Why I love baseball (more than the other sports)
by, 08-29-2012 at 09:20 AM (1702 Views)
As I watched the game on TV last night (trying to put comparative images of The Towering Inferno out of my mind) I found myself wondering why I even loved this game so much. I even tried watching some basketball instead, but inevitably my finger kept moving toward the “last” button on the remote to check back on the game. Why? What is it about baseball that has me so ensnared, even when my home team is the Minnesota Twins? After reflection, here are five reasons I still love the game – even this year.
- There’s no clock. One of my pet peeves is sports that play games with the clock for competitive advantage. The final two minutes of a basketball game can take fifteen minutes to play. After the two-minute warning football changes its stripes completely and becomes a whole new animal. Hockey is better as you can’t stop the clock in the middle of the action with a time-out, but stalling tactics are still common. But in baseball, you can’t just run out the clock when you have a lead. You have to make that final play, get that last out, before the game can end. I remember watching last year’s World Series. Twice in game six Texas was one pitch away from winning it all. But they couldn’t get that last pitch, and St. Louis ended up winning the series. In baseball you have to finish what you started; there are no shortcuts.
- The relaxed pace of play. I know the trend these days is for more extreme games, with more speed, more contact, more “rad.” I guess I’m showing my age here, because I like the more deliberate gameplay of baseball. Do the dead times between pitches sometimes get heavy? To be sure. I do prefer a pitcher who cuts that down to a minimum and doesn’t dilly around before getting set up for the next pitch. But I like that you don’t have to keep your eye on the screen every second of every minute for fear of missing the action. It’s easier to pay attention and I prefer the more relaxed atmosphere.
- I love the sense of history that goes with the game. More than any other of the professional sports, baseball is tied to the history of America. The professional game has roots from before the Civil War and the current league system came into being in the waning days of Reconstruction. Since then baseball has been a part of the American scene. This was something that was driven home to me afresh when I visited Cooperstown this summer. It truly is the national pastime, even if football has usurped it in popularity in recent years.
- The gap between the “rich” and the “poor” is smaller than the other sports. No, I’m not talking economics here (and certainly not politics). I’m talking about the chances of a home fan seeing a win, regardless of who the home team is. Even the top teams in baseball struggle to win more than 60% of their games, and even the worst teams can usually manage to win 35-40% (Houston excepted, of course). Yes, you have stars, and some teams are perennially better than others, but even a Twins fan like myself can go to the ballpark with a reasonable hope of seeing a win. Hockey is also better in that way (which is part of why I like hockey too, and also because I played it), but in basketball and football if you have a bad team there just isn’t much incentive to go watch the team play. You can go for the atmosphere, for the whole game-day experience, but you don’t go for the game, which you know in advance will probably suck. More than any other sport, a baseball fan of even a bad team can enter the stadium with hope.
- There’s always tomorrow. I used to love watching football; my family had Vikings season tickets back when they were going to Super Bowls. Now, my interest is almost nonexistant. Why? Because I got tired, whenever the Vikings or Gophers lost, of being depressed for a whole freaking week. Life is too short for that. In baseball, even if you lose, there is always the (decent) chance that tomorrow will be different – you don’t have to wallow in it. Even in a bad season, you can look forward to the next day when maybe they’ll win and you’ll go to bed feeling satisfied rather than depressed. As a person of faith, I like hope. I prefer looking ahead to the good days to come than obsessing over past losses. In baseball I can do that more than the other spectator sports.
That’s why I love baseball.