For the last six years, I have had an October ritual: rooting for the Yankees to lose. For four of those years, I have been disappointed (and things don’t really look good this year). I grew up rooting for the Orioles; the Yankees have beaten out my secondary rooting interest, the A’s, the last two years; and I absorbed a healthy dose of Yankees antipathy from my grandfather, a Red Sox fan — but I’m not quite sure why I like baseball so much. There’s a tradition enjoyable baseball writing (from Roger Angell, most notably, but also from people like Mark Harris and W.P. Kinsella). There’s the stat-hound factor; over the last thirty years Bill James and other sabermetricians (from SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research) have completely rewritten how many people — ESPN.com’s Rob Neyer being a prime example — think about baseball. You don’t need to get into real propeller-head detail, although I find that sort of thing interesting if it’s short enough; after reading one Bill James book and seeing how he codifies baseball by studying the reams of statistics the sport produces, I honestly think you’ll know more about baseball than most managers did twenty years ago (and more than some do today). But I think the thing that attracts me the most is the history — the football greats of the ‘60s probably couldn’t even make the practice squad of a modern NFL team, but I think that Josh Gibson or Lefty Grove or Rogers Hornsby would still be great. Baseball just hasn’t changed nearly as much as any other American sport. You can compare Honus Wagner to Cal Ripken or Alex Rodriguez and have a meaningful arguement about which was better. When you see a game at Fenway Park or Yankees Stadium, the sense of history just boils off the field. I love making that brief connection to America’s pastime from days gone by — even if, then as now, the Yankees were probably winning. None