In October my television hums between baseball playoffs, hockey, football, and basketball. Fall brings more than change in the air, but a major change in the sports season. Inevitably, there will be stories about how baseball is falling behind other sports in TV ratings, and general interest.
To the casual viewer, baseball looks boring compared to the energy of college football. Baseball looks slow compared to the speed of hockey and baseball looks overly simple compared to the constant movement in basketball or the schemes in professional football.
Baseball and especially October Baseball is not boring, slow or simple. Baseball is precision. October baseball is precision amplified. A 3-2 count becomes the equivalent to going for it on 4th down and inches. Every pitch is elevated to a new level, crowds stand and scream during every pitch. Cheers for strikes, ooooohs for balls. The difference between a pitch count of 1-2 and 2-1 is huge, yet the situation becomes magnified because it’s playoff baseball.
I don’t have a favorite team to follow in the playoffs this year, yet I still try to see as many games as possible. What to enjoy in October baseball? I watch pitch sequence and the count — follow what the catcher is calling. Watch the pressure build on the pitcher and see how he handles it. Watch the pressure build on the batters and see who’s bat gets hot. Leaving men on base in the playoffs is like being turned away from the goal line, fourth and inches, again.
Baseball naturally gives you lots of starts and stops. Plenty of time for the drama of the moment to be discussed, the pressure to build and the managerial second guessing to begin. I always hope for a classic pitcher’s duel, pitch for pitch, inning by inning. Every pitch, every at bat, every play. Amplified.
I can live with October baseball.