Baseball season starts tonight, and there are a few things sackers can teach us about love.
Whew. The Major League Baseball season is opening up today* and not a moment too soon, as the college basketball season came to a close a scant 36 hours ago and life would be awful if we just had the NBA and NHL to glance at over the rim of a pint glass.
Baseball, our national pastime, has always been the American go-to for something to do while we're kind of doing something else. While other sports punctuate maneuvering with moments of violent action, baseball is filled with stillness, then something almost happening. Then something actually happens and we all go bonkers. Is there a better metaphor for relationships?
Which is why we're hoping to illuminate one thing with observations from the other. Here are 9 ways in which baseball traditions can save your dating life:
1: Pay attention to him or he will run on you. Even the slowest ball players will steal second base if the pitcher forgets he's there. A guy seemingly content to stay on first base will bolt if you neglect him.
2: Don't show each other up. Breaking the unwritten rules of baseball (embarrassing someone in public) may earn you a 92-mile-per-hour fastball into your earhole. Punking your boo in front of friends will earn you an earful of verbal poo next time you're at home.
3: Someone is always watching. An old ball coach may forget about the camera when he jams his finger in his ear and then smells it. You might think dry-humping on the dance floor is okay because it feels like you're in a creepy commercial for Las Vegas's Cosmopolitan Hotel but someone will see you and will judge you.
4: Develop a set of signals. That dude standing by third base who looks about 20 years too old to wear a uniform is touching his belt, rubbing his belly and adjusting his cup to send instructions to the hitter and baserunners. You and your sig-oth should create an impenetrable set of non-verbal codes to let each other know when it's time to rescue the other from an awful conversation. Don't make it ASL because the handjob sign is super-obvious.
5: You're on the same team. If a batter gets nailed with a pitch, his team is ready to fight for him. You and yours should have each others' backs. Also, celebrate each others' successes like they're your own. If a dude hits a game-winning homer, his teammates mob him at home plate and he does them a favor by throwing off his helmet so they don't hurt their hands slapping him on the head. Think about it.
6: Can't win 'em all. An outstanding baseball team will win 60 percent of 162 games in a seven-month season. Relationships are like marathons, and holding grudges over long-dead arguments is a great way to make your dude feel as awful as watching grass grow... or soccer.
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7: The last three outs are the hardest. The beginning part is fun. The post-honeymoon phase has its moments. But splitting up is awful. Be wary of people who are cavalier about breakups; they have ice water in their veins and salt water in their hearts.
8: Every day is exactly the same. Fun traditions and good habits make us who we are, but tedium wears everyone down. Experiment with different positions, grips and stances — particularly if you're not getting the results you want. Feel free to play light-hearted jokes on each other but don't put Icy-Hot in each other's jocks (unless it's a thing you're into).
Very painful bonus: Never trust the Atlanta Braves. They, like anyone you fall in love with while on vacation, will break your heart if you give them even the smallest of chances.
*Note: The MLB braintrust headed up by Bud Selig actually started the season this year by matching up the Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners in Japan.