I Watch Baseball Mostly For The Butts
And other unsolicited advice.
“My boyfriend is pretty into baseball. What should I be looking for to make these games less laborious?” — Not a Fan Stan
If you didn’t grow up with baseball, it can be pretty boring. It’s boring anyway, even if you did grow up with it. It’s a sport that was designed for watching while eating hot dogs and drinking beer. Including by the players. Maybe the only sport with more standing around and less action is curling. Pitchers take forever between pitches, batters jump in and out of the batters’ box. Don’t even get me started on how long replay decisions take. It’s 3 to 5 hours of your life you’ll never have back. Like most sports I enjoy, you can take a nap in the middle and not miss much. But without it I am a shell-less snail, dragging my gross body back and forth, leaving only a trail of goo.
There are plenty of good reasons to get into baseball. Everyone gets a daily chance at redemption. Yesterday’s low-down dog can become tomorrow’s top dog. Baseball is a much fairer universe than the one we normally live in. Sure, there are a lot of commercials. But if you hit the ball once a while you’re a star. Pretty good gig if you can get it. And although only a handful of us ever get to play baseball, we can always imagine ourselves playing. Are you a little tubby? No problem, tubby is good. In what sport outside of Sumo is being tubby any good? None of them. Just baseball. And hot dog eating contests.
Surely, there are better ways to spend a Sunday night. Like, reading a good book. Oh yeah? Well baseball is a game that you can read a few chapters of a good book during. Just kind of poke your head up when you hear the undeniable sound of the bat on the ball. Or the ball in the glove. Stephen King brings books to Red Sox games all the time, just in case there’s a particular lull in the action. Great baseball books written by Halberstam or Roger Angell are almost as good as watching a live game. If you hear the crowd go crazy, put a bookmark in it.
I’m a big fan of butts. Big butts. Little butts. Butts of any kind. Most people have one. And there’s something about a baseball uniform with its stretchy pajama pants that just kind of show them off better than anything this side of yoga pants. From behind, everyone’s butts look good. It’s just when they turn around that you become less interested. You can pretend anyone looks attractive from behind. Most of the time we get to check out the pitcher’s butt on TV. There are some pitchers with long, well-conditioned hair. You can pretend they are Fabio or Jennifer Aniston. I have imagined both, either, same difference.
I don’t generally like to experience human emotions. In my own life, I like to push them as far down into myself as possible. Baseball brings all these emotions up to the surface, like a mento in a Diet Coke. I’ve cried more watching baseball games than at any other time in my life except prom night. Watching a parent play catch with a kid will get me every time. When the Red Sox and Cubs won the World Series, I cried. What else could make me cry? Possibly the Mets winning. Maybe the Brewers. Possibly the Mariners. If they ever bring the Montreal Expos back, I will cry. I am crying a little right now. I am getting kind of soft in my old age.
So, Stan, you may not like baseball. And there may be very little of sports you find appealing whatsoever. But everybody likes winning money. And gambling on things makes everything more fun. Gambling on baseball is tricky business. Betting lines are based almost exclusively on the starting pitchers. Early in the year especially, they’re only going to pitch a few innings. Select an amount of money you wouldn’t like to lose. Find a way to wager that on a baseball team of your choosing. You will become a very excited fan of baseball.
You can also join a Fantasy Baseball league. They have daily games and year-long leagues. You will start having opinions about players like Randal Grichuk of the St. Louis Cardinals. They will be like your pretend buddies. Or enemies. Life is essentially meaningless and the things we do we do to distract ourselves from the fact that we won’t exist here for very long at all. Maybe death is great. No one is complaining about being dead. Maybe they miss the baseball. But most likely dead people are all just hiding and at some point they will all come out and scare the shit out of us. You will know where to find me. In New Jersey, watching baseball.
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.