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Basketball, ice hockey and rugby are all very hot. Why is baseball the only American national sport?
Why is it that MLB, which seems to have a slow pace, is deeply loved by American audiences today?
Behind this series of questions, Chen Shengyin, a columnist of the ecological circle and a senior reporter of five-star sports, brought us a story about American baseball culture and told us about the greatness of baseball.
Column | Chen Shengyin
Chen Shengyin, a columnist of Ecosphere, is a senior reporter of five-star sports. He started his career in 2002, and has reported many top-level events such as European Cup, Asian Games, NFL Super Bowl, NBA Finals and MLB World Series.
What is baseball culture like? Start with this story
Brother Quan invited me to tell you about American baseball culture. So, let’s start with the story of an 8-year-old girl.
Hailey Dawson was born in Henderson, Nevada in 2010. Xiao Haili is an unfortunate girl. She was born.Suffer fromPollan syndrome. PollanSyndromeIt is one of the most difficult diseases in the medical field at present. Up to now, its cause is still unclear. The main symptom is deformity of breast, chest wall and upper limbs. Xiao Haili lost three fingers in her right hand from the moment she was born, and the only thumb and little finger left were not fully developed.
Thanks to modern technology, with the help of engineering experts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), Xiao Haili finally got her own right hand at the age of 5! Experts finally made a new type of prosthesis by using 3D printing technology. This 3D prosthesis, which has been precisely printed and made, is more perfect than traditional products. Xiao Haili wears it not as a decoration, but as a normal person.
When she first started training artificial limbs, Xiao Haili’s parents let her throw baseball. There are two reasons: first, baseball pitching can have a good training for the accuracy, strength and control of opponents, and second, because of the influence of Xiao Haili’s father Greg. Greg Dawson is from Maryland. The love of his life is not only his family, but also his hometown team Baltimore Orioles. In a subtle way, the whole Dawson family has now become an Orioles fan. Xiao Haili and her brother Zach usually like watching and playing baseball.
In the garden at home, when Xiao Haili threw the ball hard with her "mechanical right hand", Greg later recalled, "Yes, we all cried the moment the ball fell into my glove."
"Mom, I still want to pitch in Orioles Park!" That night, Xiao Haili made a wish before going to bed. At that time, she probably didn’t even think of it. In the next three years, she not only fulfilled this wish, but also created history.
Xiao Haili’s mother sent an email to the Baltimore Orioles, and she got a quick response. On August 17, 2015, she flew as far as Sleepless in Seattle, and the Dawsons came to the Orioles Park Stadium. Before the start of the game that day, more than 30,000 fans of the whole audience drummed together.ZhangjiaOil, Xiao Haili walked onto the pitcher’s hill and threw the first ball for the Orioles.
Because the 3D printed prosthesis is assembled from more than 30 parts and can be replaced at will, Xiao Haili changed all her "manipulator" into orange (oriole logo color) on that day. After the game that day, the reporter asked Xiao Haili, "What do you want to do next?" Xiao Haili replied timidly, "I want to be able to pitch at all courts."
From that day on, for three years and 30 days, on September 16th, 2018, when Xiao Haili threw the first ball of the competition in los angeles angels Stadium, history was written as follows: she became the first person on the planet to complete the kick-off ceremony in 30 MLB30 stadiums.
Derek kittel, the legendary captain of the new york Yankees and now the owner of Miami Marlins, blessed Little Haili: "Today, you are our angel, and you have inspired everyone, including me."
Sports bring us too much positive energy like Xiao Haili, but as far as Xiao Haili’s story is concerned, only baseball can write a script like her. Because in the United States, even though American football is the largest sport and basketball is the best in globalization, baseball will always be the first carrier of the American dream spirit.
Baseball is an important part of American culture-no, this statement is not accurate. It should be said that baseball has been completely integrated into American culture and into all aspects of Americans.
FIRST PITCH, the beginning of everything
From a fan’s point of view, there are many ways to let her participate in professional competitions in person. But in the United States, there is no way to go beyond the kick-off. There are KICK-OFF in American football, TIP-OFF in basketball and FIRST-PUCK in ice hockey, all of which are the signs of the official start of the game.
But none of them can match FIRST PITCH.
In fact, it is not difficult for fans who know the four major sports to imagine that American football, basketball and ice hockey are all coherent sports. If someone outside the game participates in the opening ceremony of the above games, the game can only be separated. Baseball, which is relatively static, will not have this problem. Although FIRST PITCH has nothing to do with the official game, fans prefer to regard this sacred ceremony as a signal to tell everyone that the game has started!
For Americans, especially in the northeast, this signal can even be regarded as the beginning of a year. Among the four major leagues, only baseball is a single-year event, and the season usually starts from the end of March to the beginning of April.
At this time, the northern cities are generally just in the spring. For Americans, on the Opening Day of MLB, the stadium is full of green eyes and the smell of soil in the nose. With the first ball thrown, this not only means the beginning of the baseball season, but also means: spring is here! The new year has really begun!
Of course, the kick-off ceremony can have such a high status in the minds of fans today, and thanks to Ronald Reagan, the most people-friendly president in American history. Before him, the guests who kicked off the ball were usually arranged in the first row of the stands behind home plate, and then stood up in their seats and threw the first ball. On the opening day of MLB in 1984, Mr. Reagan, then president of the United States, appeared at the Memorial Stadium, the home of Baltimore Orioles, without informing anyone.
Reagan’s excitement made the security guards at the scene have a headache. Because there was no preparation at home, Reagan’s seat was finally above the third base. This position is obviously not suitable for tee-off, and the action is relatively large when tee-off, and the surrounding environment looks unsafe. But since the president has arrived at the scene and it is the opening day, it is really unreasonable not to come to FIRST PITCH.
Finally, Reagan gave the solution. He finally walked onto the pitcher’s hill and threw the first ball of the 1984 season-at that moment, everyone found that the kick-off looked more integrated with the game in this position. Since then, the FIRST PITCH on the pitcher’s mound has formed a new practice.
The most symbolic of FIRST PITCH is undoubtedly October 30, 2001. New york Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks played against each other in the World Series. In the third game, George W. Bush came to the scene. The significance of this game is that it is the first game of the highest level baseball decisive battle in new york City after the "911" incident. When George W. Bush threw the first ball in NYPD uniform, the whole Yankee Stadium stands shouted "U-S-A". All American media admit that only baseball can unite the whole of new york, no, the whole of America.
But this time FIRST PITCH has a lot of interesting tidbits.
After all, FIRST PITCH is a ceremony. Usually, the pitching guests are not professional players, so they will pitch at the front of the mound, but George W. Bush stood at the standard position of the pitching line that night and sent the pitch. For this reason, ESPN also specially produced a small feature, starting from Reagan, comparing the pitching actions of presidents, and Bush was indeed the best pitcher-after all, he used to be the owner of the MLB team Texas Rangers.
Despite his high level, Bush was criticized that night. After the aftermath of the terrorist incident, his preparations for this FIRST PITCH were a bit overdone. Except that the security in the stadium was upgraded to the highest level that day, NYPD’s coat was actually wearing a thick bulletproof vest, so it looked particularly bloated. In order to show his courage, Bush walked on the court alone, but in fact, a bodyguard followed him all the time, but no one noticed-because the bodyguard was wearing a referee’s uniform.
So this time FIRST PITCH is still quite controversial: no one wants this pitch, which represents American strength and unity, to be so timid.
Because FIRST PITCH is sacred and pure for Americans. As Hailey Dawson brought us: Every time I throw a ball, she tells the world that I don’t bow to fate, and my life really begins!
Baseball, everyone’s sport.
The inspiring thing about Xiao Haili is that she overcame physical obstacles and achieved the same things as ordinary people.
This is the hope that baseball has always brought. For Americans, the biggest special feature of baseball is that everyone, even if you have nothing special, can make achievements in baseball.
Needless to say, ice hockey is a sport that mainly belongs to its neighbors in the north and further north, even in the United States.
American football, which is "the sport of the strongest person in the world", must reach the peak of human beings in strength and speed in order to stand out from it.
Basketball, height is an insurmountable topic. Even if small ball tactics are popular nowadays, you should at least have a height of 1.8 meters-well, the average height of adult men in the United States today is 1.76 meters.
But baseball is different. Just like the United States as a melting pot of the world, this sport can accommodate everyone.
First of all, it doesn’t care about your physical fitness. You can have no speed, so practice your own blows and bring points to the team; You can have no strength, so improve your hitting accuracy and make yourself a guy with a high base rate; You may lack batting talent, but you may have a good sense of the ball and be an excellent defender …
In short, as long as you look for your talents and work hard to improve them, you will eventually be useful in baseball games. In 2008, when Dustin-Pedro, a second baseman with 75,80 kilograms of 1 meter, won the American League MVP, ESPN famous baseball commentator Buster Olney once pointed out in his column:
"When you watch a major league game, basically, you can always find a guy in the game who is very similar to you. You can’t be Kobe Bryant or Tom Brady, but you can see yourself in Pedro. He is too ordinary, not tall or strong. His parents run a tire shop in a small town in northern California. He was born there and grew up leisurely. As a child, Pedro played American football and baseball, as well as tennis. He kept practicing his hitting, and he didn’t strike out once for a whole season in high school. Then he was selected by the Red Sox and improved himself in the minor league until today. "
Baseball gives every boy the possibility to realize his heroic dream. Today, the tolerance of baseball is not only for Americans, but also for every immigrant. In American history, baseball has taken the most important step towards racial integration. Whenever you mention Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, there is another name you can’t forget.
Jackie Robinson, a black boy from southern Georgia, signed a contract with Brooklyn Dodge (now Los Angeles Dodge) in 1947. When he made his major league debut on April 15 that year, it also represented that the colored barrier of baseball for more than 60 years was broken in one fell swoop.
At that time, even in Dodge’s locker room, there was racial discrimination, but the great Jackie was very calm: "I don’t care whether you like me or not. All I need is that you must give me respect for human beings."
Today, the whole MLB has also given Jackie Robinson the highest praise: in 2004, his number retired in the whole league, which of course does not mean that No.42 disappeared on the court. On April 15th every year, the day Jackie first stepped onto the major league stage, every player will wear number 42 in all the games that day. This day is Jackie Robinson Day. On this day every year, you will find that Jackie’s influence is not only in baseball.
Nowadays, on April 15th every year, on social networks, from Obama to JAY-Z to Jamie Foxx to LeBron, almost everyone pays tribute to this baseball player-without his efforts to break down barriers, the status of ethnic minorities in American society may not exist today. It is this step taken in the most traditional baseball game in the United States that the black civil rights movement has reached a new level.
Fifty years after Jackie Robinson entered MLB, a young man from Panama appeared. When he first arrived in new york at the age of 21, he didn’t even speak a word of English, but he clearly knew Jackie’s story.
So he also chose No.42, hoping to realize the same dream as his predecessors in this strange land. Later, this young Panamanian, Mariano Rivera, became the greatest finisher in history.
Rivera is Jackie Robinson of this era and the epitome of all Latin American descendants. In his 19-year career, he ended the game 652 times. Every American knows: "When Mariano walks onto the mound, it means the end of the game."
In 2004, the league retired No.42 as a whole, but it still made an opening: players who were still wearing No.42 jerseys at that time could keep their numbers. As a result, Rivera became the last player in the major leagues to use number 42. It is also gratifying that this number with special significance to baseball can have such a great ending.
Like Rivera, whether in Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Venezuela … or Cuba, many people rely on baseball to gain recognition and finally gain a foothold in the United States. On the opening day of the 2018 season, 236 of the 877 players from 30 teams were born in Latin America, accounting for 27% of the total.
Alex Cora, the coach of this year’s World Series champion Boston Red Sox, is a Puerto Rican. In order to appreciate his great contribution and achievements this season, the Red Sox specially let Cora return to his hometown of Caguas with the World Series championship trophy in these days.
Champion, waiting for every city
As a Baltimore Orioles fan, when Xiao Haili was asked what her next wish was, she replied, "I hope the Orioles can win the championship, so my father will be very happy."
Indeed, after the great success from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, the Baltimore Orioles have not won the World Series for 35 years. Among the four major American leagues, MLB is probably the most difficult to win the championship.
The scarcity of playoff places and the changeable sports characteristics have led to the tragedy of many teams with a long tradition and a long history. Only in this background, the persistence of the fans is even more valuable. In many cities in the United States, it is the greatest wish of fans to live to see the baseball team in their region reach the top. We only look at the history of this century:
In 2002, Anaheim (now renamed Los Angeles) Angels won the championship. In 1994, Disney made a film "Angels in the Outfield".
The story tells a little boy named Roger. He lives in a single-parent family, his father is a truck driver, and he has to run long distances. Roger hoped that his father could spend more time with him, but the answer he waited for was: "Let’s wait until the Angels win the World Series."
Yes, it is precisely because the Angels are a traditional bad team in the history, so this sentence in the film represents: This is simply impossible.
In the film, the real angel came in Roger’s prayer, and he helped the angels win the championship miraculously. Two years after the film was released, Disney bought the Angel Team, and finally, 42 years after the Angel Team was founded, the fairy tale became a reality.
Incidentally, baseball and Hollywood are inextricably linked. Every year, the official documentary of MLB World Series will invite famous artists as narrators. In 1989, Matt Damon and his good friend Ben Affleck first appeared together in the movie Neverland, when they played baseball fans in Fenway Park. In 2007 and 2013, when the Red Sox won the championship, they were proud of being the narrators of the official documentaries in those two years.
In 2005, the Chicago White Sox not only won the championship, but also completed an 88-year persistence. In 1919, eight players of the Chicago White Sox were suspended for allegedly taking bribes and deliberately losing the game, so the White Sox were satirized by the world as "black socks" and never recovered. It was not until the championship in 2005 that the whole team was really proud.
In 2008, Philadelphia won MLB, and won it again after 38 years. Because of the team name, Philadelphia people can also beat the 76 ers, eagles and trapezes in the whole city and become a symbol of the city. The "P" in their team emblem tells the world: I am from Philadelphia-you will find that Iverson’s favorite hat is Philadelphia, indicating his identity as a "son of Philadelphia".
In 2010, the San Francisco Giants made the whole Bay Area proud. Giants were originally in new york, and moved to the west in 1957, which was their first championship since they came to San Francisco!
In 2015, Kansas City Royal showed the world what a "diaosi counterattack" was. As a small market team, Royal is really struggling in the professional league. In 1985, they won the world series championship, but from 1986 to 2013, they didn’t make the playoffs for 28 years. The champion after 30 years makes this city completely crazy.
In 2017, it was the turn of the Houston astronauts. Four years ago, they were still a bad team that lost 111 games and lost 100+ in the regular season for three consecutive seasons. This professional team with the longest history in Houston has finally tasted the championship for the first time after its 56th season.
Of course, all of the above are inferior to the Boston Red Sox breaking the "curse of the baby" in 2004. The Red Sox staged the greatest reversal in the history of American professional sports when they were 3-0 behind their arch-rival Yankees in the American League final, and finally ended the 86-year wait for the championship in the whole "Red Sox country".
But to say that the most touching thing for fans in this century is the 2016 World Series. The two teams that fought on the highest stage that year-Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians-have been together for 174 years (107 years for Cubs and 67 years for Indians).
After seven battles, the bear finally ended the "goat curse". On the night of winning the championship, many Chicagoans put a broadcast in the cemetery to let their deceased relatives witness the moment they have been looking forward to all their lives.
The joy of the bear’s championship marks that people in Cleveland will continue to wait. Although LeBron has comforted the city, I’m afraid it will be until the Indians win the championship.
So 35 years in Baltimore is really not too long, but it may be far more difficult for the Orioles to wait for the next championship than for Xiao Haili to finish pitching on 30 courses.
Ok, now, do you understand why baseball has such a lofty position in the eyes of the American people?
Behind what we see is a sports story related to baseball culture.
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