- When my interest in baseball first blossomed, several of my friends were very excited. “When are you going to watch football?” “Are you going to watch football now?” “You should start watching football!”
But I’m not going to start watching football. I’ve tried. My friends have taken me to games. I’ve paid slightly more than cursory attention to games on television at bars. I even read “The Blind Side” by Michael Lewis, figuring if it worked for baseball, then maybe it would work for football, too, but it didn’t.(1)
- There’s no such thing as an interception in baseball.
In baseball, teams take turns like civilized people, first one side and then the other. There’s none of this back and forth and who has the ball and where is the ball and now we need a whole different set of players to try to get the ball. Some people love the thrill of the interception. I prefer the thrill of knowing what is happening. Which leads me to my next point…
- The pace of the game itself.
I like the fact that I can tell what’s happening in baseball. I’ve tried watching other sports and it just looks like a mad scramble to me, with players everywhere, and no one knows where the ball (or puck) is or who’s doing what. My friend C. took me to a Packers game and I have to admit that there were times when I missed whole plays because I was looking at the wrong thing on the field. In baseball, you always know who to look at.
- No clock.
Okay, there is a clock now for coach’s visits, and there’s been a pitch clock for a while, but a baseball game doesn’t have to end because an arbitrary clock that is started and stopped for (what appear to be) arbitrary reasons says “time’s up!” A baseball game goes on until someone wins. My friend E. is a Washington Nationals fan, so in 2014, when my beloved Giants played the Nationals in the NLDS, we went.
That game lasted 18 innings. Eighteen innings. Twice the length of a normal game. The longest playoff game in history. By the end, there was no food left in the stadium but old popcorn that had been made the previous day because the vendors all started shutting down in the 8th. Ten innings earlier.
In that particular game, there was no rain delay, no natural disaster, just two teams gutting it out until one of them won. It was strangely exhilarating to be sitting there at midnight, hours after the game was supposed to have ended, when every pitch could be the mistake that ends the game, every at bat the chance for a guy to be a hero. Fuck the clock.
- Body-type diversity.
Another thing I like about baseball is how many different body types can be successful at it. Are you a big fat guy? A tall skinny guy that looks like a flagpole? A short guy who lies and says he is 5’10” on the stats sheet? Hey, you could be a major league baseball player!
More than any other major sport, baseball allows for a diversity of body types on the field. This is one reason why I think that baseball is probably the most friendly major sport to integrate women, because of the variety of male players that are already successful at the game.(4)
- The frequency and number of games.
I was talking to my friend C. the other day about football. She’s a big Packers fan here in Chicago, and I am from Wisconsin, so I sometimes will watch football with her out of friendship, despite my disinterest, because C. is a heap of fun and there will be snacks. This is what friends do.
Any way, I asked her how many games are in a football season, and she said sixteen. SIXTEEN.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Baseball has fifteen games a day most days. A team plays fifteen games in less than three weeks! 162 games a season!(5) Now, obviously, that has to do with the nature of the sport, but I don’t know if I could watch a sport where a loss just hangs over you for a whole week until you get a chance to try again. Every game would feel like a playoff game! I don’t need that kind of stress.
None of this is to say that baseball is an inherently better game than any of the other sports, because it really does depend on what you want out of a game which you prefer to watch. I prefer baseball.
1. “The Blind Side” seemed less about the game of football to me and more about a White Savior who rescued a black kid from a terrible situation and then manipulated the academic system to keep him eligible for football. But I did only read it once.
3. This isn’t an argument that baseball is superior, despite the image on this post. I know that people like different sports for different reasons, and I understand that many people think that baseball is actually boring. That’s cool. This is just a list of ways in which baseball is different and why those ways make the sport interesting to me.
4. Of course I’m watching Pitch on Fox. I’m really liking it so far, and I’m liking how they address some of the issues Ginny is facing as a major league player. I don’t think a woman could be a major league pitcher, honestly, unless she were a screwball or a knuckleball pitcher, but hey, if Sergio Romo can do it, maybe I’m wrong.