The End of Terror in Boston Simply Reminds Us Why We Watch
The traumatic events in Boston finally came to a resolution last night. As sports arenas across the country, from hated rivals to unrelated franchises out west, continued to show their support for our city this week, it highlighted the true nature of fandom in professional sports. That is their capacity to bring people together, to unify a local or national population through shared experiences and vested interests. Now that the madness is over, it’s time for us to consider why we watch story lines unfold in Major League Baseball, and why we will continue to bond over our national pastime.
Of course we have an interest in the young phenoms, the breakout stars who make an immediate impact due to the electric nature of their talent. Matt Harvey is not only an ace, he appears to be the front-runner for the N.L. CY Young Award. The 24-year-old from New London, Conn. boasts a 4-0 record, with a 0.93 ERA, and 0.65 WHIP, while striking out over a batter per inning in his first four starts this year. His numbers are impressive, but when you watch the kid pitch, you become a believer. David Price declared that Harvey is his favorite pitcher (outside of his teammates) after one start, and after out-pitching Stephen Strasburg on Friday night, he had the entire stadium chanting “Harvey’s better!”
Americans will take a Dark Horse over that touted young prospect any day. Harvey flew under the radar, and burst unto the scene with immaculate control and incredible stuff. He doesn’t have the endorsements, the high-powered agent, and he makes about one-eighth ($499 thousand a year) of what Strasburg makes, yet there he was demonstrating his worth in indisputable fashion.
We watch for the old dogs that seem to learn new tricks every summer. For the Torii Hunters who can re-design their swing and lead the league in batting average with a new team. To see if Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and the other aging stars who are trying to come back from devastating injuries can regain their form.
We watch to see big name pitchers find their groove, and lose it again. To see Barry Zito pitch like he was back in his prime for two weeks, only to regress in his third start, and to see Roy Halladay lose his mojo entirely, before struggling to find his way back to becoming an average starter.
We look for new beginnings, for new faces in different places. We see how Carl Crawford has revitalized his career in Los Angeles, how Paul Maholm has yet to allow a run in Atlanta, and we wonder at their determination to succeed in their new situations. At the same time, we see players collapse under the pressure. We see Josh Hamilton struggle as badly as Albert Pujols did after signing a massive deal with the Angels, and we follow their story with just as much interest.
But beyond all the personal arcs and variable statistics, there is something undeniably communal about following a baseball team. There is something about spring, when the Royals are somehow in first place, the Rockies and Athletics are two of the hottest teams in the majors, and everyone is an optimist (except for Astros fans), that unites as all.
And when the Red Sox, a team that has already turned things around from a baseball standpoint, take the field one day after their city was held hostage by terror, that unification will be magnified tenfold. Our country will stand by Boston, if only for one day, and demonstrate that nothing will stop us from enjoying the promise of another summer in the majors. We will overcome, we will be stronger, and all that, but most of all, we will watch, love, and enjoy baseball.
Posted on April 20, 2013, in 2017, MLB and tagged Barry Zito, boston red sox, Boston Strong, Carl Crawford, Chase Utley, Josh Hamilton, Matt Harvey, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, stephen strasburg, Torii Hunter. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.