Unique aspects of American baseball as the World Series begins

Reporter's Notebook

Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians,is setup for the World Series, with the Quicken Loans Arena in the background, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016 in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

America celebrates the new colors that arrive every single fall. The lifespan begins with the bouquets of spring, wearing on through the hot summer, and eventually fading into October, where a handful of colors shine brightest before winter resets the clock again.

Matt Shirley is a guest producer on The Heat on CCTV America. His analysis represents his views alone.

These colors are dyes pressed into baseball jerseys, and we’re seeing colors this fall that we haven’t seen in a long time.

Tonight ushers the first game of America’s great national pastime of baseball. From the National League, the Chicago Cubs (red, white, blue and gray, by the way,) face off against the American League’s Cleveland Indians (red, white and navy blue.)

The last time the Cubs were in a World Series was 1945, and the last time they won was 1908. The Indians competed more recently, 19 years ago in 1997, but haven’t won since 1948. This is, if you will, as high-stakes as it gets.

Why is the World Series important? It happens that this might be America’s second-most popular sport, but it’s the oldest and most permanent professional fixture; 30 teams play 162 games apiece to get to this point, and only one prevails in the best-of-seven series. Cities and towns have risen and fallen for over a century to this matchup.

For those not yet lucky to know what makes baseball so special, here are some pointers:

  • It’s one of the few major sports where the defense has the ball.
  • It’s not governed by a clock, but by who has scored the most at the end of nine innings.
  • It has no points, only runs.
  • The contours of the field of play are dictated by the architecture of the field itself. There’s only one proper corner in the sport
  • You score in the game by going home.

Baseball and perhaps boxing are the most literary sports, if only because it’s the personalities inhabiting an otherwise-untouched rulebook. In baseball, everyone bats.

This May 20, 2005, file photo shows Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), right, and Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena) in Cleveland. When LeBron James and the Cavaliers, whose historic comeback in June against Golden State in the NBA Finals ended Cleveland’s title drought dating to 1964, receive their championship rings and a banner is raised in Quicken Loans Arena before their season opener, the emotional ceremony will merely be the warm-up act. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

This May 20, 2005, file photo shows Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), right, and Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena) in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)

The head coach is called a “manager” and he or she has to wear a jersey same as the players. Pitchers can throw as fast as 100 miles per hour and still give up hits. Batters can steal bases. Outfielders can leap over fences to stop home runs.

These are all just aphorisms and all sports have them, but baseball was here first.

Many of America’s greatest strides as a nation were made first on the baseball field. Jackie Robinson was the first black man to appear in a uniform — breaking a racist tradition held by the owners — on April 15, 1947, a year before President Truman enacted racial desegregation in the U.S. military and 17 years before the U.S. Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, banning discrimination based in race.

Baseball is the sport where miracles happen, like perfect games and walk-off home runs. Where people of all races and creeds have come together to earn themselves and their fans a victory that lasts all the way until next fall, when my team wins.

At least, I sure hope they do.