Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Baseball Essay

A few weeks ago, I sent in an application to MLB.com for some dream job offer they had. I apparently had waited too long, and there was a second part to the application that I didn't have time for, but I wrote an essay they asked for. Below is that essay. The prompt was "Talk about why you like baseball."

I went to my first baseball game when I was 7 years old. My aunt and uncle had just gotten married, and didn't yet have any children, so they invited me and my cousin to come with them to see our hometown Orioles play host to the Tigers. This was during the Orioles' historically awful 1988 season, but I didn't know enough about baseball to realize that when I saw them win the game, I was seeing a rarity.

I think it's fair to say that I was hooked right away. Seeing a baseball field live for the first time was tremendous, and I still get goose bumps every time I walk out from the concourse into a stadium. There’s no greener grass than outfield grass. But the most distinct memory I have from the game was when Jack Morris was pulled for a reliever, the song "Hit the Road Jack" came on the loudspeaker. I thought it was the coolest thing in the world that they had found this song that perfectly fit the game scenario, and sang along loudly, as only a 7-year-old can.

As I've grown, while I still appreciate the beauty of a baseball field, the thing I find most striking about a baseball game is the intensity of each pitch. More than any other team sport, baseball gives you the direct confrontation of two wills, pitcher versus hitter. In a close game, the tension of each pitch is almost magical. Fifteen seconds of plotting and planning by the pitcher and catcher, the deep breath, and then everything crescendos into that one moment when the hitter starts to offer at the pitch. For that split-second, literally anything can happen.

I guess maybe that’s why I like baseball so much: possibility. At the beginning of every season, we remind ourselves that, hey, the Marlins have a couple World Series rings. And, remember back in 1991 when the Twins and Braves both went worst-to-first to meet in the Fall Classic? On April 1st, every team has a shot. You don’t get that same feeling in football, or even basketball, despite the fact that more than half of the NBA makes the playoffs.

One last thing about baseball that I think sets it apart from the other team sports is its ability to withstand its fantasy counterpart. I’ve played pretty much every fantasy sport out there, but baseball is the only sport that, for me, has remained interesting to me in both the real game and the fantasy game. If anything, fantasy baseball has made me a more broad baseball fan. I knew about Ryan Braun before he’d ever played a game. The case was the same with Clayton Kershaw, Evan Longoria, and Tim Lincecum. Seeing these super-prospects turn into major league superstars gives them a story in my mind; I’ve watched them from the beginning.

PS: I know the ending is a little abrupt; they had a word limit, and I was right up against it.

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