I guess I can understand why some people don't like sports. Sports aren't for everyone. Some people consider football too violent, hockey too confusing, basketball too ethnic and baseball too dull. I beg to differ on baseball at least.
Baseball requires thought and consideration, two attributes lacking in today's "give it to me quickly" world of product induced satisfaction. Microwave ovens and cell phones have replaced home-cooked meals and delayed communication as staples of life, for better or worse.
That attitude has permeated sports, and baseball in particular. Baseball is seen by many as slow and ponderous, and a few years ago the powers that be considered several ways to speed up the game to make it more appealing to our short attention spans. Evolution is not a friend to the thinking mind, it seems. But I digress.
Baseball games have become events and ballparks have become amusement parks. Every new one that is built has more distractions than the last, and the between-innings nonsense rivals the minor leagues in its ridiculous entertainment value. We have hot dog cannons, dugout dances and numerous other forms of distraction to provide fans with something to think about that doesn't directly involve baseball. I get a lot of the same treatment from the Wilmington Blue Rocks games that I get from the Phillies, but the excuse the Blue Rocks have is that their audience largely consists of 10 year-old's, and as such, they require constant entertainment. Adults, one would assume, would be content with content - but alas, they are not.
However, when a game reaches epic proportions, as Monday night's ninth inning come-from-behind Phillies victory did, we are reminded of the beauty of the game and its fervent grip on us as Americans. The drama that unfolded before and during Jimmy Rollins' game-winning hit made us realize why baseball is such a great game and why sports in general serves to bring people together; either to complain or celebrate. But either way, we are together, and that speaks volumes for the effort.
Nowhere but in the world of sports can thousands of people witness the unfolding of some previously unknown conclusion. Whether it is failure or success, the anticipation is often as exciting as the outcome. In the case of the game on Monday night, the outcome was swift and complete. After all hope was seemingly lost, two minor events (a walk to Stairs and the hit batsmen of Ruiz) conspired to set up Rollins' heroics and send thousands of Phillies fans (both in person and on late-night television) into euphoria and hundreds of Dodgers fans back to their wine cellars to drown their sorrows in what would seem to be their weapon of choice.
Sports is the ultimate in reality television and maybe the only place where real human emotions can be seen on display - both on the field and in the stands. We relish in their joy and they feed on our enthusiasm. A truly cathartic relationship.
It doesn't get much more real than that, and I can't help but wonder what else people could be looking for in some contrived talent show or a made-for-TV event. With baseball, it's all there on the field.