By Jenny Rollins
BU News Service
When the Patriots made it to last winter’s Super Bowl, I watched the entire Super Bowl for the first time. When I learned that the Red Sox would be playing in the World Series, I decided to watch my very first World Series.
Then I realized that the World Series is actually approximately a million games. Baseball fans, evidently, are fiends who are vehemently against the perfectly reasonable schedule of playing one big game with funny commercials and a cool halftime show.
So, last night I watched the World Series for the first time. And by watching the World Series, I mean that I watched the fifth and final game of the World Series, because I’m a wimp.
I’ll be honest, I know almost nothing about baseball. In fact, everything that I know about baseball I learned from watching “The Sandlot.”
“The Sandlot” taught me that to some people, baseball is a game, and to others, baseball is life. To me, baseball is what people with super weird names play to be taken seriously (I’m looking at you, Dusty Baker).
I don’t hate baseball. In fact, some of my favorite people are reformed baseball players. Scott Patterson, for example, went on to play Luke Danes in “Gilmore Girls” after he stopped playing the game.
Unlike football, I have actually been to exactly two professional baseball games. This feels like a lot for someone who has swung a baseball bat maybe four or five times.
When I moved to Boston last year, I went to a Red Sox game, and I was sold. Fenway is like baseball Disneyland. There’s food everywhere, everyone is deliriously happy (and drunk), and you can feel like you belong even if you have absolutely no clue what you’re watching.
I didn’t even mind that it was freezing and that the man behind me decided to create a small Bud Light pool in the hood of my jacket until he got busted for smoking weed in the stadium.
I even heckled the Yankees fan in front of us, probably saying something like, “Oh yeah, well our guys can swing and catch better than your guys.” You know, like a true baseball savant.
So, I decided that I was going to be a Red Sox fan. I bought a hat from Target that I have worn for about 15 minutes at a time. And I even kept up with the World Series enough to learn that “Do Damage” was not the name of the new “Wreck-It Ralph” movie.
I showed up to my friend’s apartment with my cap on, sat down and realized two things: I did not know the name of a single Red Sox player, and I had never actually watched a baseball game from the first pitch to the last on TV.
The first inning was pretty exciting, from what I gathered by the cheers of my friend when I was calmly trying to explain to him that “Mookie Betts” sounded more like a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor than a real person. (Can’t you see a cookie bits flavor called Mookie Betts? You’re welcome, marketing team.)
I started paying more attention to the screen to see both the Red Sox and the Dodgers hit home runs, which was all very exciting. But honestly, there were so many things that fascinated me more.
For instance, the wide array of facial hair. There was one Dodgers player named Turner, who had a glorious ginger monstrosity of a beard. There were chin straps, mustaches and weird beard/soul patch combos.
Then there’s the fact that catchers squat for such long periods of time. How on earth do they hold that position for so long? I’m convinced they’re all cyborgs.
And while I was thinking about all that, four innings passed.
With all of the close-ups on the players and managers, I discovered the ultimate secret of baseball.
Baseball is honestly just a giant spitting contest masked as a sport.
Hear me out. I saw David Price throwing the ball close to 100 miles per hour over and over and over again. I saw the magical catch that Benintendi made earlier in the World Series. These guys are talented. I’m not denying that. I’m just saying that they’re multi-faceted.
Every single time that the camera zoomed in on anyone, no matter who they were, they would chew aggressively and spit. Not having grown up around baseball, I was grotesquely fascinated. I turned to look at the guys to the left and right of me. They did not react, even to the most blatant drooling. Was I the only one who noticed this?
There was the lightning-quick chew-spit combo, the perfect sphere spittle, the multi-seed spritz, the messier drool dribble and, my favorite, the digging-something-out-of-your-mouth-with-your-whole-hand technique employed near the end of the game.
The last one was the only one to get a reaction from my friends. One of them said that spitting was an important cultural part of baseball, like scratching.
He told me he could totally see a coach going up to a player and saying, “Hey, I’m sorry, I like the way that you’re pitching, but you’re not scratching nearly enough.”
Then my other friend Ian kindly suggested that I would probably have a better time if I stopped focusing on the spit and started focusing on the game.
So I watched the Red Sox be awesome and even managed to cheer and gasp in the right spots (sometimes). I clapped along with the crowd and felt sports savvy until I realized I was accidentally cheering for the other team.
The two highlights of the game for me were the cameo by Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon continuing their hilarious feud by wearing “I’m with stupid” shirts and my friend’s roommate bringing out chocolate chip cookies.
To be honest, I am not used to supporting winning sports teams. I went to my high school sports teams to support the marching band, partially because I’m a giant dork and partially because our band was something our sports teams weren’t: actually good.
One year, our high school football team played the worst team in the district for our homecoming game so we could actually win. We lost without scoring a single point.
So, when it became pretty obvious that the Red Sox were going to win the World Series, I didn’t know how to react. Obviously, to celebrate I ate another chocolate chip cookie. But then what?
When the last ball was thrown and we won, I made a tiny whoop and did a microscopic fist pump. My friend yelled briefly. That was basically it.
Then I realized that I didn’t have to watch any more baseball and actually cheered.
While the Red Sox catcher jumped on the pitcher in an almost exact reenactment of the way every contestant jumped on Arie in the last season of the Bachelor, and drunk sports fans flooded Boston Common, we packed up and went home, calmly discussing the weather.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Boston University News Service.