Every now and then I am asked — and not just by foreigners or women — to explain just what it is I find so fascinating about baseball. To which I can only reply with some or all of the game’s selling points :

1) You get to see Rod Beck in tight trousers.
2) If nothing else, it is a game of compassion. If Leon Spinks had gotten as many chances as Steve Howe, he’d probably be fighting Riddick Bowe on TV right this moment.
3) Luis Polonia says its a great way to meet girls.
4) Some of society’s boldest thinkers (Steve Carlton, Todd Jones, Carl Everett) are provided with a vehicle to make their controversial views widely known.

After those four, I tend to forget. But I do like the way that no matter how many times you’ve seen a ballgame, there is still the potential for mystery, even in the least meaningful of contests. And with that in mind, consider the Royals’ Calvin Pickering, whose 6th inning grand slam against the Rangers yesterday turned into a very long single when he passed teammate Justin Huber at first base.

“That was the batter’s fault,” Royals’ manager Tony Pena said. “We want our runners to tag up in that situation and we want the batter to be watching the runner. It’s good these things happen down here.”

All of this happened, by the way, at Surprise Stadium in the lovely town of Surprise, AZ.

Earlier in the day, the obsessive-compulsive Kevin Appier (above, right) was hit in the shoulder by a line drive off the bat of Michael Young. Since Appier won’t shake hands with anyone, he’s bound to heal twice as fast as the rest of us.