I'm new to baseball fandom. Like, super new. Like, I used to be all snarky about baseball watchers and other sports nutjobs (Nutjobs? See how judgmental and rude I was? I really ought to be ashamed of myself.). Was not a sports fan. Played a few sports. Mostly running though. And I sucked on a really sucky soccer team for a couple years in high school. Never won a game. Although we did score. Once. On our own goalie. I would watch a soccer game on occasion. They're more fun to watch in Spanish if you've got a Spanish channel. And I was glued to the TV during the curling matches during winter Olympics. Yes, curling. Still fascinated. Go figure. But, back to baseball.
Of course I knew what baseball was before I met my husband. I knew there were bats and balls and bases and what seemed to me a lot of standing around. I wondered if those poor men in the back had trouble staying awake. I figured the percentage of baseball players with any sort of attention disorder had to be pretty low. They might wander away out of boredom and have to be returned to the field by those crazy fans who sat through hours and hours of what appeared to be not much happening. I guessed that the baseball song must really be an instruction manual to the fans on how to keep themselves amused by eating plenty of peanuts and Crackerjacks punctuated with some rooting for the home team. Snarky eh? You're probably feeling mighty sorry for my husband right about now.
I grew up in a place where sportsfandom and religion were treated equally. If you were afflicted with either, it was a private matter. Then I moved to a place were sportsfandom and religion are also treated equally. If you are afflicted with either, it is your duty to share with the world. Proselytizing for sports is rampant. When someone knocks on my door I'm not sure if they're worried about bringing Jesus or football into my heart. In such a place I met my husband who was raised in such a place. His main sports are college football and professional baseball. I still find football to be boring, have weird rules and a poor labeling system (Okay, the snark is not entirely gone. But, I'm a nice person. Really.). But, baseball? Baseball was transformed for me into something definitely NOT lame during the 5 game 2010 MLB Division Series between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers.
I initially grumbled. I groaned. I sighed. More than once even. Baseball was going to be playing on the TV for over three (might as well be three million) hours a night a minimum of three and a maximum of five not completely consecutive nights!? Oh, the horror. Not that there's anything else to watch on TV. But surely some of the other crap that's on isn't as bad as baseball crap. Or so I figured. And so began what turned out to be a 5 night saga, that really turned into a saga. A real saga, I tell you. I started actually watching it. I was actually yelling at the TV (I so am not a yeller) and burying my head because I was too nervous to watch (I'm pretty commonly a head burier, no dirty comments please ;)). I seriously gave a crap. Me. About baseball. Okay, I have to admit I ended out rooting for the Texas Rangers. It began as a way to annoy my husband, but I really started to like them. My favorites were Bengie Molina, Elvis Andrus, and Ian Kinsler. I read their biographies. I started looking up their stats. I was totally reading the baseball websites I made fun of my husband for reading.
And that's how I got hooked. It was a two parter, really. 1) I got interested in the players, their stories and how they were reacting to the pressure of competition (it was so cute watching little Elvis Andrus immediately look at the ref to see if he was safe when he would steal a base) and 2) I got interested in the weird and complicated math that baseball fans do in order to figure out just how crazy it was that such and such just happened (EEEk. I need a moment. So very cool. There's a sport with awesome math. Why didn't anyone ever tell me this before? Is it a secret? Is there a secret handshake, too? Secret underwear maybe?).
Will either of these work to turn your girlfriend/wife into a baseball watching looney? No clue. If you've got a woman who's a math mama, you can try wooing her with data. Otherwise, the next time you want her to watch baseball, say something like, "See that guy? He totally had a terrible drug problem, but he overcame it and helped the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series." I know Rays fans are miffed at Josh Hamilton, but it's a cool story. I would not be surprised if she says something like, "Oh that poor man" or "what an inspirational story" or "drug addicts should be castrated" (hey, I don't know your girlfriend!) and totally sits with you to watch to see how well he does at bat. Worth a shot, eh? You can even calculate your success rate per game; let's call it EAA, earned attention average. For each time you pitch her a little tidbit aimed at getting her sucked into the game, you record the number of minutes she subsequently pays attention. Add the total game minutes she ultimately watches and divide by the number of pitches you threw at her and you've got your EAA for the game. Unlike ERA that you want to keep low, the higher the EAA score the better. Of course, like ERA, EAA is not exactly advanced statistical analysis. It doesn't measure the intensity or quality of the attention or account for distractions like commercials and ringing phones. Cut me some slack. I'm still a novice at this.
So what about me? I am going to be rooting for the Rays next year with my man. He's a devoted fan and I guess I'm a baseball floozy (sorry Rangers;)). I will be reading Ray's bios and stats and we might even make it to a live game in their crazy stadium. If we do, I will be on the edge of my seat eating peanuts and Crackerjacks (along with some crow), escorting wandering players back to the field and keeping my snarky comments to a minimum ;).