1. Hot Dogs: Hot Dogs never taste as good as when you eat them at a ball park.
2. Girls: I have noticed that there often a surprising number of good looking girls at ball games. By the middle innings of a game on a hot summer afternoon, they are often barefoot, scantily clad, and sweaty. This is where sex and baseball come together, an unbeatable combination.
3. Camaraderie: Sitting in a pub with a ball game on, striking up a conversation with the guy sitting next to you. You’ve never met before, but you form an instant bond over the fact that you both think Johnny Damon looks like a hairless monkey and throws like a girl.
4. Strategy: Sitting (I do too much sitting) along the third base line, or on my couch at home, explaining to my son why the shortstop is cheating over towards second base with a runner on first. Or why the sacrifice bunt is for losers.
5. Babe Ruth: Only baseball could have produced the Sultan of Swat. Hercules, P.T. Barnum and a scruffy, profane street kid all rolled up in one. If he’d never actually existed, we would have had to pay Studs Terkel big bucks to invent him.
6. Countdown to Opening Day: My kids have the twelve days of Christmas (actually more like 45) to build up the anticipation of their favorite holiday. My countdown to Opening Day begins as soon as the first snow hits the ground. Then, as Rogers Hornsby said, I just stare out the window and wait for spring.
7. Baseball Cards: I don’t buy as many as I used to, but I still get the same rush of anticipation every time I open a new pack. The contents of most packs are pretty standard and predictable (Derek Lowe, Astros Team Checklist, Joe Girardi manager card,) but once in a while, you find a real gem.
8. Baseball Movies: I wait for those hot July summer nights, crack open a beer, and watch The Natural, Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, or whatever baseball movie I’m in the mood for. They’re all more than a little corny (and I don’t think the definitive baseball movie has yet been made) but they help top off the baseball rapture in my soul.
9. Box Scores: I love those little bastards. They say so much by saying so little. An entire game reduced to little rows of numbers about the size of a paragraph. Halladay: 9 IP – 2 H – O ER – 0 BB – 7 K’s. Just beautiful.
10. Playing Catch: Tossing the ball around, hitting fungoes, watching my kid rope a vicious line drive into the parking lot for a ground rule double. This is as good as it gets for a middle-aged American male.