Finally, after months of waiting, my favorite time of year is upon us once again! I’m referring, of course, to baseball season.
While it’s a relatively recent development, baseball is, hands down, my favorite sport and, I’d argue, the absolute best sport. In the past, I would’ve said that about football, but not anymore.
What changed? I don’t know…are you seriously asking? Have you been following the news lately?
If nothing else, transferring my most rabid fandom to baseball will keep me from being rounded up and detained in a morning raid when Trump’s crusade against the NFL reaches it’s inevitable conclusion.
All those high-profile domestic violence incidents don’t improve my opinion of the NFL much, either.
And how about traumatic brain injuries? Those are a problem. It’s hard to justify throwing the entire weight of your sporting support behind a league that turned a blind eye to the horrors of CTE for decades. I don’t know how wrestling fans do it!
But all of that is beside the point, because I’m here to talk about baseball.
Injuries are a good place to start, though, because that’s one area where baseball holds an obvious advantage over football and most other sports.
Sure, injuries happen. They happen in every sport. But in baseball, they trend more toward soft tissue injuries like muscle strains and whatnot. Obviously painful for the players involved, but for the fans at home, the bright side is that seeing a guy pull a hamstring isn’t the kind of visual that’s gonna turn your stomach and haunt your dreams for weeks to come. No one shouts at the television, begging it to stop showing all those heinous replays of a shortstop straining his groin.
There are exceptions to that, just like anything else (Google Dave Dravecky if you’re brave), but in general, the risk of seeing a brutal injury during a baseball game is minimal. Which is impressive for a sport that calls for erecting a safety net between players and spectators.
Also, there aren’t a lot of concussions in baseball. Because there isn’t a lot of moving in baseball. The chances of colliding with something that will ricochet your brain off the inside of your skull decrease dramatically when you spend most of the game just standing in one place.
I don’t mean that as a knock against the game. It’s just an inarguable fact that every single thing about baseball is designed to make sure as many people as possible get to chill as much as possible.
That’s why it’s America’s pastime. We don’t care about the game, we just love being lazy. And baseball caters to that desire for shiftlessness like no other sport can.
Think about what constitutes a perfect game in baseball — no runs, no hits, no walks…no action. That’s perfect. That is baseball operating at peak efficiency.
If two pitchers both took perfect games into the ninth, and then one of them lost on a solo home run in the bottom of the inning, those two uneventful hours would be hailed as the greatest game in baseball history, and most of the participants wouldn’t even have to shower after.
Baseball is a pitcher’s game. The only reason games are 12–14 hours long is because at some point we decided we wanted more offense and the league took steps to make sure you get more of your precious home runs and now the game is mostly bat flips coupled with waiting for more bat flips. As if a pitcher being really good at his job isn’t also completely enthralling to watch.
Speaking of home runs, that’s the best possible outcome if you’re at the plate. And what’s the payoff? You get to casually trot around the bases and sit right back down in the dugout. Again, laziness bag secured.
I honestly don’t know why every great home run hitter doesn’t demand an immediate trade to the American League. They have the designated hitter. The National League does not, which means the pitchers have to hit and the fat dudes have to play first base. Gross.
Either way, be it a strikeout or a home run, the option each side desires the most is the one that requires the least amount of effort from most of the players on the field. As an American, I deeply respect that.
Even just watching baseball requires significantly less effort or attention than watching any other sport. The one possible exception there is soccer, which you don’t need to watch at all, because it’s the worst.
Beyond that, if you’re looking to take in a game that doesn’t require a mastery of AWS analytics to understand, baseball is for you. Name another sport where a fan can show up with a book, read at least half of it, and still pay attention to the most pertinent moments in the game. That’s called multitasking. It’s a real time saver.
Another thing I love is that baseball is the least violent game, but it has the most violence-ready equipment.
Sure, other sports have more physical contact, but no one’s walking confidently into the post-apocalypse with a football in their hand. Unless you’re planning to barter it away for some canned meat, the pigskin is not your friend come marauding time.
But a baseball bat? Now that’s a tool you can use in combat.
I sometimes like to imagine that’s the real reason baseball banned steroids. Did they care about drugs? Of course not, all of your granddad’s favorite ballplayers were hopped up on amphetamines, except for the ones who were hip enough to do cocaine.
No, baseball got rid of steroids because they knew full well that the guy who just mainlined rage juice in the locker room shouldn’t also be the only guy on the field with a weapon.
That last part is a joke, obviously, but you get what I’m saying. Baseball bats are cool. Everything else is just equipment.
So, for all of the reasons listed above, I’d argue that baseball is objectively the best sport. It’s “boring” because it’s supposed to be boring. Pitchers are charged with wins and losses because they’re supposed to throw as many strikeouts as humanly possible. If you want something other than that, you’re watching the wrong sport.
Personally, I find the relative lack of action and excitement in baseball kinda refreshing. There are lots of places I can go for chaos these days. Baseball is the opposite of chaos.
Honestly, in 2019, that’s all I ask from anything.