Opposites Attract

I love sports.  They are dependable for ensuring that if I am having a crappy day, that watching a game, whether it is an old one or currently happening, I will be cheered up.  They rarely let me down in terms of knowing what is going to happen.  The thrill of finding out how the ending will occur is so much fun for me.  If I am let down by sports, it is usually because the team I am rooting for didn’t end up with my desired result.  Though, this disappointment doesn’t last long as I always look forward to seeing the next game.  Even if I am having the best day ever, sports just are icing on my fabulous cake for keeping the party going.

I will watch most any sports, but my favorites are about as opposite as one can get.  Fortunately, they are also in opposite times during the year, so that I am occupied with sports year-round without a break.  Some may find this strange because you should take a break from your loves just for sanity purposes, but for me, there is an inherent break given the sports I follow closely. 

Hockey and Baseball.  Fast, heart-pounding, brutal, ice, clock.  Those would be things that come to mind when I am thinking about hockey.  Slower, long grind, nine, grass, timeless.  Those are some of the words that come to mind for me when I think about baseball.  In almost every way, these two sports are opposite.  Both are team sports, except that baseball is deceptive in that while it is a team sport, it is more about the individual players coming together to do something.  Guys can still be superstars even if only one person is putting up stats while the rest of the team is just blah or in some cases, just bad at the game.  With hockey, sure, there are superstars, but every guy on that team needs to do his thing in order for the points to be put up on the scoreboard and the team to win.  Sure, at times a team will get a win that can and should be credited to a goalie who stood on his head, but for the most part, you need all the forwards, defensemen and the goalie to work in concert for things to equate to a win.

The biggest difference for me between the two is the speed of the game.  In hockey, you are up against a clock.  The guys are athletic and moving around on skates!  Things happen quickly and if you aren’t paying close attention, you can miss something in the blink of an eye.  When I watch hockey, it can be the most intense 60 minutes ever (spread out over about 2.5 hours).  If a guy with the puck gets a breakaway to the net and then shoots and JUST MISSES the goal or the goalie makes a great block, it is super intense, waiting for that score to happen.  I think it is probably more intense when it is a potential goal that the team you aren’t rooting for shoots.  When your team’s goalie makes a great stop, you will realize you were holding your breath waiting to see if the puck crosses the line.  In baseball, there is none of this type of heart-pounding stress.  You know you are in for at least 3 hours of time to sit back and relax while watching the game.  Sure, there are times when you will hold your breath — usually when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter or making a bid for a perfect game, but generally, guys get hits and you just want to make sure that the base runners don’t score.  Sometimes, the game can go really quickly if you get two pitchers who like to get the ball and throw it to the plate.  Those type of pitchers will not allow for batters to play games to mess with their rhythm.  Those are also games where no one is getting very far on the base path.  Honestly, I love those types of games because anytime there is a great pitching duel, sign me up.  I know a lot of baseball fans out there don’t care for them because they would like to see lots of home runs (and the ensuing fireworks that some parks will shoot off when a home run is hit).

The inherent heart-pounding with hockey is a great change for when it is not baseball season.  And conversely, the relaxed games of baseball are great to get away from the heart-pounding that is hockey.  Hockey is just intense and I love it.  The fact that you have guys going after each other and even the fights are just amazing.  Seeing those guys do that, it is a way to enjoy getting out aggression without being an angry person myself.  With baseball, it is just more relaxed in terms of being able to watch, but you don’t have to do it super closely to know what is happening.  Once in a while there will be a fight, but the whole team will get involved.  Personally, I like the way hockey goes about dealing with the aggression and hits.  Unfortunately in baseball, it doesn’t always happen. Especially if you happen to be watching an American League game where the pitchers don’t hit.

Overall, each sport has its own unique rhythm and beauty and watching to see what the beauty in each game is, is a wonderful thing.  Speed, athleticism and skill in each are all on display in different ways.  Every sport has its own rhythm and beauty, but for me, the beauty in hockey and baseball is the best kind of beauty to behold.  If you haven’t experienced the beauty, I’d encourage you to take a look and appreciate it for all its glory.

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