You knew this was coming one day and, now that it is clear that a majority of the Linköpinglivin’ readership is Swedish, this is your opportunity to give baseball a chance.
C’mon, do it for me – just pretend for a moment…
Imagine a warm summer’s day in a big city in the United States. The work week has finished, morning is passing by and a family of four or longtime college friends or a couple on a date or a group of international visitors are heading out to a 45,000 seat stadium to “take in a ballgame.” There’s not a bad seat in the stadium, hot dogs and drinks-of-choice have been purchased, the players run out on to the field, everyone stands for the National Anthem and at it’s conclusion, the umpire (referee) yells “Play Ball!”
For the next three hours, time will stop, conversation will be plentiful, occasional excitement will ensue, minds will wander, families and friends will laugh together and hopefully the home team will win. This is America’s game. Despite the recent popularity of American football, baseball is and always will be our "National Pastime."
And today, every year on the second Monday of spring, is what’s known as Opening Day, that beautiful day of the year when the baseball season has just begun, and there is a whole spring, summer and part of fall left to be played to determine the World Series champion – and Europeans in particular love that we call it the World Series!
As usual in describing the rules of a game to a new audience, any explanation sounds fairly degrading and childish, but here goes:
1) Each team tries to score more “runs” (points) than the other.
2) To score a run, a batter must advance to all four “bases,” the last one being “home plate” where the run is scored.
3) Each team has 9 “innings” or sets of chances to score runs before making three “outs,” which is what the defensive team is trying to get to stop the runs. Everything depends on whether and where the ball is hit when the pitcher has pitched it.
4) You have 2 parts to every inning – one for the away team and one for the home team.
5) After 9 innings, whoever has the most runs wins, unless it’s tied then you play as many innings as needed to determine the winner (“extra” innings is similar to overtime and my very favorite part of baseball).
Easy enough, right?
Famous and legendary teams are the New York Yankees, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago Cubs and a few others. I see Yankee and Dodger hats all over Europe, but I know enough to know that the Europeans wearing these hats have no idea who Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax or Derek Jeter are (famous historical and current players).
Many people, even most Americans, make fun of baseball because “there is so much standing around.” It is said that in a three-hour baseball game, there is actually only 10 minutes of action. But that’s just the point! Baseball may be the last part of American society where it is acceptable, okay and even embraced to just stand around doing nothing – Swedes, think of baseball as one long equivalent of fika! Let us have our one place in society where we can sit back, relax, get away from it all and just enjoy a nice summer’s day with family and friends (and no work). Yes indeed, Americans need this game.
For those of you in Sweden willing to give this a try, check out NASN (North American Sports Network) anytime between now and the end of October. You’re bound to find a game, but just remember that the beauty of baseball is discovered in person, not on TV. Even most Americans say that baseball on TV is about as interesting as watching paint dry.
Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?
1. Yankee Stadium on a nice summer's night.