TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME – Marilyn Armstrong

I enjoy baseball. I used to enjoy it because Garry is such a fan of the sport, I was either going to learn to like it or spend half the year having no one to talk to because there was a game on TV.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Gradually, I got to really like the game for its own sake. Its complexity. The slow, careful way it unfolds. The subtleties of how the ball is thrown, how the pitcher finds the seams and throws so the ball dips or rises. How it is caught and by whom. The way the field is set up, depending on who is hitting. All those decisions about running and stealing.

Errors.

Was it a mental or physical error? What other sport takes the time to figure out whether the subject thought wrongly or just did the wrong thing? Imagine a football announcer discussing whether that was a mental or physical error? No one talks “mental” in football, despite the enormous complexity of the game. Baseball is relatively simple compared to football.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, famed meteorologist, sharing old Dodger baseball memories

Stop and think about all the things that must go through the mind of the quarterback and his team to make a play. It is mind-boggling.

The point is, I like baseball and I sort of like football, though I’m less familiar with its finer points than baseball. Football makes me say “OUCH! That really had to hurt!” while watching. I’m amazed anyone has a brain after it gets whacked during the game.

Gate D – Fenway Park

People who don’t like sports don’t get it. They don’t see the point. Why bother? It’s just a bunch of guys running around a square before when a ball gets whacked by a batter.

Can you whack that ball? If you can do it regularly, you can get paid as much as $250 million for — I’m not sure — maybe 10 years? Does whatever you do pay that well? So, however dumb you may think it is, if they would pay you that much money, you think you might run around the bases? Yeah, I think so too.

Baseball season!

So now we get do why is it dumber to play baseball than do something else? Is working in a bank smarter? For that matter, is writing manuals for software inherently more intelligent? Or is it just something I do well enough to get paid?

I can’t play baseball for money because I can’t play. If someone offered me millions of dollars? I’d run around that field with joy in my heart and probably, so would you. Even if you don’t know what the game is about, if the pay is high enough, you’ll play.

Mostly, what we do for a living depends on what we do well. It’s nice when it’s something meaningful, something in which you can make a difference. Whatever that means these days. Most of us do the best we can with whatever talents we have.

So I ask you: why is running around during a ball game sillier than sitting in front of a computer writing code for computer games? Or any other software? What is the difference except that ballplayers earn a lot more money?

It is a whole lot easier to find a coder than any kind of pitcher or a guy who can hit home runs. If it was harder to find a coder than a pitcher, I’m pretty sure the coder would earn better money. People who play sports brilliantly are rare … and that’s why they earn the big bucks.

So much of what we do in life is dumb. We don’t work because it’s smart. We do it or did it because we needed a paycheck. If we also enjoyed it, we got lucky.

If you are one of the annoying people who despises sports because they are stupid, ask yourself what you do which is so much smarter? And how well do you get paid to do it? And if they offered you millions to run around bases and whack a ball with a bat, would you do it?

You bet you would. I know I would.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

10 thoughts on “TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I think that to become a professional athlete you would have to love doing it or you wouldn’t put in the long hours training, cope with the many injuries and the disappointments of not being picked for a team or being dropped. There would be a lot of things that you could do that would be easier even if they don’t pay ridiculous amounts of money. So I don’t think sports people are stupid. I think that even amongst the professionals there are different levels of passion for their sport. I often hear commentators and other players talking about cricketers who, when they are not playing the game, just love to talk about it to anyone who will listen. How many people feel that way about their job?

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    1. I think people who get to play sports for a living consider themselves very lucky. They get to do what they love and with a little bit of luck, they get paid a LOT of money to do it. Injuries and all, I doubt most of them would want to be doing anything else.

      Garry felt that way about his work for a very long time. It was exhausting and he didn’t make nearly as much money as everyone seemed to think he did (if only!), but he loved it. I liked what I did, but I didn’t love it. it was a decent way to make a living. It was okay and sometimes, fun … but I was never passionate about it. It was, after all, just software. Despite how we sometimes go on about it, it really isn’t life or death.

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      1. I still love baseball. This year, with our Bosox playing mediocre ball with a high salary team, I’ve muted my passion a bit. I still watch for awhile, checking indivdual players rather than the team as a whole. That’s the give away. When your focus is on the individual it means you have minimal optimism for the TEAM to succeed.
        The Sox didn’t figure to repeat last year’s “Once In A lifetime” dash to the World Series championship. Not realistic. But I hoped they’d play high caliber ball, excelling in all phases of the game. Not happening. The long “hangover” continues. The Sox aren’t executing in the field, on bases or on the mound. The deservedly maligned bullpen is a nightmare that could’ve been fixed during the off season. The suits passed on fixin’ the pen, believing they could ride out last year’s success as a “honeymoon” during this year’s mediocrity. It’s an insult to the fans.
        They have an excellent manager in Alec Cora whose skipper skills haven’t diminished since last year.
        The players simply aren’t doing what they are capable of accomplishing.
        Halfway through the season (more than halfway), the clock’s tick is growing louder.
        The fat lady is beginning to excercise her lungs.
        I know there’s no cryin’ in baseball. I’ll still stock up on tisssues.

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  2. I do watch Baseball at times. i’m mainly a Hockey and Football fan. I guess it’s assumed all us Canucks are Blue Jays fans, but many people outside of Toronto hate Ontario and Toronto. (But that’s a story though it may apply to the Yankees). The only thing I don’t like about MLB is that at least 3/4 of the teams know before the season even starts that they don’t have a chance in hell of winning the World Series. I really think they need to address that with a salary cap that would level the playing field and give everybody a shot. YES I know that’s a Socialist concept, but in this instance I think it’s necessary. They did it in hockey and it’s really worked out well.

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    1. They really ARE doing that … but the Yankees are so rich as are the Dodgers … they just do what they want anyway. In theory, the Red Sox are also rich, but for some reason, they stop at the salary cap — which I have to admit, we often find very frustrating especially as they desperately need a bullpen and a closer.

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      1. It was so bad in Hockey Marilyn that Calgary and Edmonton were basically just farm teams for St. Louis and Detroit. Players were always jumping for the buck and we couldn’t do anything. Not very Sporting.
        Way back the players used to just play because they loved the game. Remember that? Money was secondary. Then the first agent showed up. And it was Game Over.

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  3. I think it helps if you’ve played the game as a kid. I played baseball, volley ball and basket ball and a very little golf.
    Love to watch the games live.
    Leslie

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  4. Baseball players (And professional athletes of the major sports in general) get paid what they do BECAUSE of the fact that so many people like sports enough to spend money on them… either by attending games, buying merchandise, or subscribing to the channels that show the games. There are many talented athletes in other sports who get paid more like I do (if at all) because nobody cares about their sport enough to pony up money for it. I wish people actually showed up to watch me do my job…. one big free agent contract is all I’d need to dream of very early retirement…

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  5. I would have played baseball for big money, but I was not much good at it.
    We have good baseball announcers here. The very pace of the game allows for a deeper analysis. We have one of the best with the White Sox color guy. Steve Stone played for both the Cubs and White SOx and won a Cy Young award with Baltimore. He knows what he is talking about. Many do not and that drives us crazy.

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