Being a baseball fan in Canada can sometimes be very trying. Generally we don't get the same amount of baseball coverage as our American counterparts, and what little we do get is pushed back due to Hockey (of any sort) stories. Over the past few years the Jays have done a good job of bringing back some interest in the team. Ratings are strong, ticket sales are rising and you will hear a lot more people talking about the Jays then you would in the past.
Of course not everyone likes baseball as much as the fine folks that frequent this blog. I can almost guarantee that if you live in Canada and someone finds out you are a big baseball fan you will inevitably be faced with some variation of the question:
How can you watch that? It's so slow and boring!
Many times this question is just met with a shrug. "To each their own!" people will say, "It's not just the game it's the experience" others will exclaim. "I think J.P Arenciba is hot" is what my wife normally says....Anyways, I digress and you get my point. Everyone has their own different reasons for liking baseball. Sometimes we have a hard time conveying to a non-fan exactly why or how we feel this way.
While I was watching the first games of the season for the Jays I had an epiphany on the reason why I like baseball and even more surprising an easy way I could explain it to people.
A few years ago the NHL implemented the shoot-out as a method for deciding tie games at the end of 5 minutes of overtime. Now I tend to agree with many hockey fans around the interwebs that the shoot-out is nothing more than a glorified skills competition, and as such is a poor method for deciding outcomes of games and deciding points in playoff race. That being said no one can deny it is exciting. I hate the concept of a shoot-out, but every time the Leafs were in one, I was on the edge of my seat. I would sit there with a sick to my stomach feeling before every shot. It's the anticipation of the shot that will get you every time. You know that in moments that sick to the stomach feeling will be turned into joy, relief, anger and sadness or everything all at once.
Now think back to the first few games the Jays have played this year, extra innings and close games. Think about how you felt as you were watching the game. To me it's the same feeling. On the season opener going into the ninth inning I was on the edge of my seat but the sick to my stomach feeling wasn't just between every at-bat but every pitch. The anticipation stretched out as each pitch potentially decides the outcome of the game. And it is not only late innings, you start feeling the tension of a close game as early as the 4th and 5th inning.
Of course not every game is like that. I'll be the first to admit that in blowouts I lose interest pretty quick whether or not the Jays are winning. These are times Ill focus more on joking around in the game threads or poking around on twitter. Although to be fair, I can't imagine a sport where this isn't the case in a blowout win or loss.
Maybe I'm wired wrong, who knows maybe we all are. The reason I watch baseball is because of that sick to my stomach feeling and the payoff that comes when the Jays score and that sick feeling turns to joy. Whenever someone asks me the question how I can watch baseball all I can ever think is "How can you not? It's the most exciting thing I know".