16 February 2008

Pitchers & Catchers!

It's a great weekend in Wisconsin sports. The Badger men's basketball team overcame a sluggish start to beat Minnesota this afternoon (consider watching the next game at the west-side Rocky's; the big screen room there is awesome), Marquette routed Pitt last night...and the Brewers' pitchers and catchers reported for spring training!

Let me apologize now--you're probably going to hear a lot about baseball on this blog. I love baseball. Before we moved to Wisconsin, I lived in Bradenton, Florida, which is where the Pittsburgh Pirates spring train. I used to listen to games on the radio when I went to bed, including (occasionally) the dreaded West Coast games, which are tough on a first-grader living in EST. I once dragged my dad to a Sarasota White Sox minor league (A) game the night that we'd arrived back from some trip from New York, after spending the entire day in the car. I went to seven straight opening days at Milwaukee County Stadium. Moneyball is one of my favorite books. I keep score at games. A League of Their Own is one of my favorite movies. I think I watched or listened to significant portions of at least 100 of the Brewers' 162 games last year, possibly quite a few more. The dates of the three televised Brewers spring training games this season are already marked in my calendar. I still talk about the 2004 game where Matt, Greg, and I saw Ben Sheets pitch 18 strikeouts.

You might know that, at any given time, I'm working on a grab bag of informal theses about (usually inconsequential) subjects. For instance, I'll probably share with you soon my Alison Krauss thesis, which I've been working on since I saw her at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival last summer (don't worry, I brought my radio so I could monitor the status of the Brewers' doubleheader at St. Louis that day). Well, I've got a lot of baseball theses. There's the "why baseball is more exciting than other sports" thesis, the "why baseball strategy is less immediately obvious than in the other major sports" thesis...you get the idea. I'll probably share a couple of them as time goes on. For now, I mostly wanted to just put up a celebratory post marking this glorious day.

But I also wanted to say thank you to. You see, I spent most of last July and August studying for qualifying exams, usually about 40 hours per week. The quals are pretty tough in my deparment, and you only get two chances to pass. And I was afraid I'd want to drop out if I didn't pass the first time. So I studied nuclear engineering, fluid mechanics and heat transfer, and modern physics for two months. And I listened to Brewers games. Seriously, that's pretty much it. Looking forward to a baseball game was what got me through some of those days. And even though we didn't quite make the playoffs (I was at the game where the Padres eliminated us), I'm so grateful for the pennant race that saved my sanity during my qual summer.

If you'd like to get your baseball excitement juices flowing (or if you'd like some evidence that the one-on-one, pitcher-to-hitter nature of baseball creates storylines way more compelling than anything, say, football can muster), check out this article my baseball-loving friend Matt came across. Most intriguing at-bat, indeed.

Let's play ball.

1 comment:

FrGaryB said...

Hey Kyle:

Just a quick note to say that I responded to your post over at "Tosa Rector"...and that even though I can't keep up with all the engineering stuff...I look forward to seeing how we can tie Theology, Baseball, and Alison Kraus into a seamless dialogue on the meaning of life.

P.S.: Have you heard Alison with Robert Plant on "Raising Sand"?