Baseball: America’s Past.
With the Detroit Tigers down 2 games and playing Game Three at home against the Texas Rangers tonight, this is likely the worst time for me to admit that I hate baseball.
I know, but before you call me anti-Detroit or un-American, please hear me out. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last few years, but it really solidified for me last month when Mark and I were in Seattle and decided to take in a Mariner’s game.
We arrived just before the first pitch to a 1/8 filled stadium. In LA, being late is standard and Dodger Stadium usually gets packed toward the end of the second inning. On a warm, dry September evening in Seattle however, there was no influx in attendance, if anything, it dissipated throughout the evening.
Where were the fans? Why did no one take anyone else out to the ball game on a clear Seattle evening? Because. Everyone else thinks baseball sucks, too. Except my Tiger-loving friends and family who are excited because their team is in the playoffs.
But that’s just what’s missing from baseball– excitement. During our evening in Seattle there was none. I guess when I think about it, I shouldn’t be so surprised at the apathy. It was post-Labor Day and the Mariners had been out of the playoff race since May. Why would anyone come out to watch a team that isn’t going to advance to a title?
Given that there are 162 games over 6 months, one would think that there would be plenty of time to determine who ends up in the playoffs. However, after one month, several teams find themselves out of the running, due to a large deficit in the standings that clubs rarely find themselves making up. With 8 of 30 teams making it into the playoffs, fans become uninterested. Compare this to NHL and NBA playoffs when over half (16 of 30) of the teams make it into the playoffs which last around 2 months (versus baseball’s 3 weeks). Talk about exciting times! The hype generated from sports news combined with fan energy creates enthusiasm and hope that radiates throughout the country.
In our fast-paced, instant gratification society, who has the time to sit and watch a hopeless or promising team play a game that has few moments of excitement between long bouts of boring? The game itself is drawn-out. There’s too much downtime between pitches, plays, and innings. I had one professor in college who gave us “stretch breaks” so we would stay engaged during the 3 hour lecture. “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” is one big stretch break that is designed to keep us interested. Think about the last time you were at a game and actually stayed the whole time. The game is better after the 7th Inning Stretch because you were able to refocus after being bored for so long.
The season is lengthy as well. Baseball, with it’s outdoor atmosphere and hot dog munching fans, marks the beginning of summer…and it should end it, too. World Series on Labor Day? I’m for it. This might also service the baseball television ratings that have dropped over the last several years when America’s new national pastime begins in late August.
Let’s talk about athleticism. I would argue that baseball is the LEAST athletic sport in mainstream sports. It is evident that many players are not training to their full potential. Some people don’t even play half of the game and get hurt running around the bases (e.g. David Ortiz, Red Sox designated hitter). Some players are on the disabled list for blisters. I wish I could use this excuse for why I’m not coming to work next Monday.
Also, can someone please explain to me what place eating or chewing tobacco has on the field? It’s not like you’re burning so many calories that you can’t wait until the game is over to eat. I’ve never seen David Beckham have a snack on the sidelines…and when’s the last time you were going out to do something truly athletic and felt you needed to chew?
Now, all of this being said, I will be rooting for the Tigers tonight. I’ve reveled in my friends’ mobile uploads from Comerica Park and have bought into the excitement, for now…until the Red Wings game comes on anyway.