In defense of baseball

American football is, without a doubt, the biggest money-making sport there is.

Auto racing is among the most popular.

Soccer – or football to the rest of the non-American world – is another of the most popular.

baseballBut people seem to have something against baseball. It's not just some people; it's a lot of them. It's boring, they say. Too slow. If, as an offensive player, you fail at your job 7 out of 10 opportunities, you're a sure-fire hall-of-famer.

In fact, the notion that a person can actually play baseball well offensively is just ridiculous (and as a culture, Americans are offensive-minded). Someone throws a ball from 60.5 feet away, often in the 90mph range. The ball moves based on the spin, and it's your job as a batter to take an instrument that's about 32 inches long and, at its thickest, about the width of the ball. There are eight people in front of the batter and one immediately behind attempting to stop the batter from succeeding. Seriously. Ridiculous.

Baseball's a different sort of sport. Endurance is important: in roughly six months, there are about 18-20 days off, including weekends. There's a lot of travel.

And there's very little predictability.

Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter last night. It's not an unheard-of feat. In fact, it's the third one in the major leagues this year. But he threw 134 pitches, which is a whole lot; this time of the year, many starting pitchers are just starting to be allowed to throw 90 to 100 pitches before they're pulled for worry that they'll hurt their arm. Santana threw 50% more pitches than he might have been allowed, and he still got batters to fail every time they were up.

He may not pitch well at all the rest of the year. Like I said, little predictability.

But there is some predictability.

Baseball people are numbers people. There are so many numbers measured and available that even an average manager could predict within a few feet where one particular fielder should play based on who is pitching, the type of playing surface, the time of day, the weather and what color jerseys his team is wearing. Change one of those factors (well, except the jersey color), and the same fielder could reasonably be moved 40 feet and the manager would still be correct.

I think few people (yes, some, but still, few) would argue with sitting in the sun on a quiet afternoon, the smell of freshly cut grass, hot dogs on the grill and a cold beer in hand. And outdoors, that's exactly what baseball is. And with a lack of predictability, there's always the chance that attending a baseball game means you're going to see something amazing happen.

[photo credit]

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02/06/2012

2 thoughts on “In defense of baseball

  1. Mitch Mitchell

    I love baseball. I love it because of the numbers. I love it because you never know what’s going to happen. I love it for the strategy. I love it for the history.

    I mean, Santana didn’t only throw a no-hitter, but the first one in Mets history; that’s astounding with the great pitchers this team had. And yet you can bet that those who saw the game saw some almost hits, some almost runs given up, etc. All that and a 7th inning stretch; no other sport touches something like that.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted..Rhododendrons In Liverpool

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  2. Phil

    I’ve always loved baseball. I played as a kid, both in little league and pick up in our backyards. When we didn’t have enough people, we played monkey in the middle–essentially a drill to practice the rundown. I played catch with my father. I listened to his stories about seeing the old NY Giants play as a kid and about seeing a bunch of Sox games during his time in the Navy, stationed in N.H. I saw games in Syracuse where I always rooted against the Chiefs when they were the Yankees farm team!

    Mitch is right about numbers and about history. Some of that history is personal.
    Phil recently posted..Where I Go When I Can’t Take The B.S. Anymore

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