I’m not schizophrenic. I’m “well rounded.”

I am a runner.

I am a baseball fan.

My goal, by the end of this post, is to be able to say those things (or write them, rather) without cringing or feeling like I’m lying to everyone.

I’ve been running on a pretty regular schedule for about two and a half years now. I have eight bib numbers pinned to the wall on either side of the mirror in my bathroom, and three of them are from half marathons – that I actually finished! I am registered for my fourth half marathon. I have running-quality clothes, two pairs of running shoes, moleskin for my blisters, a wristwatch, and several water bottles. I’ve memorized various loops from my front porch for 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 10-mile routes. Yet, despite these telltale signs, I have refused for the last two years to identify myself as “a runner.”

It’s similar with baseball. Before the 2012 season, I never cared about baseball. Three years ago, I wrote a post that detailed just how much I did not care about baseball. I claimed, in fact, to be “an active hater of baseball.” I proved that even what I thought I knew, I still didn’t know. The best line from that post is, “I know that K stands for strike.” Whoops.

Two years after that, I wrote yet another post describing how little I knew about baseball. In the two years between those posts, without any logical flow whatsoever, I went from being a self-proclaimed active hater to being “indifferent toward the idea of baseball as a sport.” I think these two posts indicate that I didn’t know myself (or my position on baseball) as well as I thought.

So this year, I’ve been itching to write a third baseball post, from a very different angle, but I’ve mostly ignored that itch because I don’t want to be viewed as a phony. And yet, the simple truth is, I’ve faithfully followed the Kansas City Royals for the entirety of this season so far. I have listened to the radio broadcasts of the majority of the games they’ve played. I’ve caught a few on TV, when I’ve been lucky enough to be out in public establishments that are showing the games. And I read a Royals blog every day. But I hesitate to call myself a fan.

I don’t know why. I can tell you what number each position on the field is (which I mentioned being unable to do in that post from three years ago). I can correctly tell you now what a actually means, along with OPS, OBP, and BB. I can also tell you what a walk-off win is (that was an issue in last year’s post as well), what hitting for the cycle is, what a ground-rule double is and how it’s different from an inside-the-park home run, and what the difference is between a pitcher throwing a shutout and a pitcher throwing a perfect game. I can tell you what a wild pitch is and how a player can still get on first base after having struck out. I can tell you the difference between an at-bat and a plate appearance and how batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage are calculated.

I can rattle off the 9 positions, their main Royals players, and the fill-in players they’ve used this season. I can list a decent chunk of the Royals starting pitchers and most of the bullpen. I can tell you our top minor league prospects. I can tell you how many home runs Billy Butler has this season (23 at the time of this writing, and I swear I didn’t look that up). I can tell you who leads the American League in doubles (Alex Gordon). I can tell you which Royals players have gotten a raw deal being sent back and forth from the minors and not enough big-league playing time (Falu, Dyson, Giavotella). I can tell you the ages and many of the hometowns of my favorite players as well as which teams they previously played for (if any). I can also tell you our players’ nicknames (Moose, Hos, AG, Low-Cay [so far I’m the only one who calls Lorenzo Cain that, as far as I know], Salvy, Frenchy). I can even tell you which players have extended contracts or are not eligible for free agency yet.

There is plenty I can’t tell you too, of course. I don’t know what WHIP stands for, though I suspect it’s something per innings pitched. I know that WAR stands for wins above replacement, but I can’t tell you what that actually means, even though I’ve been told. I don’t know the difference between a two-seam fastball and a four-seam fastball. Or even the difference between a fastball and a breaking ball. I’m not sure what an off-speed pitch is, and I don’t know if I’d recognize a balk if I saw one, or if I could explain why something was a balk if I heard it called. I get confused about batter contact with the ball and which field is the opposite field when a batter hits there. I couldn’t tell you why Francoeur misses so many fielding opportunities or why the Royals management can’t seem to make key decisions that seem clear cut to the entire fan base and the rest of the professional baseball community. (But to be fair, I don’t think even the most seasoned all-around baseball fans could explain those last two either.)

So, I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’s time to claim and fully live into these identities of mine, new though they may be. The lesson I’ve had to learn about these new interests is that, just because I haven’t been interested in them my entire life, doesn’t mean their acquisition now is not genuine or that I shouldn’t be proud of them. For the last two years, I have gone running on my birthday (if you know how much of a birthday brat I am, and how committed I am to doing only things I very much want to do on my birthday, then you know what a big deal this is). And in 2012, I’ve been to eleven Royals home games, and a twelfth is already on the schedule.

So I think I can say, without fearing it’s a lie, that I am a runner, and I am a baseball fan (with a specific and rather loyal bent toward the Royals). And I will say those things from now on, and I will own them as much as I own my identities as writer, extrovert, flirt, reader, blood donor, and editor. Welcome to my personality. Apparently it’s fluid and there’s room for change.

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8 Comments

Filed under baseball, bloggy, writing exercises

8 responses to “I’m not schizophrenic. I’m “well rounded.”

  1. You forgot to mention your good friend Reese who remained a baseball fan through your “hater” years and taught you a good amount about baseball terms and, I suspect, kept you believing somewhere in the back of your mind that baseball actually WAS a totally awesome and viable sport deserving of the phrase “America’s pastime.” I am glad to hear that you like baseball, and I think we should go to a game together sometime. Though I’m still getting used to your (I would say rather abrupt) switch in favor of baseball. But you can call yourself a fan as long as you don’t jump on the Yankee bandwagon, which I really don’t think is a possibility, but I wanted to throw that out there nonetheless :)

    And you definitely are a runner. Haven’t you already come to this conclusion, or are you just revisiting it? Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. Woo! Fourth half marathon!

    The end.

    • Reese,

      I do think you’re taking a bit of misguided (possibly undeserved) credit here, but that’s okay. What does it mean that you “remained” a baseball fan during my hater years, as if my hating baseball somehow had the ability to undo your lifelong love of it? That’s just preposterous! And yes, while I was editing those two baseball books, you did indeed help me out a ton by teaching me what things meant, and that was great. But other than that… I don’t remember ever talking about baseball with you before this season – and why would we? Why would I want to talk about something I have no interest in, and why would you want to talk about something you love *to*someone who has no interest in it?

      Don’t worry, no Yankee fandom for me. Royals all the way. I don’t need a winning baseball team anyway; I’ve got a winning basketball team. :) And yes, come on up to KC before the postseason and we catch a game for cheap at Kauffman. It’ll be great. I *will *talk your ear off about the players, though – mainly just about how much I love them.

      • For some reason your replies to my comments always make me feel really defensive. I wrote most of my comment meaning to be funny, and you seem to have taken it more seriously than intended. You’re right we didn’t talk about baseball much, if at all, so I apologize for taking undeserved and misguided credit. I only meant that it’s unlikely you would have just decided to like baseball unless you knew people who liked it as well–me being one of them, although I realize I’m not the only person in the world who likes it, and I’m sure having a pro bball team and the ability to get cheap tickets were more driving factors. I also think watching baseball in person is *much* more exciting and entertaining that watching it on TV, so you have to have that in-person experience before you can really get into it. Mine came from years of watching my brothers play baseball, which is why I got into it so early. If I lived in Oklahoma all my life, I probably wouldn’t care about baseball at all, and I would be a college football nut like everyone else in this state.

        • I’m sorry, Reese. You’re right. My comment was also intended to be funny, but I will admit, I knew I was being a bit snarky. The truth is, you’re one of the people I’ve been afraid will think I’m a baseball phony because of how fast I’ve gotten into it and how little I knew or cared before. It’s just such a 180 that I guess I felt like I was infringing on your territory because I know you love baseball and always have, and I didn’t want to make you feel like I thought I knew more than you about something I am sure I don’t. Nor did I want to make you feel like I am treating lightly a passing fad for something you have loved your entire life. I respect your long-term love, and I have no idea how long I’ll be interested in baseball. It IS easy now, while I live in Kansas City, where we have a team to follow and cheap tickets to buy. If I ever live somewhere like Oklahoma again, where it’s pretty much a non-sport, I’m not sure what’ll happen. In any case, thanks for your patience with me. Sorry I try it so often. :)

  2. Jar

    Two more reasons Audra is awesome.

  3. b longfellow

    You have accumulated an impressive volume of baseball knowledge. i will have to study to keep up, starting with finding out what WHIP stands for. I know how to calculate it . . .
    And I am adopting Low-Cay from here on out!

    • Thanks, Longfellow. Just wait ’til next year. If I haven’t lost my momentum, maybe I’ll even start learning about other teams! I thought you knew what WHIP was? You said you did when we were leaving the K a few days ago and I said I had learned it since I posted… Were you just trying to save face? ;) Glad you like Low-Cay. The phonetic spelling is dumb, but it’s fun to say. I’m not too bad at nicknames, huh? :)

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