A world away, experiencing Asia for the first time in my life, I am only reaffirming my belief that baseball is the greatest sport on the planet and I am thankful to live in a time when I can follow it all live where I wake up to Major League night games.
It is my seventh year with Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and I have written nearly 1,000 articles for fans extolling the virtues of MLB.TV and online ticketing and customizing jerseys at the MLB.com Shop and getting Video Alerts on your mobile phone and so forth and so on. When you are around those who develop the technology for a living, you appreciate it and you must share it with everyone.
Now, here to cover the Summer Olympics for MLB.com this month, I am able to see first-hand how many people around the world experience Major League Baseball. It is something that you really appreciate, a true and reliable lifeline of love.
"Gone! Second home run of the night for the Sox! You kiddin' me?"
Suddenly as I am sitting here typing, I hear that voice of Boston's play-by-play man shouting on my computer, describing a three-run homer socked by Kevin Youkilis that soon followed Dustin Pedroia's big RBI. Now it is 19-16, Boston.
"A game that will not soon be forgotten," Jerry Remy says as Youk rounds the bases.
There was a time in civilization where you would have heard about that after coming back from a long trip. Now, you are pretty much there at the game. You don't feel deprived. You feel like someone in Boston watching it on TV.
Now I switch over to Phillies at Dodgers. It's the third inning, and Clayton Kershaw is pitching to Pat Burrell. "This could be an October matchup," you think to yourself. It is the first time I have actually watched the Red Sox since Manny Ramirez was traded, and I want to feel like I'm on top of the pennant races.
On my hotel TV screen, Ksenia Semenova of the Russian Federation just nailed her landing on the uneven bars. Now it's time for the United States' girls. I am watching it on CCTV. It is the Chinese equivalent of the NBC Olympics coverage, and people here are locked in. I have no idea what the broadcasters are saying, as I don't speak Mandarin, other than some basics to get me by. So I have a silent TV for an overall Olympics picture, I have a handheld peppering me with alerts about U.S. athletes like Phelps, and I have my computer for much-needed total baseball saturation.
Wow -- the Rangers just scored again, off Papelbon. This looks like the Game of the Year is unfolding in front of me, on MLB.TV and MLB.com Gameday, live while on the other side of the world. Brandon Boggs doubles in Marlon Byrd. Now it's 19-17, Red Sox. Gerald Laird flies out to right. Two out.
I'm watching Jonathan Papelbon holding on against Chris Davis, and then I see the 96-mph fastball with a four-inch break and 12-inch PFX according to Gameday, and it's a lineout to Pedroia and Boston fans celebrate. Unbelievable game.
Yesterday, as the U.S. baseball team was about to work out one last time in advance of today's opener against Korea, I was walking to Wukesong Field 3 with pitching coach Marcel Lachemann and we were discussing the challenge of following MLB news while so immersed in the Olympics. Then he proceeded to tell me about Evan Longoria's injury, and fellow U.S. coach Rick Eckstein was in front of us and interjected that Longoria should be back soon, fortunately, for the Rays.
"Do you think it's the Cubs' year?" I asked Lachemann.
"Maybe," he said. "They're what, five games up on Milwaukee? That series they swept [at Milwaukee] might be the difference."
I'm looking right now at the standings and, at this moment, the Brewers are just 3 1/2 games back. Anything can happen this summer. Milwaukee could win its first World Series championship. The Cubs could win their first in 100 years. Boston might stage a rare repeat. Tampa Bay could shock everyone right to the end, and maybe it will even be an all-Florida World Series. Maybe Yankee Stadium goes out in style.
The possibilities are what you love about baseball, and the fact that it is always there your entire life, something real and true, built to last forever.
It is here with me in China. I am headed over to Wukesong in a few hours to set up and will be scoring U.S. vs. Korea in the book I brought along. At that point Major Leaguers will be sleeping, but when they resume again I will have MLB.com Text Alerts on my BlackBerry to go along with those gymnastic updates, and after scouring the area for some good Peking Duck I will fire up my MLB.TV in the hotel room again.
This is how to travel.
Did Big Papi really hit two three-run homers in the first inning off Rangers starter Scott Feldman? That's what it said on the MLB.com homepage.
I am going back to watch both of them with the MLB.TV archives. I just have to click the bottom of the first in the clickable linescore, and boom-boom, there it is.
China invented paper. China invented movable type. It said so in the Opening Ceremony.
But Major League Baseball invented the way to follow every game of a professional sports league live around the world no matter where you are. From where I'm sitting, that one actually matters more than paper or movable type right now.