Sunday, April 05, 2009

Play Ball! ... The best Baseball Primer is here!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Yes, it's that time of year when The Garlic swings into Public Service mode, to educate the young'ins, nourish the nattering needy, and give you the blueprint for being able to sit down and watch a Major League Baseball game, not feeling as if, suddenly, the world began speaking Esperanto, and no one gave you the memo.

It's our triannual posting of "Could You Please Tell Me, What Is This Thing Called Baseball?"

And, in fact, we can brag some, as, with only a little stretching, we can say that our Baseball Primer was endorsed by the now-sitting President of the United States:

Great piece! I’d like to ask if I can record ‘Could You Please Tell Me, What Is This Thing Called Baseball?’ for my next Spoken Word project?”

Barack Obama, U.S. Senate

And, it has crossed international boundaries:

Since I’ve been in a letter-writing mode lately, thought I’d drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed the baseball essay and how much I learned from it. Perhaps, someday, we’ll have the game over here (and with the stadium lights powered by our new nuclear energy!)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

What makes The Garlic's "Could You Please Tell Me, What Is This Thing Called Baseball?" so good?

We drill down.

For instance, do you know the difference between a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher?

The man that throws the ball is called a pitcher. You have different kinds of pitchers – starting pitchers and relief pitchers. A starting pitcher will pitch for as long and and as well as he can. If he doesn’t have his stuff (all pitchers will tell you that they have stuff) and can’t finish the game, a relief pitcher is brought in.

There are various breeds of relief pitchers. You have long relievers and short relievers. The title refers not to their size but to the length of time that they pitch. After all, you have long relievers that are short and short relievers that are tall.

Or the difference between left field and the opposite field?

In the outfield, you have a right fielder, left fielder and centerfielder. There is no opposite fielder. The three outfielders are expected to cover the opposite field - wherever that may be based on who’s at bat. You also have utility fielders and, no, there isn’t a utility field. A utility fielder can play both the infield and outfield, but not at the same time.

Or how a hitter (or batter) can hang in there?

A hitter can hang in there by fouling one off or fouling it upstairs. He can also foul it out of play, foul it back, chop it foul or pop it foul. Sometimes the ball just drops foul. There are times when a hitter will foul out. If a pitcher (starter or reliever, long or short) throws a spitter, you’ll see the hitter cry foul. The umpires, the men in dark suits who stand behind the bases and enforce the rules, take a lot of foul abuse from players and fans, who holler foul when they don’t agree with the umpire’s decision. Foul weather will cancel a game, putting everybody in a foul mood.

There's a lot to grasp in our national pastime, so, if you're sitting there with your sweetie, or going out with the gang after work, to catch a game, you don't want to come off as Miss South Carolina.

Have a little pride, get glove, get in the game, as they say.

Go read The Garlic's "Could You Please Tell Me, What Is This Thing Called Baseball?"

It will save you from suffering a summer of ridicule.

Bonus Fungo Riffs

Politics and Sports Collide ...Paperwork Mix-Up Has Feingold Censuring Bonds and MLB Investigating Bush

Breaking News! ... Baseball Bombshell Expands Steroid Scandal ... Giants’ Bonds Tests Positive For Landis Testosterone ... Cyclist Said To Be Kingpin Of Lucrative Doping Ring, Selling His Own DNA

Top Ten Cloves: Reasons Mitchell Baseball Steroid Investigation Is Unlike CIA Torture Tapes Case

Top Ten Cloves: Things About Citigroup Keeping Stadium Sponsorship After Getting Government Bailout

You Don't Hit With Your Face

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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