the Upswing

The Kansas City Royals won their game today, sweeping the White Sox in a three-game series, they are back to being a .500 team for the first time in a while, and this is the best season that they've had since 2003 at this point.

I have never really watched baseball until this year. I've been aware of it before. I knew that the number of games in a season was absurd. I would occasionally watch a World Series. I collected baseball cards when I was a kid. But I never really watched the game.

This year, I moved to Kansas City in February, and when the beginning of the Kansas City Royals season started, I decided to watch a game or two. Instead of stopping, I have actually watched every single Royals game this season.

I don't have time to watch three hours of TV every day, but if you record the games and fast-forward through the commercials, you can see a whole game in about an hour and a half, and you can do other things while you're watching to feel productive.

So what makes baseball interesting to me this time around? Two things.

First, the more you watch the games in which the same team is playing, the better you get to know the players. I can name off every single player on the Royals team right now, and I've heard the announcers for long enough each game that I know what colleges they played for, whether they're married, and what teams they have been on in the past, as well as all sorts of other interesting trivia. I know what charities they are involved in, and sometimes what their children's names are. Since baseball gets played almost every day, the team becomes a part of your routine, and you get to know the different moods that the players are in, whether they're having a good day or a bad day, and can start judging the likelihood of what kind of a hit they're going to get. I even know who some of the minor leaguers are that occasionally come on the team when somebody gets sent down to get a boost to their confidence level.

The second interesting thing about baseball this time around is that I am really starting to think about the strategies. Every pitch matters, and the strategy changes for the pitcher, the batter, and every outfielder literally every time anything happens. The statistics they take in baseball are obscene, but if you start looking at how they all work together, you can see how crazy it is to be able to play baseball at a professional level, especially for 162 games per season.

In football, there is an offense and a defense, and the players specialize accordingly. In baseball, the same people have to hit and field, so not only do you have to have a defensive specialty, where you are placed in the batting lineup really showcases what skills you do or do not have as a hitter. If you can’t hack it where and when they need you, then you can’t play ball.

I used to think that baseball was too slow and boring to keep my attention, but now I almost can't keep up while I’m watching. My mind is scanning through all the previous games that I've seen, and I'm thinking about right versus left handed pitchers, which direction a bunt has to go in order to move a runner from second to third base if there are two outs and the hitter is slow on his feet, and a million other variables.

I have never really watched baseball until this year, but I'm glad that I started, so that I could learn to appreciate the sport that I had never looked into before.

Some people glaze over when I start talking to them about some of the deeper aspects of music and how much I appreciate all that goes into it, and I've always felt that they are missing something by not understanding the details that make it come to life. But, I have also discounted things like baseball in the past as slow, boring, and a waste of time, so finding a new way to appreciate something like this reminds me to make sure I keep an open mind, and not just about music.