What makes baseball so habit-forming, anyway? The answer isn't in the stats, the collectors' cards or even the beer -- the answer's between your ears.
First of all, we humans are social creatures, and we love to feel like we're part of a group. Being a fan gives you thousands of "brothers" who are rooting for the same team. Perfect strangers high-five each other in the mall when they realize they're both wearing Indians shirts. Local sports bars look like Mardi Gras when the home team wins the World Series -- it's a wonder Boston didn't implode when the Red Sox won the big prize in 2004 after an 86-year wait. And more than 90 percent of fans go to sporting events as a group, baseball included [source: Valeo]. All of this camaraderie is a big draw for a species that hates to be alone.
Not only does being a baseball fan get you lots of company -- it also gets you part of the glory. Dr. Edward Hirt, associate professor of psychology at Indiana University, did a study that found that when a guy's team won, he felt better about his own sports prowess, and about his sex appeal, too. When their team lost, though, guys felt worse about their own athletic abilities, and their chances of getting a date [source: UPMC]. At least one study showed that men's testosterone levels changed when they watched their sports teams win or lose [source: Bernhardt et al]. So, while most of us will never hit like A-Rod, we can feel a big high when we watch him do his thing.
Testosterone isn't the only body chemical that can change when you watch baseball. Candace Pert explains in her book "Molecules of Emotion" that the brain is bathed in "pleasure chemicals" when we do things we love, like watching baseball [source: Valeo]. Most of us manage to control pleasure-seeking behavior, but sometimes we can get stuck in a trap of compulsive behavior to avoid the bad feelings in life. This can lead to behaviors like compulsive gambling, sex addiction, and, yes, baseball mania. When something you do interferes with the other parts of your life, like work, family and dating, then you've got a problem [source: Valeo].