Guest Column: A timeless look at the game of baseball

If I could take you away from all those political ads on television, recycle that political mail you’ve been getting, and get your mind off your upcoming politically-induced search for new Medicare insurance providers, would you let me? I’d like to talk baseball for a while. So, have you got a few minutes? Three or four hours maybe??

In case you don’t know, it’s been October for quite awhile now. The Gophers and Vikings are in the hearts of their seasons, and the Wild and Timberwolves are just beginning theirs. However, Major League Baseball is about to present its “fall classic” – the World Series – that climactic confrontation between the American League and National League champions. After 162 regular season games, wild card playoff games, and the divisional and league championship series, the big finale has finally arrived. Things are about to get really good.

Whether your baseball interest resides only with the Minnesota Twins (in which case, you started tuning out in July), with one of the remaining teams, or simply with the game itself, you must admit the World Series is typically loaded with drama, excitement and spectacular plays. Yes, you’ll need to tolerate a preponderance of defensive shifts, a relentless barrage of statistics, constant ramblings-on by well-meaning announcers, a debilitating overdose of commercials and game delays that seem to have neither origin nor purpose. Other than that, buckle up!

Over the past several years, MLB has tried to make its game more interesting, less boring and shorter. The league has installed its own equivalent of basketball’s shot clock by setting a maximum time limit between pitches and has reduced the number of trips a manager can make to the mound without changing pitchers. Yet, the average time of a game is still just over three hours, nearly three hours longer than the average American’s attention span. Marketing the sport is a tough job.

However, true fans have little reason to complain. Baseball is more a game of strategy than any other. Think of it. There is no clock to indicate the end of a quarter or a period, no clock to mark the end of the game. It’s timeless. Yes, I know most games are nine innings long, but still, each game could last forever. As long as three outs are not registered, the inning continues. Need extra innings? Well, the league has an unlimited supply!

In baseball, every situation presents a new set of strategic plans for the batter, the pitcher and their managers. So much more so in the World Series! Man on base. Will he steal? Will the batter bunt or just bluff? Will the pitcher throw over to first? Hit and run? We’ll see. Even the changing pitch-count heightens the drama until – after several fouls balls on the 3-2 count – something has to give, right? Well, maybe.

So check out the 2018 World Series on television. While you’re watching, remember that, at 60’6” from the pitcher,  the batter has just over a half second to locate the ball, decide whether to swing, and get the bat around before it sails past. Complicating all that is the need to “squarely” hit that round ball with that round bat, lest it is harmlessly bounced on the ground, popped into the air, or fouled out of play. It’s surprising anyone gets a hit.

That’s baseball. Timeless. Sure. Seems. That. Way.

Loren Brabec is a contributing sports writer for the Isanti-Chisago County Star and author of several Braham sports books.

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