Pitching Baseball to San Diego’s Rejected Football Fans

Credit: SanDiego.org

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Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego just got knocked on their collective asses. Sports-wise, obviously. First, let me get this off my chest: screw you, Dean. I hate your guts.

Moving on.

Now that the dust has settled and we’ve caught our breath, it is time to stand back up and assess what we have in front of us. The Gulls are a great ticket, plus they’re on TV now. Aztecs men’s basketball is in a bit of a lull, but there are few events more fun than a packed house on the Mesa. We still have football, albeit the college variety, and the Aztecs are really good. Smarter people than me seem to think they were better than all but 24 college football teams last year.

But let’s be honest. Baseball is now the thing here. It is my opinion, and I think a pretty good one, that football fans should strongly consider giving the grand old game another chance if they had given it up since graduating from little league.

That being said, I’d like to offer the football fans a few tips to increase the likelihood they will enjoy making more trips down to Petco Park. Welcome to baseball. We are glad to have you. I’m serious. I’ve spoken to the Padres brass more than once and they are genuinely glad to have you. Unlike some owners, but I digress.

First of all, the Padres are offering free tickets to former ticket season ticket holders of the pro football team that used to play here. It’s a brilliant idea, by the way. My first piece of advice is pretty simple: take them up on it. Besides the fact it is free stuff, it is also a chance to see Major League Baseball.

When you go to a baseball game, the first thing that will probably catch your attention is the pace of the game. It’s slower than football, I’m not going to lie to you. There are many innings where no runs are scored, and others where no one even reaches base. In order to enjoy yourself, you need to prepare yourself for that. Baseball is not football and it doesn’t try to be.

The reason why baseball and football are the two quintessential American games is because they are the yin to each other’s yang. Football is a 3-hour long organized riot. If a bar fight had rules, it would borrow heavily from the gridiron. Swap out the pigskin with heavy metal music, and you’ve got yourself a mosh pit. “Hey kid, see that guy? Go try to knock him unconscious.” Sounds lovely, of course, but eventually you want to see something a little more graceful and cerebral.

Credit: NBC7

Baseball is a game of anticipation. So, football fans, try not to just live in the now. Don’t sit on the edge of your seat expecting to see someone’s knee go backward or a guy pull down another guy by the metal bars attached to the front of his face. I realize you’re not going to see a large man get a running start and launch himself at a defenseless, smaller man and then perform an impromptu dance routine over his prone, crumpled body. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Instead, try to scan the entire field between pitches. If the count is 2 – 1, try to see what the players in the field are doing. Maybe focus on the batter and what his routine is in between pitches. Watch the manager, or the third base coach, or the guy in the dugout with the bubble gum bubble on top of his cap. Then turn your attention back to the plate for the next delivery and then go somewhere else with your eyes.

After some time doing this, believe me here, you will explode when the exciting thing actually happens. It’s like opening a birthday present when, finally, you hear the crack of the bat and a track star in centerfield takes off at full gait to try to track it down. You literally hold your breath, I promise. The crowd then cheers for a while, then you get back to anticipating the next exciting thing.

Sometimes there aren’t too many exciting things. Hey, it happens. I’ve been to bad baseball games, and I’m pretty sure you’ve been to bad football games. But here’s the difference. At bad football games you have to sit and stare at the field and get more and more frustrated with your team, the coach, the referees, the ball boy, and the guy holding the big orange gloves to tell the ref the TV is still at commercial. When you are at a bad baseball game, you get to do other things. Take a walk around the ballpark. Smell the food (uuuuuuum, Phil’s BBQ). See the other fans. Maybe stop at the Park at the Park. Bust out your phone and read the twitter comments about the game. My Padres twitter feed is almost as good as a mediocre comedy show. You could even have a conversation with the person next to you.

That’s the rub about baseball. It’s not a war. It’s really not that serious. You win, you lose, but you know there’s another game very soon, sometimes less than 20 hours. Your entire mood doesn’t hinge on the outcome of a sporting event that you know will only happen a few times that month. You can, hold on to your hat, enjoy yourself. There’s very little angst. It’s a day at the park, for crying out loud. Who in their right mind doesn’t like a day out at the park? People go to parks all the time even when there’s not a baseball game going on.

Try to enjoy the baseball for what it is. Baseball is a sport of technical skill, precision, and immeasurable talent. In football, the bigger or faster guy usually wins. In baseball, the old pitcher can get the slugger out with moxie and accuracy. The slugger can triumph over the young fire-baller with near superhuman eyesight and muscle control.

Just don’t expect to have your senses overwhelmed. Don’t demand that baseball give you a series of violent collisions every few seconds to entertain you. Try to just relax and enjoy the green grass, the brown dirt, and the pop of the mitt. Watch for the little things. Appreciate the players. Have a hot dog.

God, I love baseball. Writing this is giving me goose bumps. Is it opening day yet?

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