For our writers, there is more to watching baseball than cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays. Here is a list of JFtC baseball joys.
There are many types of fans out there. New fans and old fans, fans of the game and fans of the hometown team. There are even fans of something to do on a summer evening. Through the ups and downs this season, I have been trying to figure out what kind of fans stick it out despite losses and bottom of the pack placement. In Toronto, it’s not hard to find true fans of the game. In the hockey world, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been on the losing side of things for decades. Years of not making the playoffs haven’t staved off fans of hockey. Sell out crowds are the norm at the ACC. The answer is of course that they are fans of the game itself.
As much as I love the Blue Jays, as much as they are my hometown team, I am a fan of the game of baseball. I have come to love the intricacies of play, the subtle movement of the ball, the crazy run and dive to catch a ball at all costs. As much as I enjoy the win, and want the Blue Jays to persevere and come out on top, seeing the win is not the only reason I watch the games. I watch because I love baseball.
While talking in a JFtC chat, I posed the question, “What is your favourite part when watching a game?” My answer was seeing a perfectly executed curveball. When you see it, and it glides across home plate with that crazy turn, it simply takes my breath away. JFtC writers chimed in with their favourites and it was awesome.
Ryan Mueller: My reason for watching baseball are the between baseball moments. The numbers and forecasting. I enjoy following the minor league player that went undrafted, yet follows his dream knowing the odds are stacked against him. I love the stories.
Wade Black: My favourite part of a game is watching a pitcher set up a hitter, then execute a perfect pitch that gets a strikeout. As an example, when Aaron Sanchez works 2-3 pitches away on a batter then comes with the back-up 2 seamer that starts at the LHH hip and comes back to the inside corner. I know it’s coming, I am anticipating that pitch being made, but there’s just something about watching it actually be completed that I find exciting.
Roy Widrig: Catchers receiving a fastball or changeup on the black. Throwing behind a runner and stealing an out. Blocking a 56′ curveball and keeping it in front. The gear! Throwing the mask aside and following a pop up back to the plate and playing the backspin perfectly. And the sound of a ball getting crushed with a wooden bat.
Dustin Reddon: This is going to sounds so lame….but I am a sucker for the narratives and special moments. Any game can have incredible meaning to it, and you never know when it’s going to happen, because it can come at any time. A triple play can be turned in a 17-0 game between two last place teams and it’s something you almost never get to see. Even the game against the Red Sox. Mike Bolsinger comes in and was what, only the 80th guy to throw a 4k inning. Out of nowhere, and I can’t help but get so excited. As for the narratives, cheering for guys or situations based on a story just adds something special. I always find myself pausing games to tell my kids..a perfect example is the John McDonald home run. See this guy here, he never hits homeruns, like ever, but his daddy just died, and its father’s day, and he came in, and somewhere, someone decided today, he is going to hit one. Just for dad.
Jeff Quattrociocchi: Right-centre line drives do it for me.
Spencer Redmond: Mine’s simple. Someone splitting the outfielders with men on base. Remember Troy Tulowitzki‘s bases clearing double in the 2015 ALCS?
Shaun Doyle: These are all so good. In the interest of not repeating, because a ball to the gap and the play at home are way up there, I’m going to go with the stolen base. The runner sizing up the delivery, dancing off, the cat and mouse of it all is so much fun to watch. Then when he takes off, the catcher making that throw, or not, it’s like time stands still. That throw down to second seems to take an eternity and then time speeds up as he slides in. That scene in Big Fish when time stops is exactly how I see the stolen base. Of course, the trick slides make it that much better.
Joy Frank-Collins: I have two – the 6-4-3 Double play – which is “standard” but such baseball baseball. But, my all-time favourite, makes me spill my beer (or wine), jump out of my seats and cheer no matter who’s playing, is without a doubt the Suicide Squeeze. What is really fun/frustrating is that my husband has what I call a “squeeze-sense” – he just knows when a team is gonna do one. It’s awesome, because when he’s around I never miss one, but frustrating because I wish I had that skill.
Ryan Andrews: Wade stole my first of two. Love seeing a well-executed slider strike a guy out.
Not to be too cliche, but I’m surprised it hasn’t been mentioned yet. I love hearing the sound that a no-doubt home run blast makes coming off the bat. Baseball is one of the few things that you can take in with all of your senses (although I wouldn’t recommend taste or smell at some ball parks), and baseball has such rich audio. The murmur of the crowd in anticipation of a pitch, the soft thwack-thump of a ball just beating the runner to first before their cleat hits the bag, the fractured wail of a bat being broken by a cutting fastball. But there is no sound sweeter, perhaps in all of sports, than the sound of a batter squaring up a fat change-up or a hanging curve and absolutely launching it into the stratosphere. Maybe it’s because I’m coming off watching Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales do that back to back to walk-off a game, but there’s still nothing like hearing the thunderclap of another souvenir being created. A wise man once said, “Chicks dig the long ball,” and I definitely dig the long ball sound.
To add to this amazing list, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask one of the greatest treasures in baseball, Jerry Howarth, to chime in, and he happily obliged.
Jerry Howarth: My favourite thing to watch in baseball is a bases-clearing triple at home before over 40,000 fans to take the lead.
The game of baseball is definitely bigger than any team, any rivalry, any one particular player. It can be an amazing dance to watch. The perfectly executed plays, the incredible joys, the humbling heartbreaks, it has it all….and this is why we baseball. The question now is, why do you baseball?
*Featured Image Credit: C Stem- JFtC
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