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Baseball Homestand: the National Pastime: Experience the Excitement of Attending the 81 Home Games of a National League Baseball Team.

Baseball Homestand: the National Pastime: Experience the Excitement of Attending the 81 Home Games of a National League Baseball Team.

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Baseball Homestand: the National Pastime: Experience the Excitement of Attending the 81 Home Games of a National League Baseball Team.

Länge:
223 Seiten
3 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Mar 16, 2011
ISBN:
9781456723781
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

To prepare for Baseball Homestand: The National Pastime, the author attended all 81 home games of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2010 baseball season. The book contains a summary of each game and includes comments about notable plays during the game and other happenings of interest. Thus during the entire season many if not all of the amazing athletic accomplishments of the players on the field are described.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Mar 16, 2011
ISBN:
9781456723781
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

David Faris is a freelance writer living in Claremont, California. This is his fourth book and his first novel.

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Baseball Homestand - David Faris

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Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTION

2. PREPARATION

3. SPRING TRAINING

4. THE REGULAR SEASON

5. THE 2010 POSTSEASON

APPENDIX.

1. INTRODUCTION

We purchased a season ticket for the 2010 home games of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team with a view to writing about their home season. This book is the result. We will describe here the games played and the surrounding atmosphere in the stadium, as well as other aspects of the 2010 baseball season.

The book’s title includes the phrase The National Pastime because the Dodgers play in the National League of Major League Baseball. In the future we hope to write another book about the home season of an American League team. Please stay tuned.

Most baseball fans root for a team, probably the team in or near where they live or grew up. On the other hand, the purist enjoys a ball game to witness the athletic achievements of both teams without favoritism. In this book we are taking the journalistic approach of describing what we see and experience. Thus hopefully we will not seem to be rooting for the Dodgers. However we will try to describe the feelings of those Dodger fans that are at the stadium, as far as we can discern those feelings from observations and inference.

The book also includes a section on the 2010 baseball postseason and World Series, even if the Dodgers do not win a spot there, because this would be of interest to baseball fans who read the book.

Analogy to Travel Writing

Travel writing is a genre that is frequently found in books, magazines and newspapers. Often the Sunday newspaper contains a separate Travel section. In addition, many authors, such as Paul Theroux, have published successful travel books.

The travel writer typically journeys to a place such as a city, region or country and stays long enough to form impressions. He then writes his impressions about the area’s people, geography, food, amusements, historic and natural landscapes and best places to stay. Thus the variables in travel writing are place and time.

In the narrative that makes up this book,Baseball Homestand,we perform an exercise similar to that of travel writing. However instead of traveling to a country or region, we travel to a baseball stadium. And instead of staying for a few days, our dimension of time is one baseball season. Thus we will attempt to describe to the reader what it would be like to attend the games of the home team in their stadium. This works out to 81 games spread out over a six-month period from April to September. The baseball schedule is for 162 games; the other 81 games are played in the stadiums of other teams. If the team qualifies for the postseason games leading up to the World Series, these games would be in October.

Perhaps another metaphor for our activity would be to one who runs a marathon. Certainly attending 81 baseball games in a sixth-month period could be considered similar to running 26 miles some morning in a marathon race.

The descriptions will be based on each game that we attend as season ticket holders. We will describe the scoring in the game and the unusual plays and events that occurred during that visit to the ball park.

What is Baseball?

The game of baseball is an athletic contest between two teams. Metaphorically, it could be viewed as a series of 18 one-act plays. However unlike a play, in baseball there is no script and the outcome of each act is completely unknown in advance. Furthermore, the contents of each inning in a baseball game can be wildly different from each other, depending on the plays that occur in each one individually.

Perhaps another comparison would be to a boxing match. There, the two combatants battle each other for ten or twelve rounds (assuming there is no knockout), and the winner is the one who received the most votes on the judges’ scorecards. Similarly, in a baseball game the winner is the one who scores the most runs in the nine innings.

Still another comparison might be to religious activities. If the proverbial Martian came to the United States to observe our activities, here is how things might appear to him when he took in a baseball game.The ballpark might be similar to a church or temple; the players are priests in various garbs. The baseball is a religious object that is distributed according to prescribed rites. The umpires make sure that these rituals are carried out in the correct fashion as dictated in the religious texts. Believers and followers assemble in the temple to watch the rituals being carried out. Sacramental food and beverages are passed out at the back of the temple and consumed. Ancient rituals require that the religious services be performed outdoors on grass and as a result services are performed only in the summer months. Experts broadcast the services to worshipers who are unable to attend in person. At the end of the religious season, there is a grand final rite called the World Series in which two of the most outstanding congregations perform the sacred ceremonies.

To put it another way, baseball is a game of rituals, in that all the plays and actions of the players, coaches and umpires have happened thousands of times before, so everyone involved knows what to expect and what to do to obtain the most favorable outcome from their viewpoint. Of course not everyone gets such a favorable outcome. There will always be an ultimate loser of every baseball game.

For example, the concept of rituals even applies to baseball fights. When a pitcher hits a batter, sometimes it is required that the players rush onto the field and pretend to engage in fisticuffs. The players obey, but usually they are not totally serious about trying to inflict injury. Rather they want to be seen as honoring this ritual with their behavior.

Although there are nine innings in a game, each team gets a turn at bat in each inning, so there are really two one-half innings involved. The visiting team and then the home team take a turn at bat. There is however no convenient term or word to describe the one-half inning. Nonetheless, the half-inning (or the team at-bat) is the key element of the game, since all the action continues to occur therein until three outs are recorded, and then the other team takes their at-bat. A team at bat could last as little as three pitches if the first three batters swung at the first pitch and hit a fly ball out or a ground out. On the other hand, an at-bat could last thirty minutes or longer.

The Element of Surprise

When the pitcher hurls the ball at the batter, a myriad of outcomes are possible. The batter might hit a home run; the outfielder might make a fantastic catch; there might be a double play; the batter might strike out. The list of outcomes has been calculated and rest assured that there are a large number of them. Most of these outcomes will test the athletic abilities of the players involved. Perhaps it is this element of surprise that continues to attract fans to the game.

A Balancing of Forces

Baseball is a game in which, for historical reasons, the offensive forces (hitting and base running) have remained in long-term balance with the defensive forces (pitching and fielding). Here are some examples of this balancing of forces.

First, if the pitcher has good command of his pitches (fastball, curve ball, sinker, slider and change-up,) the batter will have little success but if not, the opposing team will get hits and score runs. In any event, the best hitter in history, Ted Williams, succeeded only about one out of three times at bat.

Second, when the runner on first base attempts to steal second base and the catcher starts his throw, it takes about the same amount of time for the ball and the runner to reach second base, so the outcome is unknown until the exact details of the play unfold. The outcome (out or safe) will depend on the quality of the runner’s slide, the accuracy of the throw, and the tag of the fielder on the runner as he slides into the base.

Third, when an outfielder fields the ball and attempts to throw out a runner attempting to advance, , it takes about the same amount of time for the ball to reach the base as it does for the runner to reach that same base. There are many different combinations here: a ball hit into right field with the runner trying to get to third base or the runner on third base trying to score. These are just a few examples.

As a result of this balancing of forces, the outcome of a given play or game is in doubt until the play or game is completed. This is another reason that fans like baseball.

The Economics of Baseball

Major League Baseball is popular because it benefits by the huge amount of revenue that flows through the entertainment industry, of which baseball is a key participant. The economic laws of supply and demand apply equally to baseball. On the demand side, fans pay to attend ball games and companies advertise products to these fans. The advertising revenue flows through media outlets to the teams. On the supply side, the player development process is nurtured by amateur and professional coaches, scouts and teams, so that a steady supply of outstanding athletes reaches the major league teams. This ensures that in most cases the teams can be competitive during the season (except in some small-market geographic areas which have less revenue potential.)

From this process there is an iceberg effect. The major league team is only the tip of the iceberg. The remainder of the activity remains largely unseen to the general public. It consists of the minor league system, the college and high school teams, and the leagues for younger boys and girls (Little League, for example).

At the Ballpark

Another thing that makes baseball so popular with fans is the spectacular nature of the outdoor stadium experience. The huge tiers of seats, the colorful grass, the big video screens and the fresh air make it a unique experience. This is similar to the movie industry. People go to the movies because the theaters have been built. Similarly, there are 30 major league stadiums throughout the country that offer major league baseball to the fans in their cities 81 times each year.

On a typical game day or night at the ballpark, we walk through the parking lot to the gates, present our ticket and receive any promotional items that are being given away, such as caps, posters, or other items. We walk to our row and go down to our seat to watch batting practice and other pre-game activities. We purchase food and drink. It is a good idea to load up on refreshments since it may be difficult to get out of our seating area once the game begins.

The stadium is in the shape of a giant concert hall, only it is out of doors and much bigger than any concert hall could be and there is no roof, except in the case of a domed stadium. Currently there are five stadiums with retractable roofs: Toronto, Seattle, Milwaukee, Houston and Phoenix. These are in cities where the weather could be a problem during the season: too hot or too wet.

It is a good idea to get a seat behind home plate but if not, get one down the third base or first base line. It is advantageous to be able to see into the one of the team’s dugout. With binoculars you should be able to watch the players up close as they interact with each other. They are excited and intent on the game. When a player does something good, he gets a lot of high-fives from his teammates when he enters their dugout.

How to Watch a Game

Before the pitch is thrown check the positions of the infielders and outfielders to see if they have made any adjustments for the batter’s tendencies. Watch the pitcher’s motion and note any eccentricities. At home plate note whether the batter is left handed or right handed and watch any unusual moves they make in getting ready to bat. Also watch the way the umpire and catcher set up behind the plate. Each umpire strives for a unique style in the way he signals strikes and outs.

Look for these Exciting Plays

If the batter hits the ball, there are many possibilities, but the fan has to be alert because the entire play on the ball will be completed in just a few seconds. There are some exciting things that can happen. The outfielder may make an exciting catch. The infielders may turn a double play. Perhaps this is a little like the birdwatcher that waits for hours in hopes that he will see a rare bird.

Micro vs. Macro

The field of economics includes micro economics, which is the study of price theory at the level of individual markets and products, and macroeconomics, which is the study of the activity of the entire economy. Similarly a baseball game is made up of many micro events, which are individual plays involving hitting, pitching, fielding and base running during a team’s time at bat. The micro events continue to occur until three outs are made by the team at bat. Some of the events contribute to the outcome if they lead directly or indirectly to scoring a run. In reality the only goal is to score runs!

However not all events, as important as they may seem, contribute to the outcome. For example if a team loads the bases but the batter hits into a double play to end the inning, then the events leading to the loaded bases are not significant in terms of the outcome of the game. That’s why the statistics of Runners Left on Base (LOB) and Runners Left in Scoring Position (RISP) are significant ones in understanding the outcome of a game.

On the other hand a fielder may make an error that indirectly allows a run to be scored. That is why the classification of runs scored into earned and unearned is important in understanding the inning.

How to Classify Baseball Games

The macro event is the general type of game that results from the collection of micro events. Generally the types of games include pitching duels, one-sided contests, those with lots of errors, come-from-behind wins, those with many lead changes, games decided in the ninth inning, extra-inning games and others.

This could be compared to personality theory. Psychologists have developed many different systems to categorize one’s personality into a certain type. For example, in the Myers-Briggs system (based on the work of Carl Jung) personality types are divided into four pairs of preferences: extraversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling and judgment versus perception.

A baseball game develops its personality as the innings progress. This could also be viewed as similar to child development theory. A child develops his or her personality as it grows and experiences different aspects of its environment. However the other important determinant of personality is the genetic makeup of the child. Similarly, a baseball team can only develop a personality in games as a function of the particular abilities of its personnel. Thus if the team’s roster does not contain many power hitters, it will not be involved in many games featuring lots of home runs.

Attending a season of games as we did is fun because you realize that each game is going to develop its own personality and end up that way. So the challenge as a journalist and writer is to journey through this to the end of the game and then be able to summarize that game’s unique personality. It is a little like being a reporter who must write a story about something every day. In the pages that follow we will attempt to describe the various games’ personalities and types.

Probably the only way to actually determine accurately the personality of any game is to experience it in real time, either by being there, closely watching it on TV or listening on radio. It helps to keep score as the game progresses. It is important to keep one’s attention focused on the batter because he is the originating point for almost all action (except pick-off plays by the pitcher or catcher). Attention and focus is important because whatever play or plays develop from the batted ball will take only a few seconds to complete.However, the athletic achhievements during those few seconds may be exciting to observe.

At a minimum each game is going to have its own personality because there must be a winner and a loser and the question is: why did one team win and the other lose? The answer partly describes the personality of the game.

The Game Activity Score (GAS)

To partly understand the nature of each game, we developed a system that would summarize a game’s level of activity. We call it the Game Activity Score or GAS. To compute the GAS we consult the box score for the game and add up selected statistics presented for that game. Specifically, we start by adding together the scores, and then we include the number of hits, doubles, triples, home runs, strike outs and walks. Next we add to that total the number of errors, double plays, passed balls, wild pitches, stolen bases, caught stealing, sacrifices and number of batters hit by a pitch. The resulting total is a measure of the amount of activity that occurred during the game.

The GAS rating does not automatically indicate what type of game has been played. Rather, it records primarily offensive activity on the base paths: hits, walks and runs scored. And it also takes into account pitching success through strikeouts. A higher GAS score indicates more scoring whereas a lower GAS signifies a low-scoring pitcher’s duel. There will be exceptions. Some low GAS scores could be accompanied by lots of runs scored if many of the base runners were batted in by subsequent batters (good efficient clutch hitting). On the other hand, a high GAS could still indicate a low scoring game if many of the runners were left on base, picked off or eliminated by double plays.

2. PREPARATION

We ordered our Dodger season ticket for the 2010 season at the same time that we bought tickets for the 2009 playoffs; the Dodgers qualified for those playoffs. It turns out

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