BUY ME SOME LIPSTICKS AND CRACKER JACK
10 Things a woman should know about baseball
Here’s a quick little synopsis about me, baseball, and women before I go into my hints about baseball for the less inclined.
So here’s a story, my first wife (who I met in college) knew nothing about baseball and was not motivated to learn about baseball. I made a deal with her that I would learn about her passion, art, if she would learn about baseball. My favorite artists include Fazzino, Van Gogh, and Lichtenstein and I love going to MoMa and the Whitney. As for my first wife’s knowledge of baseball, let’s just say that she is my ex-wife.
Today, I am happily married. I love baseball and my wife, Max, loves the Red Sox. Note the distinction. This means, I can talk about the Red Sox with her when they are doing well and I can’t when they are not doing well. If I want to talk to her about something interesting that took place in the Padres-Phillies game, I have to get to the point quickly or she will rapidly lose interest and let me know it in the time that it takes to pull a trigger and the bullet hits you. That is the difference between being a fan of team and being a baseball fan.
I happen to be patient with people who are not baseball fans, particularly if they are passionate about something else that involves rooting for and against. Politically correct namby-pambies have no appeal to me. In the town we live in, it is PC Hell. As our daughter started playing soccer there were parents (really only moms) who discouraged the keeping of score. I do not like those people to this day. By the way, sports fans do hold grudges.
Okay, you have some background as to what you are dealing with here, so you can take what I say either with a grain of salt or a saltshaker full. Here is the assignment the fabulous Tracey gave me:
“i want to do a blog next week with you about women and baseball for those of us who know nothing. if you could list the 10 things every woman should/could know about baseball that would say let her talk to her man about it. or maybe you’re on a first date with someone the guy loves baseball, you’re like me know nothing, how can you impress him?”
First of all, very e.e. cummings, don’t you think?
Second of all, for a baseball writer like myself, asking me “the 10 things every woman should/could know about baseball” is like asking Doris Kearns Goodwin to name the 10 things to know about dating Abraham Lincoln (she dated him, right?).
Third, I consider myself a teacher, a trainer, a baseball-based life coach, if you will (certainly if you will pay me), consequently I will not tell you what to say. I will give you some hints for you to pursue, but my most important rule is adapt don’t adopt. No matter what you are told as to how to act, make sure it’s within a framework that reflects your personality, not mine.
Finally, while this is written with women in mind, they are not the only species this applies to. It is good for men, for children, for pets, for people from other countries, or even other planets, although probably not for Arizona state legislators as this knowledge may be foreign to them and then they would ask for my papers.
So here we go:
Bill Chuck 10 Baseball Hints for Women
1. Connect with the sport itself. Please don’t talk to your man about how pretty the field is or how cute the ballplayer or his ass is. Believe it or not, this is a turn-off. Ask what you should be looking for or have your guy explain the seven ways to reach first base without the benefit of a base hit. You will learn a lot by these answers:
1.Base on balls/walk
2.Hit by pitch
6.Called third strike not caught
7.Batted ball hits an umpire or runner before contact with a fielder
2. Do not complain about the pace of the game. Baseball is a pastoral game, a thinking person’s game, a game that unlike other sports is not regulated by the clock. Therein lies its beauty. Do not chatter, respect the action of the game but, on the other hand, baseball is a great game for conversation and to learn about people. Ask about favorite teams growing up or favorite players. Ask why? Learn about how your guy became a baseball fan, who in their family got them caring. But remember to connect with the game and pace your questions and responses on the action itself.
3. Do you have to stay for/watch the whole game? Do we have to stay for the ending of anything movie/TV show with Katherine Heigl, Sarah Jessica Parker, Shonda Rhimes, Kate Hudson, or Steve Carrell. If you say “no” to these, I’ll come up with five more that you won’t say “no” to. You get there for the first pitch and you leave after the last pitch, that’s the way it is. Just the other day, the Cardinals were beating the Rockies, 9-3, and in the 9th inning the Rockies scored nine runs to win. Yes, that was a rare occurrence, but life is nothing more than a series of rare occurrences. Three hours out of your life watching a baseball game is better than three hours about arguing over leaving a baseball game early. Walkoffs, when the home team scores the winning run in their last at bat, is the equivalent of a sports orgasm. But of course it’s your choice.
4. Stats mean everything. Baseball is a great game for stats. Batting average is important for hitters. Baseball is really a game of failure, a good batting average is above .300 meaning 30% of the time the batter successfully gets a hit (single, double, triple or homer). It also means 70% of the time they fail. I’m no math guy, but that sounds like it resoundingly leans on the side of failure. With batters you want to learn and talk about homers and RBI (runs batted in). With pitchers you are interested in Won-Lost records and ERA, this is not the Equal Rights Amendment, but Earned Runs Average. A really good pitcher has an ERA below 3.25. Ask and you will learn.
5. Stats mean nothing. Statistics are the lifeblood of the sport but it’s the stories that are its soul. For example, volumes have been written about Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, which many people regard as one of baseball’s unbreakable remarkable records. And while there are interesting things about the streak such as the fact that DiMaggio had 56 singles and scored 56 runs during the streak, I love the fact that there was another reason that the parsimonious DiMaggio was disappointed that his streak ended that fateful night, “Did you know if I got a hit tonight I would have made $10,000?” he said. “The Heinz 57 people wanted to make some kind of deal.” Good story. There are millions of them.
6. Don’t get hung up on the money. Alex Rodriguez makes a lot of money. A lot. So do Tom Cruise and Oprah Winfrey. Teachers don’t. Firemen don’t. Podiatrists don’t (you cannot pay me enough to spend the day touching and looking feet, ugh). The world is screwy, what can I tell you? We don’t have equity when it comes to pay. Entertainment figures, and that includes athletes, get inordinate sums of money to help us forget how much money we don’t make, so simply appreciate how terrific these guys are. Today, most fastballs travel in excess of 90 mph. Think about that and then take note that the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate is 60 feet 6 inches. Then remember that pitchers also throw balls that curve left, right, rise or drop. The batter needs to hit that hurtling sphere and pray like hell that the ball doesn’t hit him. The pitcher needs to find ways to avoid having the batter hit the ball. The batter who can see the rotation of the ball leaving the pitcher’s hand and then determine whether to swing or not swing and then if he makes contact is capable of hitting that ball over 400 feet…or right in the face of the pitcher. Don’t get hung up on the money.
7. Tell me about…? I can talk forever about baseball, so can most baseball fans. In fact, I could name 100 moments and probably not name the 100 some other guy mentions. That’s the great thing about the game, there is always something to talk about, to learn about. Baseball talk for the most part is nothing more than a good kibbitz. You see there are enough things that you can talk about in the game to make you feel like you are an expert as you are talking about it. And, fortunately baseball gives the time to expound. Just keep poking and prodding and you will find the topic your partner knows about and all of a sudden the game is way more interesting for everybody.
8. Don’t ask about the balk. Most baseball rules are easy to understand. Ask about the “infield fly rule” and your guy is a big hero, ask to explain what happened if a balk is called and you got shrinkage. Balks are pretty infrequent, so forget I ever brought it up. Listen to me, forget it.
9. As Soupy Sez. The great Soupy Sales in his kids show in the sixties would riff into the camera and talk about different things. He occasionally gave lessons to kids on a chalkboard with the heading, “Soupy Sez.” One I remember from when I was a kid, Soupy wrote, “If at first you don’t succeed, try the outfield.” Of course, I will never forget Soupy saying, “I asked my girlfriend to go to the ballgame with me, I told her that I would kiss her on the strikes, and she could kiss me on the balls.” Baseball is a great game for couples and you are the part of the couple that will make it either great or lousy for the baseball fan you watch with. Be smart about it and remembers as Soupy Sez, “Be true to your teeth, so they won’t be false to you.”
10. There is no number 10. Baseball is game of nines and threes. There are nine innings, nine fielders, and they are divisible by three, three outs and three strikes make an out. Tracey, I’m willing to help out, but honestly 10!?! That is going too far.
Before I hand it back to the gifted Tracey, while much of this was tongue in cheek, baseball is really important for a lot of us. Just don’t disrespect it, but I think the fact that you have read this far, shows me that you won’t.
Let me leave you with a quote from Annie Savoy, hotly played by Susan Sarandon, in a scene from Bull Durham:
“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance. But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… which makes it like sex…I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”