Wednesday, March 7, 2007

baseball as compared to other sports

Professional sports in general offer a vaguely narcotic form of escape from the drudgery of modern existence, but the form that the particular escape takes varies somewhat from sport to sport. Following basketball, for example, seems a little bit like binge drinking in a trendy bar, the prospect of some incredible encounter dangled before your eyes, and drinks designed with presentation in mind as much as anything else.
Following baseball, on the other hand, is more like going home every night and nursing three martinis worth of cheap gin over a couple of hours; while you are doing it there is a general desire for it to be over, followed by a somewhat stronger desire for more, once it finally ends.
This difference, of course, has a lot to do with how baseball is played compared to other sports; and particularly the criticism leveled against the sport by non-fans, that the sport is boring and that the players are never required to display amazing athleticism, that they generally just stand there instead of running constantly- their harshest critics will go as far as to imply that this means that baseball players are lazy and, in some instances, fat. These people ignore the fact that hitting a professionally pitched baseball is generally agreed to be the single hardest thing to do in sports- and pitching professionally is probably not easy either- but both of these tasks appear somehow less impressive than throwing down a dunk since you don’t have to be air-born and are not significantly hampered at either of them by having a beer gut.
The proof of this, though, that the athleticism required for baseball in general is significantly less than the athleticism required for other sports is the fact that baseball teams play almost every day, whereas basketball teams play not quite every other day, and football is played once a week. Thus, the while the baseball fan has to sit through many innings of groundballs and pop-outs before seeing a spectacular catch, stolen base, or long ball, they are, during the summer, able to get their fix every day. In fact, the true baseball fan is drawn not so much to the spectacular play, but to the gentle music of the game, the steady rhythm of balls and strikes, and the terrapin race in the standing taking place over the course of the whole long summer.
…damn, I can hardly wait for it.

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