As I begin this post the Oakland A's are about to begin the bottom of the 9th inning against the hapless Houston Astros. On most days the A's would beat the Astros easily, but tonight they need to turn the game around or they'll endure a hometown loss against the team with the worst record in the league.
Last week I downloaded the At Bat app to my phone, and a few weeks ago Pi Wen and I watched the Giants play the Cubs at AT&T Park. I know that A's games are on 95.7 FM and the Giants are on 680 AM, and which cable channels carry each team (767 for the A's and 770 for the Giants.) Suddenly I'm a baseball fan. This comes after years of thinking the game was too slow and that there was nothing more boring than watching an endless series of fly balls.
As a kid I loved basketball--it was fast paced, a feat of athleticism with every possession. These days basketball is too fast, too frenetic. Football is a guilty pleasure, knowing what it does to the nervous systems. So take me out to the ballgame, where not much happens for good stretches of time and then everything changes in an instant.
Not that baseball is blameless. My newfound passion corresponds with a new doping scandal. Barry Bonds cheated, and Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa lied. Going back further, Pete Rose bet on his own games.
All those blemishes acknowledged, there's a timeless quality to the game. The first pitch and the first crack of the bat are like nothing else. Baseball is a game of obsessive recordkeeping and lukewarm hotdogs. These days the pace is just right.
*Note: the A's lost, after a controversial foul ball that fans believed was a home run.