Baseball is no easy game

May, 16, 2007
05/16/07
3:14
AM ET
I can't endorse Tim Kurkjian's new book -- not yet, at least -- because all I've read (so far) is the first chapter. And I don't make a habit of quoting material from ESPN.com, because I figure you're already here and so you've probably already seen it. But I want to make an exception here, because Tim's done such a great job of articulating something that I've struggled to articulate. From that first chapter

It is the best game because it's a romantic game. Our finest essayists write poetically about it, yet ultimately they're all wrong. In truth, it is a hard game played by hard men; the romance disappears when that ball is traveling at your face at an incomprehensible rate of speed. It is, without question, the hardest game in the world to play, yet it looks so easy on TV. It isn't. My wish is for everyone in America to get one at-bat in a major-league game against Randy Johnson, and to stand even with third base when Albert Pujols hits a rocket down the line. Then everyone would appreciate what I appreciate: the speed of the game and the danger involved. It is a game that requires tremendous skill, athleticism, and courage. It is golf, except with running, jumping, throwing, sliding, and an overwhelming fear of the ball. PGA Tour players are amazingly skilled and disciplined, but imagine hitting an eight-iron into a green with a baseball that's hard as a rock and coming at you at 95 mph, or, after finishing your swing, having to avoid a 225-pound man in metal spikes who is coming at your knees at full speed.

Yesterday was George Brett's birthday, which brings to mind his "Dirt Rule": The farther you get from the game on the field, the easier it looks. This is true in the other sports, but I suspect it's truer in baseball. If you've ever sat close to third base, or not far from home plate, you know what I mean. Which brings to mind an idea I had some years ago: Every fan who purchases season tickets in the upper deck should be allowed, once every season, to sit in the seats by the field. In the short term, this would cost the teams a few dollars. In the long term, they would more than make those dollars back. Because once you sit in those seats by the field, you're hooked for life.

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