Wednesday, July 13, 2005

America's National Pastime

It's been a busy couple of weeks, shuttling between Melbourne, Atlanta and Minneapolis and the traveling took its toll on blogging. Somehow, I don't feel entirely comfortable working on a plane, so that added to it. Well anyway, it's back to blogosphere again. Being in the US, it was hard to escape baseball, particularly on ESPN especially given that this part of the year represents as off-season for the other three major pro leagues, NBA, NFL and NHL. In fact, there is so much baseball on ESPN that it can transform itself into an exclusive MLB channel at any given time. I'm exaggerating, of course. I do like baseball, even though it comes down the order following basketball and (American) football. Being mid-season, it was All-Star week for baseball. But it was actually back in Melbourne last night that I caught the All-Star game on Fox. The time zone changes meant that I was struggling to keep awake even at 9 pm, but I did manage to catch the AL and NL intros as well as Miguel Tejada's blast to the left field off John Smoltz. Both men have enjoyed great seasons, and both Orioles in the AL East and Braves in the NL East are still in contention. The Orioles are in somewhat of a slump having started the season white hot, but Tejada isn't letting up and is a firm favourite for league MVP at this point. Smoltz may not quite be an MVP candidate, but is surely enjoying his position in the starting rotation after quite a few seasons as a closer. One of the problems with Major League Baseball is the number of games played in a season - each team plays about 160 games a season! That makes it the busiest league anywhere, and double-headers abound. Except for pitchers, however, baseball doesn't put the same exacting demands on players as sports like basketball or soccer do. Starting pitchers get rotated, however, to provide their arms some much needed rest. For fans, it could be difficult to sustain the interest levels, especially in the early part of the season and usually the momentum builds only after the All-Star week. That's when the play-off places are up for grabs, anyway. In this context, I was astounded to note that Boston actually sold out all of their 81 home games last season (this was before they won the World Series)! That shows the passion for the game in Beantown, even if Fenway Park is a small park. - NK

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