Friday, August 1, 2008
Hockey Versus Baseball (Hint: Hockey Wins!)
I love hockey, as anyone with a passing familiarity with me knows. From late September to mid-June, I am pretty much unavailable for societal functions. I turn off my phone. I don’t return e-mails. I stop looking both ways when crossing the road. I am glued to the television, watching my beloved Los Angeles Kings embarrass me night after night.
Being a hockey fan in southern California is hard. When most people discover that I am a hockey fan, they immediately assume I’m an Anaheim Ducks fan. Well, before that they get confused and think I’m talking about Soccer or Badminton or any of the other sports 99% of Americans don’t care about. Once they figure out that I’m talking about the sport played on ice that isn’t curling, they assume I’m a Ducks fan. Which makes me want to stab them in each eye with a used spork. Kings fans hate Ducks fans. Ducks fans hate Kings fans. It’s the SoCal equivalent of the Yankees and the Red Sox.
And, so it goes, year after year. I obsess over hockey and fill in the occasional gaps in my schedule by watching the NFL. But the summers are long, and boring, with only a few brief weeks before and after the hockey season to keep me entertained (Yes, I watch the NHL Draft, NHL Awards, pre-season games, Free Agent Day, YouTube clips of training camp, reruns of playoff games on the NHL Network, etc, etc, etc…). So, this summer, I’ve made an attempt to ingratiate myself to America’s past-time. You know, the one that isn’t football?
When I was a kid, my father made me play a few seasons of kiddie-baseball. I don’t think I played in Little League. I want to say I played in the Junior Baseball Association, but I can’t be sure. I really don’t care. I was terrible at the game. But I was dutiful. He brainwashed me into caring about the Los Angeles Dodgers. I watched their games. I wore the hats and t-shirts he bought for me. I drank the blue Kool-Aid.
That is, until the early 90s. I was becoming a teenager, and I decided that I really didn’t give a crap about baseball. I liked hockey, girls, and football, in that order. The last game I watched or even attended was when I was 17. I was taking a journalism class at Bakersfield College, and one of our group assignments was to attend a local baseball game and each write a story about it. I think I might have written about how boring the experience was.
Flash-forward 12 years, and here I am making an attempt to understand why people are interested in baseball. I have a few friends who are absolutely die-hard baseball fans. A few Boston Red Sox fans… A few San Francisco Giants fans… Hell, one of my old bosses is a dyed-in-the-wool Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim fan. And, of course, there’s my father, who is still a Dodgers fan.
So, I try to understand them better. And I watch a few games a week. I still don’t get it. The game is slow, and I think a lot of fans would agree with me on that. There is a certain “chess match” quality to it, I suppose. And I do love the fact that 114% of the league’s players aren’t from the United States. What can I say? I love a good accent!
I don’t really know for sure if I’ll ever truly appreciate baseball. I just haven’t had that moment or moments that make it click for me. I don’t even know if I’ll pick a team to follow. Maybe just to be contrary, I’ll become a Toronto Blue Jays fan. They suck, right?