“Pitchers and catchers report for spring training.” Those are the most beautiful words in the English language – for my husband. He wears a big smile on his face when he hears the announcement on television, and he reads the sports page from beginning to end to learn how the new players perform.
For me, on the other hand, the most dreaded words in the English language are, “Pitchers and catchers report for spring training.” That’s because I know I will not watch television from April until Halloween. Not that I watch much television at any time of year, but it is impossible during baseball season. Now you might suggest that I could watch another program during inning breaks (aka commercials), but you forget that there are other games on other channels to keep up on. So I sigh and read or cruise the Internet.
I have been married to a die-hard baseball fan for 21 years now, and I still don’t have a clue how the game is played. I blame my parents, of course. Had they lived in the United States, then I would have been exposed to the game and its complicated rules at a young age. I might even have been able to understand why the sport is so popular. But I grew up in Germany, where Fussball – or soccer, as it is called there – is King. Soccer has one great advantage over baseball. A 90-minute game usually lasts – surprise – 90 minutes, with maybe a few minutes added for penalties, but no more. Baseball, on the other hand, can last for days. One summer, for example, we attended a 13-inning game. Can you spell b-o-r-i-n-g?
I had no idea what I was in for when I married a GI while we lived in Germany. Because baseball broadcasts on American Forces Network are limited, my beloved could follow his home team, the LA Dodgers, mostly by reading the sports pages of the Stars and Stripes. After we moved to Pittsburgh, he switched his loyalty toward the Pirates. At the first live baseball event I attended I was busier watching people than actually watching the game. I was startled when my husband and everyone else rose. “The game’s over, let’s go!”
“Who won?” I asked, surprised at this sudden turn of events.
I am especially puzzled that baseball seems to promote crime. A stolen base, for example, occurs quite often, and I am tempted to notify the police about it. Or take ‘hit-and-run.’ According to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a hit-and-run is being or involving a motor-vehicle driver who does not stop after being involved in an accident. I tried to read the baseball explanation for ‘hit-and-run,’ but my head began to hurt.
And what in the world is a ‘suicide squeeze’? Suicide is no laughing matter and should not be used for a ball game. But then, a never ending game – or 20 consecutive losing seasons – may induce some fans to contemplate suicide. Don’t do it, buddy! Watch soccer instead. Or better yet, take up knitting.
Then there is the ‘sacrifice fly.’ They sacrifice flies in this country? How do you go about that? Drape a giant fly paper over the ballpark to catch the little buggers?
My husband’s interest in baseball doesn’t completely vanish during the off-season. After an exceptionally brutal trading season I asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he replied dryly, “I want a shirt from a player they cannot trade.” I bought him a Roberto Clemente T-shirt.
On a cold December night I was reading the newspaper when I heard a sound I did not expect during winter: it was a bat hitting a ball. Yikes, I had not counted on reruns! Is there no respite from the game? Since baseball promotes crime, I have thought about bribery. I’ll attend a game with my beloved if he goes birding with me. That is, if the birding occurs before or after a game. And I demand all of hubby’s attention before I hear the dreaded announcement, ‘Pitchers and catchers report for spring training’!