Ryan: The unknown joy of baseball

Dan Ryan

After witnessing the women’s lacrosse team lose in heartbreaking fashion Saturday, I returned to my dorm room a little bummed. Although that loss was by no means crushing, it left most in attendance a little down. When the one good Northwestern team loses (no offense, women’s tennis squad), it’s a pretty sad day, even when the outcome is not all that important in the context of an NCAA title..

I came home after the game and cancelled all the things I had to do that day that might require some semblance of responsibility or discomfort (sorry about postponing that reconciliation dinner … you know who you are), plopped down on my bed and turned on the White Sox game.

My beloved team was playing the Seattle Mariners and I sat there, drink in hand, watching a completely irrelevant game while simultaneously dodging doing anything of substance.

Phil Humber was pitching. Phil Humber elicits a “meh” response from even the biggest Phil Humber fan alive. So really this game should have been utterly dull. And that’s when baseball decided to be baseball – Humber threw a perfect game.

Twenty-seven up, 27 down. Only the 21st time in MLB history. This put Humber in the same category with the likes of Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Cy Young and Roy Halladay. He was released by the Royals last year, for goodness sake – the Kansas City Royals.

Humber proved the excitement of the game transcends those playing it. Take the NU baseball squad for example. Now I know what you’re thinking, “We have a baseball team here? Are they good? No? Of course they aren’t.” Thing is, the game is no less wonderful. Sure they don’t have a winning record, but the game is still the same.

And that’s baseball. Really. It’s unexplainable. Indescribable. One hundred percent unique and, at the risk of sounding excessively corny, magical.

Now most people these days don’t agree. They go to Cubs games to get drunk and pee wherever they want, blissfully unaware that a professional sporting event is occurring in the background while silently wondering what a backwards K stands for. These people are the majority today. And these are the people missing out.

No other sport cleanses the soul like baseball. There have been books, movies and even New York University classes centered on baseball as a religion. Not just as an obsession, but a path to God. It’s an annual spiritual pilgrimage from April to September that forces you to invest yourself in something over which you have no control. You bond with the players. And yeah, they will never even know your name, but you’ll be damned if that’s stopped you from memorizing the walk-up routine of every batter on your favorite team since you started watching them as a kid.

Instant gratification is the name of the game today, which is something baseball can’t offer. Football and basketball can. They offer non-stop action and excitement. And don’t get me wrong, I love me some Larry Fitzgerald and D-Rose. But I don’t connect to them.

So for me, and I hope many others, it’ll have to be baseball. Nothing else soothes my soul and clears my mind like a breezy afternoon at the ballpark. It’s sublime. It’s perfect. It’s heaven.

Deputy sports editor Dan Ryan is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at [email protected]edu