It’s February. That means, for Mississippians, Spring is in the air. Our week and a half of winter is over, and brisk morning temperatures are giving way to very pleasant afternoons. We’ll get another cold snap or two, but we’re pretty much diving headfirst into Spring right now. And Spring is probably my favorite season, so I’m excited.
Spring means many things, and from a sports fan perspective, it means a lot of good things. Recruiting, spring football, and the greatest spectacle in all of sports: MARCH MADNESS. From a simply Mississippian perspective, it means the most beautiful weather you’ve ever seen anywhere and an excuse to be outside as much as possible. Really, Mississippi springtime is an amazing time. From mid-February until June (when I get married, btw), it’s just awesome to do stuff outside.
But this time of year isn’t perfect. My Twitter feed has been blowing up with warnings of a coming disaster. A disaster some people are actually excited about.
That disaster is baseball*.
College baseball, pro baseball, high school baseball…it’s terrible.
Yeah, I know it’s “America’s Pastime” or whatever. And I live in Braves country (which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it is what it is), so things are pretty baseball crazy down here. But I just can’t do it.
I grew up playing baseball and basketball (I didn’t even have football available to me until sixth grade, but I couldn’t play because I had a broken foot when the season started). I loved both, but liked basketball more. Baseball in the summer, basketball in the winter. Baseball was just a part of being a Mississippi kid.
But I grew to hate baseball for a couple of reasons. By eighth grade, I had become “that kid” – you know, the one who always unluckily finds himself getting hit with things? I was going up against really, really good players (a couple of guys are in the minors, and one was a hometown super-hero who had a great football career at Mississippi State and bounced around the NFL for a few years). But these really good players always happened to have their worst nights when they played my team. I vividly remember playing the team who had the best pitcher in the league. I think he was in ninth grade, but he was already getting some looks for college ball. Whatever is considered “hard” for a ninth grade pitcher, he threw harder than that. And the night we played him, he just so happened to be having control problems. As I went up to bat, I remember my coach telling me to “just stay in there,” which we all know means “you’re about to get hit.” And sure enough, I got drilled with a fastball on my left shoulder. I was on the ground, writhing in pain, wondering “WHY?????” in my mind.
This same coach, who was a great guy, started trying to convince me to play baseball year-round. Year-round? For baseball? No. It would cut into basketball season and…just no. “Fall Ball” is the single worst thing that has ever been invented. I quit shortly thereafter, and except for one more rec league season with some friends in a different league, my baseball career was over.
Fast forward a few years to college. I was neck deep in my relatively newfound love affair with all things Ole Miss, and as a freshman, I wandered over to Swayze Field at Ole Miss to catch a college baseball game. For the next 2 and a half years, I was hooked. I spent many a spring afternoon skipping class and watching baseball. I spent many weekends camped out at Swayze, watching baseball and taking in the “scenery” (I mean, come on. As a single college sophomore – to – senior on a campus that claims to “redshirt Miss Americas,” where else was I gonna go?)
But something bad happened. I got emotionally invested in a sport I hated. My roommates and I had a season where I think we only missed 2 regular season home games. We went to regional games and Super Regional games. But you know what happened?
Ole Miss happened. WAOM (if you have to ask, you probably wouldn’t understand) moments happened more in baseball than any other sport, and old white dudes made excuse after excuse for why we weren’t getting it done. And I found myself getting angrier and angrier over a sport I hated.
So I quit. Two years ago, I quit caring about college baseball (I have never cared about pro baseball. I collected cards as a kid, but I wasn’t really that interested in the game).
It makes this time of year so much more pleasant. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about anything college baseball related for the last few years. And just to put some perspective on that, I could tell you about the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (never played soccer). I could tell you about the Masters (or golf). Or Wimbledon (nope, never played tennis either). I could tell you about Olympic swimming (did swim team for a year but quit when I realized doing a cannonball to start a race was not a good strategy).
Nope, I’m no longer emotionally invested, nor interested at all, in college baseball. Or professional baseball. Yeah, I’ll occasionally go to a minor league game (and a MLB game if I’m close enough), but for the promotions (seriously – hot dogs for $1? Thirsty Thursdays?) But I can’t tell you a single thing that’s happened in any one of the games (although there’s a pretty funny story about pictures of kittens being the cure for the pain and embarrassment of getting hit with a foul ball).
I don’t have any facts as to why I think baseball is terrible. I know I think it’s boring (and that’s not even that big of a deal to me – I love watching the Spurs play), it’s a bad TV sport, there are way too many games, those games are too long, and MLB is more stacked against small market teams than any other sport. “Baseball guys” are more and more out of touch with the sports world in general. Even the World Series has picked up a feeling of “meh…” in the last few years. I’m not even that bothered by steroids.
No, baseball just sucks.
Which actually makes baseball, because it’s exactly what I need to detox from 8-10 months of caring about sports, awesome.
*My disdain for baseball, for some reason, excludes the Little League World Series. That is some good TV right there.