>The MLB All-Star game took place on Tuesday. And I’m not sure I could have cared any less.
I want to like baseball. I really do. I want to actually enjoy conversations I have with my friends who are baseball fans. It’d be great to not have to wince every time a baseball topic comes up at the water cooler and I’m forced to draw from my memory banks what teams were competing in the last five World Series. I hate having to act like I care about Stephen Strasburg’s hype. And, I want to do more than just politely be in awe when someone hits a .333 or better.
A recent Harris Poll announced the number of baseball fans has dipped. Again. Last year 41 percent of sports fans called themselves baseball fans. This year, only 36 percent aligned themselves to baseball. I wonder why.
The last full-length baseball game I remember watching on T.V. was nine years ago, during the World Series, when the Yankees took another title. And that was the last night I had an inkling to do so.
I consider myself a sports fan. I grew up watching and playing every game you can imagine. I was always the fifth man on my brothers’ basketball pick-up team, always the defender when my older brother wanted to air it out and my other brother wanted to catch his passes. But whenever we played baseball, there was always something about it than never struck my fancy.
Perhaps it was the insane amount of time hitters get to between swings that bothers me. And between swings. And between more swings.
I’ve never understood why players were allowed so much time. Yeah, I get there’s a cadence, a tempo, a feel each hitter wants to achieve before making the at bat. But, basketball players only get 10 seconds to shoot a free throw. In tennis, a player gets 20 seconds to serve to his or her opponent. If they surpass the allotted time — get this, MLB — there’s a penalty. I think it’s so funny to see a professional athlete fidget with his batting gloves for a good 30 seconds before even walking up to the plate. And then fidget with them again between swings. Dude, the gloves are on perfectly! Stop messing with them!
And just like the NBA, I certainly think the season is too long. Individual games become more and more and more insignificant. Players understandably get worn out. Injuries can happen. Players sit out games to avoid injuring themselves before the post-season. And the quality of play invariably dips. But, anything for the sponsors, right? Anything for potential sales and money opportunities, sure. If they could, I bet they’d extend the season another 20 games.
Perhaps if I lived in a city like Chicago, where Cub and Sox fans outnumber the leaves on their city’s trees, I’d soak in all 162 games. But I don’t. I live in South Florida, where fans are lacking, the appreciation of the sport waning. I’ve attended a handful of Marlin games, and truly have enjoyed the experience. I think the majority of the players are pretty cool guys, and I feel bad when there are more empty seats in the stands than at a St. Thomas Aquinas high school football game. It’s the same thing with me — what if no one read any of the magazines I help produce? I’d feel awful.
Don’t get me wrong. I love supporting my local pro teams and businesses. But would I give up a Saturday night to watch the hometown heroes? I elect no.
But beyond anything else that irks me about baseball, it’s the exact nature it that kills me. I’ve always played team sports, and I’ve really appreciated the direct affect one teammate has on another who has on another. In theory, baseball players can be on the field for an entire half inning and never get to touch the ball. How can this be called a “team” sport when not the entire team participates? Yeah, the pitcher’s integral. So’s the catcher. And, depending on the situation, certain members of the infield are, too. But if a ball’s not hit beyond the clay, the outfielders are completely out of the play and really hold no importance. And, even if a ball’s hit toward the outfield, not all three of those players are always involved.
This so-called team sport is really lacking for me. Sure, could I hit a 3-inch white ball that was being hurled at me at 90 mph? No. Do I give credit to folks who can do it? I guess. But, looking at baseball as whole, I can’t be more perplexed at what makes it such an engaging sport. If anybody can clue me in, I promise to try and be as open-minded as possible. I’ll give anything a chance, even baseball.
However, don’t even get me started in pitch hitting and DH-ing…