Author: Nancy Chovancek

Baseball Rituals


I should know enough about baseball rituals. I mean, my son has been playing baseball since he was in diapers.

I’m totally serious when I say that: He received a T-ball set for his second birthday–you couldn’t get the kid away from it. He kept wanting to bat lefty, so I let it go. It turned out to be to his advantage later on when he played during his high school years. Not only did he bat left handed but he also pitched left handed which threw off the batters.

I was watching a baseball game on ESPN the other night: Cardinals vs. Brewers. Next to the Cubs, I love to watch the Brewers play, and it’s not because of their athletic prowess. I am obsessed with the sausage races during the 7th inning stretch.

I want to be in a sausage costume so bad, I can taste it; just like a juicy bratwurst with mustard and onions. I sausageracescan’t run; maybe you don’t know this (or maybe you do).  Having me run wearing a sausage costume would be even more hilarious; perhaps even traumatic to some as I would undoubtedly fall at least a dozen times as I would awkwardly round the bases.

The reason for my sausage running obsession is singular: I want to make my husband pee his pants from laughter. You’re probably thinking, what sort of crazy bitch is she? Why would she want to run around a baseball diamond wearing a sausage costume when she most certainly can’t even run normally? More disturbing–why does she want to make her husband pee his pants?

It’s purely for the fun of it. I don’t mind making a fool out of myself–I want to do it to make my family laugh. I want to do it to make my husband pee his pants. How do you get into a sausage costume anyway? Can someone tell me? I am being totally serious. Give me a website, phone number or whatever I need to do in order to make this happen.

Anyway, as we were watching the ball game I started asking questions as usual. I’m no stranger to baseball and the odd rituals that players act out before they make contact with the ball.  These rituals seem to start at a young age and get progressively worse as they get older. I’m beginning to think some of these players have OCD.

baseballplayerritualsLet’s discuss the batters. They step into the batter’s box, take a few swings and then step out. They adjust their helmets, take a few swings with the bat (they’re warming up), adjust the sleeves of their shirts; more particularly the shoulder area. This makes me think that baseball player uniforms should be sleeveless. I mean, ALL players do this. If the sleeves bother you that much, cut ‘em off, or maybe the higher ups can make a mental note of the fact that going sleeveless from here on out would be not only more efficient, but would surely cause a ruckus with the media. I vote for sleeveless, but maybe some players won’t like that because it will show their armpit hair. This is where manscaping comes in. This subject a whole other blog post.

Some players make the sign of the cross on their chest, fake kiss the sky to thank the heavenly God above, asking for a huge hit while all the bases are loaded at the bottom of the ninth inning. Lastly, some will kiss their bat or even lick it. WTF?

He swings. He gets a strike.

He steps out of the batters box. This time, baseball gloves are the object of affection.  He loosens the velcro straps on his wrists and puts them back into place. He adjusts his crotch area and does another stretch–this time with the baseball bat held firmly in both hands and pressing it behind his back.

He steps back into the batters box.

He swings. It’s a foul ball into the right field stands. Some old guy tries to catch it, but he ducks at the last minute. This is smart on his part, because I’m certain that if he hadn’t made this last minute duck, an aneurysm, cracked skull or black eye was going to seal his fate.

I’ve seen some baseball players sing to themselves before they go to bat. This isn’t good. If you sing while playing baseball, you won’t get a good pitch.

Think about it. I’ll wait for your eye-ball rolling and “Really?” comments.

The whole batter’s box ritual can take one batter up to five minutes to actually get through his turn at bat. Can we just step it up a bit? Going sleeveless with the uniforms will help speed up the time. However, I really think this is the reason why baseball games take so damn long. It’s the batter’s fault. Men complain that women take too long to get ready when they go out to dinner or to a monster truck show. But, when you compare a women’s readiness quotient to a baseball player who is up to bat, the game is tied and you’re going into extra innings.

I’ve never seen a baseball player rub a rabbits foot, but perhaps that ritual happens in the locker room. Maybe they rub other things as well.

I don’t want to know.

The players in the outfield have other minor rituals, but it’s mostly the batters who have the compulsion to adjust everything on their bodies before they actually swing the damn bat. I know that it’s sometimes intentional; buying time from the pitcher. But the pitcher is patient like a lioness waiting to attack. He adjusts his hat, shakes off the catcher, ties his shoes, digs into the mound with his cleats and makes idle chit-chat while waiting for the pretty-boy batter to ready himself for a swing.

Yawn.

Aside from the rituals of the baseball player, I do see some dangers at the ball park.  One of them is obviously safety. If you’re hoping to catch a fly ball, please don’t have your 86 year old grandpa catch it for you. Don’t have your three year old son catch it for you either. Both situations will send you to the emergency room or morgue.  Always bring a baseball mitt, or buy a large container of popcorn like this guy:

The other hazard is catching you in a bold faced lie. You call in sick to work. You tell your wife you have a meeting that came up at the last minute, yada, yada, yada.  Did you forget there could be a remote possibility of your face being seen on national television? Your boss and/or wife happens to see you catch that fly ball. Or, you’re dancing like Elaine Benes from Seinfeld in the stands in between innings:

Yeah. That would be me.

Or, you’re shoving a plate full of nachos into your mouth and the camera happens to catch your eating habits. You do a fist pump and high five your buddy while you spill your $10 beer because the Cubbies got a home run (anytime the Cubs get a home run, it calls for a high five).

You’re on the jumbo screen at the park. It’s your fifteen minutes of fame.

It also turns into fifteen minutes of the worst mistake you will ever make in your life because you’ve missed work three times this month.

Aaaaaaaand, YOU’RE OUT!

Of course, your wife only needs to say one word. “STRIIIIIIIKE!”

I suppose baseball wouldn’t be the legendary game it is without rituals. Some fans have certain rituals they just have to do. This isn’t restricted to just baseball either:

You get my point.

 

 

 

 

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