Rate Watch #1301 – Baseball

April 12, 2021

By Dick Lepre

dicklepre@rpm-mtg.com

www.loanmine.com



 A recap of last week's fundamentals is here

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Baseball

This was first written about 15 years ago.

Baseball - A Universe Parallel to Life

I am a big baseball fan. I was born in The Bronx and was a kid at a time when the Yankees won 5 World Series in succession. They had excellent teams until I went off to college. (Not that I am suggesting any causal connection.)

When I was a kid, baseball was, essentially, the only sport that folks paid attention to. Baseball now shares a much larger stage with football, basketball, hockey and (despite it being well-disguised here in Northern California) NASCAR.

Why Baseball?

For me, baseball offers one compelling force. More so than any other sport, baseball resembles life. 

1) The majority of the time nothing is happening and when things happen they happen too quickly. 

2) small changes in what happens result in disproportionately large results in the outcome. A guy drops a routine fly ball and his team is eliminated from the playoffs. An umpire calls a marginal 2-1 pitch a ball and the situation is monumentally different with a 3-1 count than it is with a 2-2 count. In this manner, both baseball and life are unfair.

3) it has developed a "melting pot" aspect. This is a game played by whites, blacks, Latinos and Asians. 

4) Basketball players seem to average 6' 9". Football players weigh 280 pounds. Linemen weigh 340 pounds. Baseball players, for the most part, look like human beings. The only football players who look like the rest of us are defensive backs.

5) It mirrors some of the social problems in the rest of life - drugs for example. Little is said about the following: in 2003 baseball introduce steroid testing. . There were as many 50 home run seasons after the 1994-1995 strike as there were before 1993. The other statement that sounded almost comical came from TV announcers all season long. "Yeah, so-and-so really decided to lose weight in the off-season."

Baseball culture is more affected than other sports by the use of steroids because records are so much a part of baseball. It is impractical to divide records into "on steroids" and "not on steroids." 

6) Baseball has its winners. The fact that the Yankees used to win so often may be distressing to a fan of other teams but it makes the game much more interesting. In football there are no teams like the Yankees. The only other team in professional sports to have been like the Yankees is the Montreal Canadians who won 5 consecutive Stanley Cups.

Every time that I go to an A's game when they play the Yankees or the Red Sox there are a large, vocal number of fans there rooting for the visitors and it makes the game a heck of a lot more fun. In fact the Oakland Coliseum hosts the A's for baseball and the Raiders for football. The attitude which A's fans have related to the fans of the other teams is relatively cordial. The attitude which Raider fans have to those rooting for the opposition is something approaching felonious. 

7) Baseball has its lovable losers. With the Red Sox, White Sox and Giants have won the World Series in recent years the Chicago Cubs have the baton. As much as I might intellectually know that there is no such thing as a curse it was hard to watch the 1986 World Series (Mets-Red Sox, Bill Buckner) and not believe that paranormal forces were involved.

8) Size matters. Like much of the rest of life - money talks. The Yankees and Red Sox have a massive cash-flow from media, spend the money wisely and win. The Dodgers are on this program now. Money may be a necessary condition but it is not a sufficient condition. Ask the Texas Rangers.

9) Everybody has an opinion. Baseball is a wonderful sport for after-the-fact second guessing. Why was Pedro Martinez left in to blow game 7 of the LCS? Why was Marino Rivera in the bullpen rather than on the mound in game 4 of the World Series? Why did we invade Iraq? 

10) Baseball is for the middle-class. The tickets for other sports are so expensive. 

11) Baseball allows for dreaming and hoping. The faces of the fans say it all. Baseball unfolds at a pace to allow for hope, dreams, joy and anguish. Hockey, for example, happens so quickly that if you are at the game, half of the time you can't see who scored.

12) Baseball is about frustration. The best hitters fail 70% of the time. No one is a born baseball player. Basketball, yes. Baseball, no. Ask Michael Jordan. It requires and enormous number of hours of practice to become a professional baseball player. Annoyingly, life is often like that.

13) When baseball moves off the field and into other aspects of life it can still reveal the true nature of human greed and stupidity. On October 7, 2001, right here in San Francisco, Barry Bonds hit a baseball into the stands at Pac Bell Park breaking the single season home run record. The ball hit the mitt of Alex Popov but Patrick Hayashi wound up with it - for the time being. Rather than sell it and split the proceeds they decided to sue each other. It went to trial. The judge ordered the ball sold at auction and the proceeds split 50/50. The ball sold for $450,000. Alex got $225,000. His legal bill was $473,530.32. 

That drama could never have transpired over a hockey puck, a basketball or a football. 

14) Exogenous forces can greatly affect the outcome. A Chicago Cubs fan reaches for a foul ball coming right at him and becomes responsible for the continuation of the Cubs' history.

"Baseball is a ballet without music. Drama without words. A carnival without Kewpie dolls. Baseball is continuity. Pitch to pitch. Inning to inning. Season to season."
 -- Ernie Harwell (Harwell who died in 2010 was a longtime play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Tigers.)

 

Dick Lepre
 Senior Loan Advisor

 
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