Thursday, June 13, 2013

By David Saltzer, Senior Writer - 

Chuck Richter started a thread on about why he’s still watching Angels games this year. In his opinion, it’s about watching individual players: Bourjos stealing a homerun; watching Trout develop; Trumbo launching a bomb; Weaver possibly throwing another no-hitter; Kendrick competing for a batting title, etc.

I agree with Chuck on all of those reasons and a few more. Chuck’s reasoning can be split into two aspects: baseball as history and baseball as reality. But baseball is more than that: It is an investment in one’s self and

Baseball is history. As a fan, I want to know everything about the Angels. I want to recall every homerun and stellar play so that years from now, when my sons ask me a question about a an event, I will know the answer. Baseball as history allows me to compare current and future players to those in the past to see how they may develop. It’s what allows baseball to connect the generations. Without knowing the history from every game and every season, comparisons start to fray until that point when they are no longer valid.

Quick question: What is the longest running reality TV show? I would argue that baseball, as a continually broadcast sporting event is the longest running show ever on TV. As a fan, I know (or can look up) all the scores from every game up until today. However, until I see the final out of today’s game, I won’t know the outcome of today’s game. And I have no idea what will happen in tomorrow’s game. Anything can happen. Baseball is the sport that gave us the quote “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings”. I was at the game against Detroit in 1986 when the Angels turned a 12-5 loss in at the end of the 8th inning into a 13-12 win at the end of the 9th.

Again, Chuck’s point that he still watches the game to follow individual performances is an important part of baseball as reality. Watching Bourjos rob a player of a homerun is definitely worth the price of admission. Following Trout develop is something that every Angels fan should do. Following Trumbo in his pursuit to hit 40+ HRs in a season should be a source of pride for all Angels fans. Being there when Weaver throws his next no-hitter is something that should excite all Angels fans. Seeing if Kendrick can finally win a batting title is something to follow for an entire season. The only thing is, in order for me to be a participate in the baseball as reality, I have to be there, watching the games.

The last reason why I still watch the games is to make an investment in myself. Some fans act as if by watching a game or buying season tickets, they are investing in the team. I understand this sentiment, but I don’t subscribe to it. While part of why I am an Angels fan is to be a part of something larger than myself, I choose to see my time and financial investment as an investment in myself, not in the team. That way, I don’t have to sweat every single loss and instead can focus on every single joy.

For me, there is nothing more relaxing and enjoyable than being at a baseball game. I’m outside, it’s relaxing, I’m with a friend or relative, and I’m entertained. It doesn’t get much better than that. My season tickets represent a sizable chunk of my discretionary money. I choose to spend it on myself to force myself to relax. Going to a baseball game forces me to slow down at regular intervals. It’s my escape from all the annoyances of the world and a chance to focus on something that makes me happy. If I didn’t have the tickets, I might not take those breaks, and my life would suffer.

Baseball is unique from all the other major sports in one crucial way: it has no time clock. It’s the only major sport where one team can’t win by controlling time. As a fan, I prefer that. It ensures that the game is on its own time—which is totally different than every other part of the day for most people.

There is one reason that I specifically did not list as why I watch the games. I specifically excluded whether or not the Angels made the post season as a reason why I watch the games. While I always want the Angels to win it all, I know that it won’t always happen. Moreover, it takes away from the enjoyment of the game, and makes watching the game a chore or work, much like having to write a book report turns the pleasant experience of reading into a chore. That goes against all the pleasure that I get from the other three reasons why I watch the game, so I exclude it as a valid reason.

This season has not gone according to anyone’s plans. No one could have predicted how off the team’s performance has been. As a fan, it’s very easy to be frustrated and angry with the team right now. But, it’s not a reason to entirely tune it out. Instead of focusing on the standings during every game, focus on other specific things, like those reasons that Chuck Richter listed.  You will find the game more enjoyable, and you will get more out of the games. Hanging with the team when things are tough make it that much better to be a fan when the team wins it all. And, if you do, you will earn the right to share in the joy when they do win it all. 
Love to hear what you think!

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