Ahh, baseball. With one of the longest seasons and the highest number of professional games per season, it truly is one of the dullest sports we have. If you find yourself dating/married to/befriending a person who loves baseball, you are in for a bit of a dull ride. But I truly believe that there are ways to enjoy all sports and, just like football, there are things you can look for to make the game more interesting. Here’s your guide to how to watch baseball if you are forced to do so.
If you are at a live game, get a program. Not only will this have an important role in one of the games you’ll play later in the 8th inning when you think you’re going to lose your mind with boredom, it also works as a fan if your seats are in the sun, or if the game is being played anywhere south of about Chicago. Also, of course, have the person who brought you to the game get you a salty snack and a cold beverage. Look, you haven’t even sat down yet and already you’re having a good time!
Once you’re settled in your seat, check out where you are in relation to the rest of the field. You’ll want to see what general direction balls may be flying at you from. If you are super new to the game, look for the guy at home plate holding the bat. He’s going to be your potential assailant, and it’s a good idea to figure out where he is going to be launching his assault. No matter where you are, though, you need to be sure that your baseball-loving friend knows how comfortable you are with any flying materials that might come your way. If you feel like you can handle a baseball heading in your direction, let them know. If you feel like it would really really ruin your day if one came near you, tell your sporty friend that they are in charge of all flying objects. Test their commitment by having a small child throw a piece of popcorn at you. Admonish them if they don’t intercept the airborne kernel, so that they know you are serious.
Now that your safety and food and beverage needs have been attended to, you probably will need to turn your attention to the actual sports game. I can’t sugar coat this for you. The game of baseball is SLOW. After about an hour, you are going to wonder how in the hell they are only in the 3rd inning. You’ll need to know how to use your attention reserves efficiently. A good place to start is to check in on the pitcher when he throws the ball. Maybe he has a goofy wind up, like John Gant of the Washington Nationals. Even if he doesn’t, his pitch is the catalyst for anything exciting that might happen next, so it’s a good place to start. If you miss a pitch (or seven), don’t worry, there’ll be another one soon. If you do find your attention slipping, try to listen for that telltale crack of the bat when a hitter makes contact, and then try to find the ball that’s been hit. If the guy hitting starts running, this usually means the ball is somewhere fun. If he just stands by the catcher, the ball is likely out of play and you can go back to checking your phone. The pitcher will throw many more pitches than get hit, let alone get hit anywhere exciting, so you’re going to have to find things to look at outside of that.
Pay special attention to the player who is standing closest to you when the teams are on the field. If you are sitting near left field, make the left fielder on both teams your focus for the game. Focusing in on a position helps guide your watching experience and if he does something exciting, you’ll have a good view. Pick a side to root for—if you’re not a fan anyway it truly doesn’t matter which one, but the home team is often a good side to go for. You can also choose based on team colours, best overall facial hair, or if you just get a good vibe from your closest player. Once you’ve picked your team, when your left fielder gets up to bat, cheer for him like it’s his last day on Earth. Yell things like “Good eye,” “That’s the cheddar,” and “Kaboooom” at random times during his at bat. Likewise, when the team you’re now rooting against is batting, yell nonsense when their left-fielder is at bat. Try things like “What is this, the DMV?,” “Not today, sunshine,” and “Turkey trot.” Feel free to invent your own as you go; just trust your instincts here.
Another fun thing to do at a baseball game is to watch the strange superstitions of the grown-ass men playing a children’s game for their profession. Often they will have specific handshakes with each member of their team, rivalling Abbi Abram’s specialized Bed, Bath, and Beyond routines (here’s a small list of some good weird handshakes). Many of them will have special tics that they do before going to bat, and you can observe these and make judgements about who is weirdest. You’ll also see the outfielders signalling to each other after every play—it’s part of the way they keep themselves engaged in the game and make sure they are focused and ready to do whatever they need to do given the game situation. They look goofy doing it, so that is fun to watch.
By now we’re likely about two hours into the game and hopefully by this point some fun things will have happened. Your left field man will have hit the baseball a far way (maybe even a home run, which is truly the only legitimately exciting part of a baseball game), and your team’s pitcher will have struck out a number of their players, making them look like real fools swinging at nothing but air. As that dreaded 8th inning comes around, and you are grasping at the last strands of your interest in the game, it’s time to turn back to that trusty program you bought early on. Brush away the liberal amount of peanut shells that sit atop it, and flip to the player bios section. It’s time to pick your baseball boyfriend (or if dudes aren’t your thing, your new baseball bestie). I can’t overstate this enough. This is the most important thing you’ll do at the park today.
You can create your own matrix of criteria, but standard measures include facial hair, interestingness of name, hairstyle, and general comfort in front of the team photographer on the day the photos were taken. If their press team have chosen to include other character details like “favourite food,” you’ve hit the program jackpot. You can make it a true test of which player you would date (and which you would assign to everyone in your party, and all of your mutual friends, if time requires), or you can go the other way and pick the gooniest looking fella among them. Trust me, there’ll be at least one goony one.
There you go! You’ve made it through an entire baseball game, and you didn’t even get hit in the face (or succumb to the Tarp Monster). Nailed it.