|Cano, Cruz & Felix|
Monday, April 06, 2015
It's Opening Day
You may have heard me say this before, both here and in other venues, that the game of baseball just may be the most perfect game/sport/contest ever created. The conjecture is verifiable at so many levels and for so many reasons.
First, and perhaps foremost, for a batter to react to a pitched ball in milliseconds and swing/place his bat in perfect position to squarely meet a speeding, spinning, curving and dimensionally moving baseball, is a skill requiring utmost hand/eye coordination. Very few people on earth have that ability at the professional level.
It’s one thing to shoot a basket, run with a football or kick a soccer ball into the goal. But try using a stick to hit a little ball approaching you at triple-digit speed and having some lateral movement to boot. You get the picture.
Then there is the element of perfect dimensions. No other sport, in my view, has the critical relationships of measures like baseball has.
For instance, the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate is 60-feet, six inches. At that distance, since baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY, 174 years ago this summer, no human has been able to throw no-hitters at will, nor has any batter been able to claim success more than 40% of the time. And the vast majority of even professional players are only able to get hits less than 30% of the time. Which has made baseball a game for the ages – and perhaps for the age to come (so son Gregg and I believe).
The distance between bases is another marvel. At 90-feet, no hitter has been able to consistently beat-out infield hits. One might speculate that sooner or later someone would come along with extraordinary speed who could hit a ground ball in the infield and make it to first base every time. Hasn’t happened – and likely never will.
The square that forms the baseball infield (affectionately called a diamond) is a design of perfection, maintaining continuing high levels of competition between offense and defense. With a parity of playing ability, baseball will always remain a chess match on grass and consist of fair and difficult battles.
Last night was Opening Night for the 2015 Season, in a game won by the Cards over the Cubs at Wrigley Field, which is undergoing four years of renovation-between-home-stands. Today just about all of the remaining teams will enjoy Opening Day or Opening Night.
Last year the San Francisco Giants, the team I have followed since the 1951 Bobby Thompson home run, won its third World Series Championship in five years, this one on the strength of the arm of pitcher Madison Bumgarner who blew away virtually every WS pitching record.
This year, our Seattle Mariners at this point enjoy the fifth-best odds of winning the World Series, something that has never happened here. Better get used to hearing the names of Cano, Cruz, Seager, Ackley, Morrison, Hernandez and Walker.
The Modern Mariners are ready to navigate the high seas of Major League Baseball. Let’s play ball!