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What Are The Four Most Exciting Words In Sports?

February 19, 2016

The long winter is finally coming to an end. On February 2nd, the groundhog didn’t see a shadow and we took that as a sign of an early Spring. But, an even more accurate predictor of Spring happens this week. This week the Boys of Summer make the trek to places like Jupiter, Florida, and Surprise, Arizona to start shaking off the rust of the months since last November 2nd. 
Yes, the four most exciting words in sports were spoken this week:

Pitchers and catchers report.

I know that not everyone is a baseball fan. In some ways, baseball is like Country music. It’s not unusual to hear, “I like all kinds of music. . .except Country.” People who will live and die for 72 games through the winter with their favorite basketball team, and follow the Sunday games of their favorite NFL team and even sit through hockey, (I just watch for the fights) will turn up their nose at baseball as too slow, boring, worse than golf. 

That’s fine. I’m not trying to convert anyone. In fact, at one point I thought baseball was the most boring sport in the world. Think about it, what’s an “exciting” game? A no hitter. When literally no one hits the ball. Actually, that’s not the definition of a no hitter, but I don’t want to alienate the few remaining non baseball fans that read this far. But, more exciting than a no-hitter is “the perfect game.” You can pitch a no hitter and still walk guys. In fact, there have been cases of pitchers throwing a no hitter and actually losing the game. However, in a perfect game, no one even gets on base.

Baseball is a sport where perfection is defined by absolutely NOTHING happening. Harder to get a better definition of boring than that. But, at one point I decided to try to understand the game. I wanted to understand why people would sit for three hours or more and watch a couple of guys throw a ball back and forth. And as soon as I sat down to learn the game, I was hooked. 

Baseball, is a game of nuances. More than any other game it literally is a game of inches. A baseball is slightly less than 3 inches in diameter. Bats are about the same. Throw in the fact that a bat is a cylinder and a baseball is a sphere and spinning while travelling at speeds up to 100mph, and the difference between a hit and a miss is less than an inch. 

It’s 60’6″ from the pitcher mound to home plate. A batter has about .4 seconds to decide to swing at a pitch. “That’s nothing,” you might say. “I’ve seen basketball players catch and release a shot to win a game in less time than that.” That’s true, but a baseball player is going to face that .4 second reaction over and over and over. Sometimes a single at bat can include eight or nine pitches. And most batters come up at least three times per game. 

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the first spring training games. And Opening Day is still six weeks away. But for a baseball fan, this week marks the end of winter. There might be snow on the ground in most of the country, but Spring has finally come. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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