The distance between the plate and the mound, like the distance between
home and first is….Perfect. Can you tell me what else is perfect
about this game? And Bud Selig aside, can you tell me what you think is
imperfect about our grand game?
Good to hear from you, Mike. And great question. You pretty much nailed it with your opening statement since so much is perfect about the game of baseball. We complain about Bud Selig and you can bet that won’t end anytime soon but then we marvel at how the game still overcomes his idiotic decisions.
Baseball is a system of artistic arithmetic. The diamond is a perfect square meaning you always know how far you have to go to advance. A pop up traces a parabola off the bat and it peaks halfway between home plate and its landing pad. Hold the seams one way while pitching and the ball curves, change the angle a little and it drops like a rock.
But artistry relies on intangibles. Yes, the ball follows a parabolic curve but you have to hit it first to make that knowledge worthwhile. How do you as a manager decide when the curve ball isn’t curving enough or the sinker isn’t sinking enough and it’s time to pass the ball to a reliever? Stealing on a slow curve makes that 90 feet much more manageable than trying to grab an extra base on a 97mph fastball.
Intangibles make mutation a necessity and mutation leads to evolution. Hitters get stronger but pitchers find a ch!nk in the armor. Small market teams can’t compete for big stars so they introduce new metrics that allow them to define a player’s “true” worth. A fickle audience demands more offense so one league introduces the DH. These are all elements that show a sports based sense of natural selection.
Like any system or organism, though, there are diseases and imperfections. Strikes sour our outlook on the sport and scandals test our immunity. It’s hard being a fan of a team that just isn’t competitive and shows no hope of turning that around. Yet somehow we make do and despite these imperfections, or maybe because of them, we love the game even more. The
perfection comes from a system that continually reinvents itself. Kind of like snuggies and walkable sleeping bags.
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