As I sit here on a cool, gray mid-September day, watching my Baltimore Orioles in a late season series against the New York (Satans) Yankees, I realize that I’ve been here before. I sat here watching this same game 5 months ago. I did it last year this same time. I did it 20 years ago, when the illusion of me become an Oriole myself was still a reality (you can still be whatever you want to be, kids).
But it’s not just me. I’m also currently in a 6 month long group text message with 4 of my closest buds (we started during preseason because we’re obsessive). This is impressive in and of itself since in general NO ONE likes to be part of a group message. Oh and we text during the O’s games EVERY day. Consider the commitment that takes.
Being a baseball fan is comparable in many ways to being in a long-term, committed relationship. Unlike football, where you get 3-hours of passion, intensity and high action once a week for 4 months. With baseball, you have 6 long months consisting of 162 games that may take 2 hours or 5 hours with some spikes of adrenaline throughout. And God forbid its a “Pitcher’s Duel” where you get 3 hours of ZERO offense and essentially watching 2 guys play catch.
But what does this teach you? It teaches you to look at the big picture. Every game only accounts for .617% of your overall season, which means there’s no need to get super jazzed nor depressed about any individual game. You learn its the whole body of work; how many series you’ve won, do you have winning records vs your division rivals, etc. Most importantly, do you have enough wins in August to be considered “in the hunt” for the playoffs! Like a relationship, every day is a new day. If you weren’t at your best yesterday, do a little extra today and even better tomorrow. You’re in it for the long haul, not the quick hit. With the NFL, every single game is crucial. In fact, if your team starts 0-2 you have like a 4% chance of even MAKING the Super Bowl.
For better or for worse. When your baseball team is bad, just plain not good, they’re going to stay that way for a while. Just ask Cubs fans who haven’t seen their team win a World Series in over 100 years. Hell, even me as an O’s fan, just saw my first O’s playoff game since I was 11 years old in 2012. And bringing in one stud pitcher or hitter will not immediately make your team a contender. Patience, development, growing together; that’s how build a better team, that’s how you build a better relationship. The Denver Broncos went from an 8-8 team in 2011 behind the arm (?) of Tim Tebow to 13-3 in 2012 and 13-3 and a Super Bowl appearance in 2013 behind Petyon Manning. Or the Redskins (not an offensive team name, damnit!) going from 5-11 in 2011 to 10-6 in 2012 behind RGIII. What would this look like in a relationship? “Oh, this isn’t working out and I’m bored. We’re breaking up and I’m going to go date the hot girl who makes my Americano in the morning.”
Finally, being an MLB fan teaches you patience. Not only during each and every game as the batter goes through his pre-approach and the pitcher takes his sweet time picking up the sign, but for the entire season. Even now, as the O’s are nearly a lock to win the AL East, there are still 14 games left with important teams left to beat. Anything could happen. So you can damn well bet I’ll be watching each of those 14 games.
If the NFL is like the relationships in six seasons of Jersey Shore: loud, intense, quick-hit one-night stands. MLB is like the relationship between Lucy and Rick Ricardo for 6 seasons in I Love Lucy: ups, downs, crazy moments, not-so-crazy moments, but always ending up together.
It’s still America’s Pastime,