Tag Archive | american league

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.

Fan complex over attendance?

Clearly, I have been highly neglectful of my blog.  Why?  Because of being busy at work doing stuff and watching baseball.  In any event, I have to talk about a few things that bugged me this past season in baseball and there were a few.  Sorry if the next few posts will be about old things, but once I get those out of the way, I hope to have new opinions and perspectives on things.  So much has gone in the world of sports, so I need to get caught up so I can stay on top of the sports happenings.

The week of August 9th was interesting. My White Sox began a 6 day home stand against our biggest division rivals: the Minnesota Twins and the Detroit Tigers. These series were both huge in terms of standings. The White Sox had gone on a tear in early June and by the All-Star break were in first place. After the break, they continued playing relatively well and winning games. At the start of the current home stand however, they had fallen into a tie for 1st place with the Twins because of the Twins having a hot streak and the White Sox losing 3 of 4 to the Baltimore Orioles, the WORST team in baseball. The O’s however, had gotten a new manager, Buck Showalter and had been playing their best ball of the entire season.

In any event, during the 3 game set against the Twins, a curious thing happened.  Instead of people talking about how 2 teams were battling it out for first place and focusing on the baseball, were more into discussing the lousy attendance at the games.  Truth be told, the sad attendance we had at those games was appalling to me, especially since I attend most games and the more fans that are there, the more fun games CAN be at times.  In listening to sports talk radio (which probably is not good for my sanity), I heard lots of interesting excuses for why fans were not going to the games.  These ranged from: the only seats available are in the upper deck and those seats are horrible, the tickets cost too much, the team is bad, food and drink costs too much, there is nothing to do around the park after the game, etc.  I will be the first person to NOT argue with a person who does not feel a need to spend the extra income they may have on a baseball game.  In this economy, the money spent for a ticket and food / drink could easily pay for a meal for a family.  Not to mention, there are many who don’t even have a job to think about going to a game.
To the fans who complain about the bad seats, I would guess those are people who have not been to US Cellular field since the renovations in 2003.  Before the renovations and the ball park was a pitcher’s park, the upper deck was not a great place to see a game.  The area was very steep (although, not steep like Soldier Field where the Chicago Bears play) and you felt very far away from the game.  Now, however, it is not nearly as steep, unless you are in the very top rows, and that only happens for sold out games.  I have heard some complain about the price that is charged for tickets in the upper deck.  When people complain about that who say they would go, except for the amount of those tickets and they can’t sit in the lower deck, I don’t feel bad.  Make no mistake that I am complaining of how people are spending money.  This irritation is directed at those who would go, but for inability to sit in the lower deck.  First of all, there are no bad seats in the upper deck.  In fact, I think you have a BETTER view of the game because you can see everything happening on the field.  You also get a better read on balls hit so you know whether it will be a home run or not.  I’ve sat all over the ball park and really the only bad seats are in the LOWER DECK near the foul poles because you have an obstructed view there. I know some like sitting there because you are “closer to the action” and I don’t begrudge that, but don’t say you won’t go to games because you think the upper deck is so bad, especially if you haven’t sat there since before 2002.
As for ticket prices keeping you away, well, the cubs actually cost more.  I recently went to a cubs game (because I am an awesome friend) and purchasing tickets for the 400 level was nearly $55 dollars going through the cubs website.  Luckily I saved a lot of money because I went on stubhub to get the tickets for at least $25 less.  In any event, I do think it is ok for people to say “i prefer to watch the game at a bar or in my living room than going to the ball park” rather than coming up with some excuse that when really examined is just lame.  Own up to real reason for not going to the games.  If the sox can only draw 20,000 fans regularly, so be it.  Eventually they will find a way to draw more fans and sell out when there are huge series against a division rival when the division lead is on the line.  Maybe not while things are bad, but eventually.  at least i can hope.

Interleague Play

This weekend begins the annual fest of AL teams playing NL teams. There was one Interleague Series Weekend in late May, but the real “fun” begins today. Frankly, I hate it. This could be because I live in Chicago and the White Sox play the Cubs in 2 series. When Interleague started, it was to help drum interest in the game because attendance was down and fans were going to the park. In cities that do not have 2 teams, it is a good way to see how the other league plays ball. If you live in a city with 2 teams or teams that are very close that are in different leagues (San Francisco, Oakland), you can easily see how the other league plays if you are inclined to watch.

Personally, I think this doesn’t work because if I see an NL team playing at US Cellular Field against the White Sox, I don’t really see how that team REALLY plays. I see an NL team attempting to play the AL game. This is not interesting to me. Additionally, I really do not like seeing the white sox cubs series (aka the crosstown classic). The games are horrible to go to because passions run so ridiculously high and the fans are beyond ridiculous behaving. Behavior is so bad that the games are generally during the day, except the last couple of years, ESPN has taken a few games and this year, FOX is taking one of the games for primetime as well as ESPN taking a game for the sunday night broadcast. The last of these games I went to was in 2006 and it was the game when AJ Pierzynski got into a fight with Michael Barrett. It was bad and then I decided the best use of my tickets for those games was to sell them.

Another reason I hate interleague is because of effect it has on the schedule and potential playoff implications because of the number of wins a eam will get. Because the powers that be think these so-called “natural geographic rivalries” (mets-yankees; cubs-whitesox; dodgers-angels; giants-a’s) need to see each other so much, it forces other teams to play teams that they probably shouldn’t. For instance, the Philadelphia Phillies might end up playing the Baltimore Orioles 6 times. No offense to the Orioles, but they are a bad team and it would result in 6 relatively easy wins for Philadelphia. However, the Atlanta Braves might have to play the Boston Red Sox 6 times as well. This could result in 6 losses for Atlanta. Obviously, those 6 losses would have a huge effect since the Phillies and Braves are in the SAME DIVISION. And the Braves might not get to play an opponent that many times resulting in 6 easy wins to balance things out due to the way scheduling is in baseball where it is division weighted (i.e., playing the teams in your division more than in other divisions). If it came down to the end of the season that those 6 wins / losses respectively made a difference, how is that really fair? (and I know life is not fair). I can’t say I have an answer for this, but it is something that at times can be annoying. Not to mention that for the 5th straight year, I have to see a White Sox – Pirates game and no offense, bu the Pirates are a bad team and I don’t need more bad piled on more bad. The White Sox are terrible now.

If MLB really feels the need to keep interleague around, then the least they could do is change the rules so that the game is played with the visiting team’s league rules. Then you would really see how an NL team plays baseball instead of watching them try to play with AL rules. I’m not the only one who’d like to see this. Bob Costas and Alyssa Milano would also like to see interleague played this way as well. Not to mention, it would be fun to see an AL team playing NL ball and not just when it is in an NL ballpark for the World Series (i don’t count the all-star game because i have issues with the all-star game; another post for another day).