Nov 6, 2014

Knowing Your Straight Friends #3: Baseball

Baseball may be the only third most important sport in the Straight Guy pantheon, but it's still more important than hockey, golf, tennis, wrestling, boxing, track and field, and gymnastics.  Besides, it's the only sport for Straight Guys to talk about when football and basketball season is over, roughly April to August.

And it's got a lot of sexual symbolism.  We used to classify sexual activity by running bases; hitting a home run was heterosexual intercourse.

Baseball bats are obvious phallic symbols.

And gay guys are still asked if they're a pitcher or a catcher, that is, a top or a bottom.

When Yuri was dating a baseball player in Florida, he was asked that every five minutes, by people who thought they were being very funny.

Baseball is played outdoors, on a diamond-shaped field.  The "pitcher," on the opposing team will throw a small round projectile at you.  Your job is to hit it with a bat, far enough so you can run around the diamond, touching three bases, before anyone on the other team can retrieve the projectile and touch you with it.

The main quality for success in baseball is hand-eye coordination, not height or strength, so all physical types can play.  Even little kids are often co-opted into Little League.

Major League Baseball teams are divided, like football and basketball, into two groups, the American League and the National League.  Each league is divided into three divisions, East, Central, and West.  The same city may have teams from two leagues, as in the New York Yankees and the New York Mets.

But don't worry, you just have to know "your team," usually the team in the city closest to you.  When I was growing up in Rock Island, most people belonged to the Chicago Cubs (3 hours away), though a few belonged to the St. Louis Cardinals (6 hours away).

Baseball season typically lasts for six months, from April to October.  Your team will play a whopping 162 games, five nights a week plus an occasional afternoon game, pairing off against every team in the league at least once.

At the end of October, the top teams in the football and basketball leagues play each other once to determine the championship, but in baseball, they play each other seven times  in a week-long festive occasion called the World Series.

The last few teams to win the World Series are: the San Francisco Giants, The Boston Red Sox, the Giants, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

Since nearly anyone can play baseball, there is a bewildering variety of minor leagues, semi-pro leagues, local teams, youth teams -- you name it.

Whenever Straight Guys can't get out to watch their pro team play, they'll make do with some of these local and regional games.  So just ask "How did the Moondogs do last night?" and be prepared to talked into a stupor.

See also: A Naked Baseball Player in the Kitchen.