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People root for their teams, of course.
Some people who do that prefer tension-free games. They'd be happy to see their team score 27 runs each inning while their starting pitcher no-hits the opposition. I recently met a guy who feels that way about the Red Sox. He didn't watch any of their American League Championship Series games against the Tigers. He couldn't stand the suspense. The rest of his family watched the games. He was upstairs re-arranging his handkerchief drawer when the Red Sox gained admittance to the World Series without having to buy tickets. This guy told me that when he heard the shrieking down below, he figured either the Red Sox had won or his wife was cheating on him in the TV room. He was happy it was the former. He'll be upstairs throughout the World Series, too.
People root for individual players, guys with whom they identify or whom they idolize. If their guy goes 3-for-4 with a stolen base and a couple of runs batted in, they're okay, even if it isn't enough for the team to win. During the '70s a woman I met told me that she attended Red Sox games solely to be near Carlton Fisk. She always got a seat behind home plate. She took photographs of Carlton Fisk, whether or not he was looking in her direction. If Fisk had pulled off his mask during a pitching change, walked over to her section, and asked her to run away with him, she'd not have hesitated. Off they'd have gone, whether or not Fisk's team was ahead.
I lost track of that woman, so I don't know if she moved to Chicago when Carlton Fisk went to the White Sox.
Finally, there are people who root for the game. They are happy if the spectacle features the qualities that drew them to baseball: intelligent pitching, timely hitting, alert base-running, and clever managing; a surprise or two when an underappreciated batter pokes one through an infield shift, or an old slugger they're trying to hide in right field for an inning lunges across his body to take a line drive off his toes; a play behind second that you can't quite believe the shortstop made, even though you've just seen him make it, diving to his left and then bouncing up and, in the same motion, making the throw to first to shock the fastest runner on the other team.
I've heard there are fans inclined to appreciate the World Series on all three of those levels. If you're one of them, lucky you.
This program aired on October 23, 2013.
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