I've watched quite a bit of softball over the past three days, and really, the past three years. Something hit me today, though. The way the game of softball is played is remarkably similar to the stories I've heard about Deadball Era baseball.
Think about it.
Players can thrive by simply slapping the ball. You live and die by the steal and the sacrifice bunt. Pitchers throw an ungodly number of innings, racking up tons and tons of wins. Home runs are few and far between, but the good players hit plenty of them. Really, the only difference between the two "styles" is number of games played.
What made this click into place for me today was merely coincidence. As I was driving home last night, I tuned into the Astros-Dodgers game on my satellite radio. The game broadcast was from the Dodgers affiliate, but I was surprisingly not disgusted with blatant homerism and surprised to figure out Charlier Steiner, the old ESPN SportsCenter anchor, is LA's play-by-play guy. At any rate, he mentioned an idea for Michael Bourn to choke up on the bat to get more slap-type hits. He and his color guy (didn't figure out his identity) both discounted the strategy, but did talk about how guys like Nellie Fox and Rogers Hornsby made careers of those slap-type hits.
While softball is very different, because they use an aluminum bat and throw underhand, it's not that far-fetched a comparison. In fact, in the late 1800's, some pitchers DID throw underhand. I remember reading about Alexander Spaulding throwing underhanded in his goodwill tour around the world (maybe).
At any rate, it was a cool realization today. I've always enjoyed softball. But tying it together with baseball history (another one of my faves) was very neat.