Balls, Horses, and Math: Summer Sports are a Whole New Ballgame

It’s over. No more bouncing balls, no more penetrations to the rim. College basketball and all its innuendos are nothing but dusty relics of an innocent time long since past. Well, until November. But if you come closer, I’ll reveal the winners of the bracket challenge and give y’all some things to look forward to this summer.

So first things first. Congratulations Tart.! I know having your piece picked up by Ms. was pretty cool, but I bet it can’t compare to winning the bracket challenge! Your daring method of picking teams based on their alumni and/or logos won you the day.  Amelia M., you are the least-winner or the invert-winner or the smallest-winner, or however you want to say it. Still! You had the grit to pick and for that we salute you.  If you’d put a message in my tumblr-ask-box with your contact info, I’ll have your prizes on their way at the end of the week.

Now, onto other business. With college basketball being done and the lazy days of summer staring us down until we become so many proverbial deer in the metaphorical headlights, how are we to fill our time, sate our gambling desires, or make small talk at the water cooler? Fortunately, even though my favorite sports are all wrapped up, plenty of options remain for not-fans, casual fans, and intense fans.

1. NBA:

What it is: More basketball! This time, men play basketball for large sums of money instead of for school glory, future career prospects, or slightly smaller sums of money (college sports can be wildly corrupt ““ it’s delicious in its excess and saddening in its potential exploitation of student athletes).

Why we watch it: Well, the score is high, so that’s fun. Also, the dunks, incredible lay-ups, and wild baskets make the NBA a rollicking good time. If you’re there in person, sometimes someone will shoot a t-shirt out of a cannon right at your face.

How to make it an event:  The play-offs are coming up, which means the opportunity for parties, eight types of dip, and a lot of friendly wagering. Since I am broke, I bet with currency like chocolate bars or falafel, but to each their own. Invite people over or go to a sports bar, throw back a few beverages of your choice and some onion rings, and you’ve got yourself a day.

2. MLB:

What it is: Baseball. It is definitely baseball. Just in case you didn’t catch that opening weekend was this past week, baseball season is upon us. Watch men in tight trousers hurtle themselves across dirt, grass, and sometimes mud.

Why we watch it: Some enjoy the men in tight trousers. Others are drawn to the mathematical nature of baseball ““ no other sport relishes its statistics like this one. While I don’t fall into the “baseball is the most cerebral sport” camp, I do find the endless fascination with quantifying every aspect of a player’s and team’s performance absolutely awe-inspiring.

How to make it social: Baseball might be the most social of the sports because it takes place both outside and in the summer. The two make for an excellent combination. Go to an evening game with some pals, and even if you don’t love baseball, enjoy the outdoors, the scenic views, and the large mugs of watered-down beer. It’s lovely.

3. The Kentucky Derby.

What it is: Horses with extravagant names running for 1.25 miles. It’s the fastest two minutes in sport. It’s like baseball in that it is a good excuse to go outside and get rowdy. It’s not like baseball in that the parties, hats, and drinks overshadow the actual sporting event. Also, baseball has 0 horses.

Why we watch it: Indoctrination. No, really. I am from Kentucky, and there, the Kentucky Derby is sort of a big deal. In middle school, we’d make bets in class on the horses and the teacher would give chocolate to the student who picked the winning horse. I suppose there are other reasons to watch it (hats, the pretty horses, the desire to go to Louisville and bathe in Maker’s Mark), but none that I can think of that have to do with sport.

How to make it social: Hm, well, gambling is an option again. Or you could have a hat party where everyone wears the worst hats they can find. Or you could tie G.I. Joes onto cats and see which cat runs across the room first. Please note that in this last scenario, time should keep running as the cat naps and bats are imaginary bugs.

18 replies on “Balls, Horses, and Math: Summer Sports are a Whole New Ballgame”

I’m a little late to the game, but I would also add: NHL playoffs! From next week until June there will be night after night of sweaty men speeding around on skates knocking each other into the walls, making spectacular saves, and possibly bloodying the ice in the pursuit of Lord Stanley’s Cup. And did I mention they’re FAST?

Although as a die-hard Blackhawks fan, it’s looking like
I may be in mourning for the first round of playoffs if we don’t get our act together for our last three games.

I actually live in the city, and the whole week or so after the Blackhawks won was just AMAZING. I couldn’t take off work for the parade (because I’d called in sick the day before, due to being out all night after they won…) so I only caught a glimpse of it on my lunch break, but it was incredible.

I used to live in San Diego and I loved to go watch the Padres play- especially after they built the new stadium. It’s more for the atmosphere than the game, although I like them both.

Maybe it’s time to look up my local minor league team. :)

That’s a great idea! I have some good memories from my hometown’s minor league team – you get to sit so close so you get a totally different perspective on the game.

Those teams always have the best names, too. I like the Hickory Crawdads and the Savannah Sand Gnats and the Montgomery Biscuits, I mean, when it comes to names.

I used to play some tennis (I had written “I used to play tennis” but then I felt like it was exaggerating my skill and level), but I don’t follow it. What gets you excited about following tennis? Are there certain match ups you like to see? What drew you in to the sport?

Baseball and basketball are BIG in my boyfriend’s family. I come from a non-sports-watching, non-giving-a-shit family, so in an effort to make him happy I decided that my gift for him after two years will be making an effort to learn about/get into baseball. We watched the Jays’ home opener on TV (OMG what a massacre, we killed the Twins) and are going to see Jays vs Rays for our anniversary in two weeks!

He’s also playing softball this summer in a social hometown league so I want to be able to understand when and why to cheer for him. My family is super cynical about it but I’m kind of excited!

That sounds like a great gift!

I do not know the rules of softball except that they differ to some extent from baseball. Is there a more knowledgeable person around who can distinguish the two better?

Anyway, it’d be really silly if you cheered for something bad – it sounds almost, I mean, exactly like something I would do.

Basebaaaaaall! Yay.

Go to an evening game with some pals, and even if you don’t love baseball, enjoy the outdoors, the scenic views, and the large mugs of watered-down beer. It’s lovely.
The Mister does not like baseball at all, but I have successfully taken him to games on a number of occasions, and he enjoys the grass and the nice weather and whatnot. It’s certainly a sport where you can have a conversation while watching the game without too much trouble, if you were so inclined!

I have some friends who love and understand baseball, and they do not mind chatting during the game, so they explain things to me and we talk and I repay them with soft pretzels. It makes the games more fun, because unlike a movie where talking can ruin the experience, talking about the game or about whatever can make the evening that much more enjoyable.

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