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The Column

Pitchers and Catchers

I'm going to be upfront with you. I love baseball.

I love talking about it. I love watching it. I love playing it. I love talking about watching other people play it. If I wasn't raised Jewish, I'd probably convert to baseball. In fact, I spent many childhood Saturday mornings in synagogue talking about Friday's game.

People wonder why I love baseball so much. If you're one of those people, you have either never been to a game or never been to a game with a real fan. I've taken several people to their first baseball game, and they have all asked to go to their second.

Baseball is not about guys in silly uniforms running around trying to catch a ball. Baseball is an experience. In fact, that first thing sounds a bit more like "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" than baseball.

You don't go to a baseball game by yourself. Baseball is community. Going to a baseball game is not just about the game itself, because for half the game the evil team is up. Baseball is about sitting back with a close friend or family member on a nice day and talking trash to the other fans.

I have been to more games with my brother than I have with anyone else, as he is half the reason I'm a baseball fan (my father being the other half). Since most of those were Mets games and most Mets games are losing efforts, we occupied ourselves by playing Points. Before each hitter, we'd predict what they were going to do and get a point if we got it right. And we'd get two points if it was a rare prediction, like the pitcher getting a hit or Rey Ordonez getting a hit. Our scores could also change based on Name that Tune, the Cap Game, the various really easy trivia quizzes and fake computerized races, and all the times my brother somehow found a way to cheat.

We all have our personal reasons to love baseball. When I was seven and the Mets won the World Series (yes, it was that long ago), I cheered with my brother. We also bonded over baseball cards and jerseys and playing catch, which I even got kind of good at. Kids like things they're kind of good at. And I know more about baseball, historically and otherwise, than you do. I like things I know more about than you do.

But the real reason we should all appreciate baseball is that it's the sport with the most incredible stories. Baseball is a modern day duel; ten paces has just been replaced with 60 feet, 6 inches.

My favorite story involves a rookie catcher trash talking Rogers Hornsby, one of the best player of all time. He was also cool because his first name was plural.

The legend says that the catcher, trying to distract Hornsby, invited him to dinner after the game, which distracted Hornsby long enough for strike one.

The catcher continued talking about what his wife would be cooking, naming all of Hornsby's favorite foods. Strike two.

The catcher then went into more mouthwatering detail, before Rogers finally glanced back at him, practically drooling, and belted the next pitch out for a home run. And as Hornsby scored, he asked, "what time should I get there?"

There are two cool things about that story. One, it makes someone named "Rogers" look bad ass. Two, "Rogers" and "Hornsby" did not show up as incorrect in my spell check. Even Microsoft Word knows how cool that story is.

I constantly write about what is wrong with the world, like Kinkos and Fox News and my not having a butt. However (or "but" if you prefer), baseball is something right. There are a lot of problems with it. Like steroids and the designated hitter and Bud Selig. But over all, it is one of the few right things I know of.

I don't collect baseball cards anymore, I haven't worn a jersey in years, and the last time I played catch was the end of my final intramural softball season. But I still love the game. And you should, too. Even if the Mets suck.

And trust me, they do.

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