Baseball. Where grown men of highly varying fitness levels are paid millions to wear pajamas and throw balls at other men armed with sticks and wearing different colored PJs.
So the World Series kicks off this Tuesday night in the USA, Wednesday morning in Australia, and I’m damn excited.
It’s an obsession that started five years ago, when I first visited New York and everyone told me that I had to get to a baseball game. Especially as I’m Australian, and we’re all apparently mad for sport, beer and fried things – which is exactly what baseball is all about.
Since I couldn’t afford a ticket to the Yankees, I went to a Mets game, and nothing happened. For ages. Then something happened so quickly I wasn’t sure it was a thing, and then there was much more nothing, and then it was over. It was exactly like going to a nightclub.
So I thought baseball was boring, but a professor once told me that if you try something once and don’t like it, then try, try and try it again. That professor isn’t allowed to teach anymore, but I persisted with baseball, and I’m now obsessed.
Baseball has mastered that moment that’s the focus of every sport – that moment when something is on the brink of happening, with all it’s expectation and possible joy, and it’s packed in every time the pitcher slingshots the ball towards the plate. It could be hit out of the ballpark, or into a double play, or not. Then it’s less than a minute until it all might happen again.
Also there’s the ongoing battle between the pitcher and every batter. The strategy, the mind games, it’s like they’re playing chess combined with Cluedo, mixed in with a little Mexican standoff and a dash of violence, as it’s all happening at nearly 100 mph.
An added bonus is how excited Americans get about the whole thing, and they don’t do sarcasm, which means there’s nobody to tell them to calm down. Building up to the World Series is like being in a nation of people who’ve eaten too much sugar, which they’re trying to fix by just eating more sugar. Which is funny, because it’s true.
Personally, I’m extra excited because my chosen team, the New York Mets, has a chance to win it all. A bunch of random millionaires I’ve never met who come from all over the world and happen to wear the same shirt, and I care a lot more than is logical or reasonable, but they might win something so… Yay!
The New York Mets haven’t won the World Series since 1986, while their opponents, the Kansas City Royals, haven’t won it all since 1985. That’s nearly sixty years of combined pain right there. How about that for tension?
By the way, Kansas City is in Missouri, and don’t worry if you can’t point it out on a map, neither can most Americans. It’s main claim to fame are it’s tornados that transport young girls to magical alternate universes, and witch-crushing houses, and it’s also where Superman crash landed.
Both teams then have the payrolls to match their underdog status. In 2015 the total player payments for the New York Mets were only $120 million, while Kansas City spent $125 million. Which might be more than the grand total of money spent by every professional sports team in Australia last year, but it’s a pittance compared to the New York Yankees at $219 million, and the Los Angeles Dodgers at $314 million.
Last year, Kansas made it to Game 7 of the World Series, only to be beaten by San Francisco. This year, the Royals weren’t rated at all, and have taken that snub to heart by literally fighting their way through the season, clearing out the benches and frequently indulging in fisticuffs, all while wearing their pajamas.
The Mets then have always been the New York Yankee’s less popular and talented younger brother. They only entered the league after both the Dodgers and Giants moved from the east coast to the west, and their main color is orange for god’s sake, a color that only ever looks good on actual oranges. Which are all reasons why I adore them. It’s easy to side with a winner, then just hang around until they win again, but nowhere near as satisfy as backing a perennial whipping boy, and watching them win it all.
Which I’ll be doing, from a bar nearby, as tickets to the World Series start at $700. Making it a potentially unforgettable experience, because to afford a ticket, I’d have to forgo anything non-essential like eating, bathing or breathing, for a very long time.
Anyway, make sure to tune in throughout the series, as I give probably the most ill-conceived and poorly informed roundups of each game. Get slightly excited!
Xavier Toby pretends to be a writer and comedian, and on Saturday nights, he pretends to be an astronaut.