Ok, common wisdom says that the best way to enjoy a baseball game is to get a beer and a hot dog and just enjoy being in the sunshine with your friends while the game goes on. There’s some validity to that-especially now that stadiums such as Coors Field have teamed up with proper restaurants, and you can replace “beer and a hot dog” with “margarita and a taco.”
However, the great American sport is more than just background noise for an outdoor picnic. THere’s that whole “thinking man’s game” aspect. Plus, the players can be cute.
The best advice I’ve found for any sport, though, is to get to know your team.
IDENTIFY YOUR TEAM
If you’re going to baseball games, then you’ve got a favorite team already chosen for you-the home guys. Sure, you can cheer for the biggest, shiniest team around. The San Francisco Giants won the MLB Championship last season. However, if you’re not in San Francisco, you’re not going to get to see a lot of Giant’s games.
Instead, get to know your local team. Figure out who the players are. It’s always more fun to cheer at sporting events if you can yell out specific names. “Great Hit. Miguel Cabrera!” feels more authentic than, “Great hit, Detroit Tigers batter!” (Which is still more authentic than, “Great hit, guy with a D on your cap!” Props for trying, though.)
LEARN WHO THE PLAYERS ARE
When you’re at a baseball game, get a program. What until your team is in the field, then work you way from home base out. Start with the catcher-he’s the guy on your team who’s behind home base. He’ll be wearing a mask because those balls travel fast.
Since the catcher will be wearing a mask, though, it’ll be hard to identify him later when he’s at-bat. So, move on to the pitcher. He’s easy to spot since he’s standing on a hill at the center of the action. Work your way around the bases. When you’re ready, start figuring out who all the outfielders are.
Once you know who everyone is, choose a favorite player or two. Just like having a home team to root for makes being a sports fan more fun, having a favorite player to follow makes sports almost like reality TV! You can read about what he’s doing right and wrong in the sports pages and start forming your own opinions.
Trust me-I found out all about what makes a stellar hockey defenseman because my favorite Detroit Redwing plays that position. When he didn’t get chosen for the Olympics…when he got suspended…when the Redwings finally got eliminated from the playoffs…This is the drama reality TV wishes it could create.
LEARN THE RULES AND STRATEGIES
Sometimes, one of the best ways to learn about the ins and outs of a sport is by actually watching it on TV.
Ok, you totally thought I was going to say “by playing it.” Obviously, playing a sport is the best way to learn the rules and strategies. If you’re a baseball or softball player, though you’re probably either too busy playing the game yourself to go as a spectator, OR you already know how to appreciate the sport.
So, watch some baseball on TV. Why is this helpful? Because the announcers really know their stuff. They know who the payers are. They know the rules. They know the strategies. Often they are former players themselves, so they even share little insider tidbits.
GET YOUR MARG AND TACO-THEN ENJOY!
Once you’ve learned something about baseball in general and your team specifically, you’ll find enjoying the game itself just comes naturally. You’ll be at the game, and you’ll want to see how your favorite players do. You’ll want to see if those silly sports reporters are correct about the weaknesses in your team’s game.
You’ll hate the opponents because they don’t concede the greatness of your team. Or because they’re better than your team. Or the referees must be on their side because obviously your player was totally safe…
You’ll know you’re a true baseball fan when you spill your margarita or drop your taco-all in the name of love for your team.