For many baseball fans, the most enjoyable moments of their game-day experiences take place before and after the game and even during the game sometimes.
That's when they belly up to their favorite sports bar, enjoy a pint or two and debate such intricate, confounding life mysteries as whether it makes sense to send runners with two on, one out and a 3-2 count with a lead-footed hitter who's also strike-out-prone.
Every big league city has at least one standout rathskeller or restaurant where local baseball fans can hang their hats secure in the knowledge that every one else in the joint cares just as much about the home team as they do.
These places remind fans whose fanaticism may be misunderstood at home or in the office that it's not just OK to be a super-obsessed die-hard, it's commendable.
"You can have a judge, a jock, a millionaire, all sitting together and everybody's equal," explained Tim Springstead, owner of the classic Detroit saloon Nemo's. "We can talk about the '67 Sox or the '68 Tigers and the same old arguments always come up."
Dana Van Fleet, owner of Boston's Cask 'n Flagon, agreed.
"The premier sports bars are the ones that are steeped in tradition," Van Fleet said. "Sports bars that have been around for decades become connected, in a way, to the hometown team. The Cask 'n Flagon has become as synonymous to the Red Sox as the famed Green Monster."
Springstead explained that while many newer joints on the scene draw patrons with visual effects and variety, nothing upstages tradition.
"Some of the new places, they have 50 TVs and 60 beers on tap, and that's OK, I suppose," he said. "But [a sports bar] is really about having a place to go and talk sports with other fans."
With that in mind, here are 10 sports bars and restaurants that offer just what baseball fans need on game day (or any other day when it comes to all things hardball):
Josh Pahigian is the author of several baseball travel guides, including the recently released "Ultimate Minor League Baseball Road Trip."