Baseball is Boring – Know Why?
What is it about baseball that makes it different from other sports? I think the key word is boredom. Actually I am no longer thinking about this; it is boredom. Just as a disclaimer, I was a baseball freak when I was growing up. I played on a victorious 12 year old team when we won the league championship. I was most valuable player in JV Baseball at my high school with a 450 average. When moving to the Varsity and because I had this screwy natural screwball while playing first base, and just missed the coach during practice, I rode the bench the entire year. Two or three guys on that team actually made it to the majors.
But college really got me thinking again. I played first base and got a scholarship. But the pitcher only played 3 games with us. The Dodgers sent him off to a farm team. Well, yeah, he struck out 23 batters in each of those 3 games. There was then no pitcher so the coach asked me to begin pitching because I had that screwy screwball. I pitched the rest of the season and averaged 10 strikeouts a game – but no Dodger call. I joined the service and began pitching in Germany. A Minnesota Twins scout approached me. I told him to come back in 4 years; that is how long my military contract would be. But I knew I was not good enough. That guy in college, who struck out 23 each game, didn’t make it into the majors.
But then while pitching on a brigade level baseball team at Ft Hood, TX; I snapped my upper arm right in the middle of the humorous bone with a spiral fracture – funny how that happens; pun intended. I guess I was throwing just a little too fast and “screwed” up my arm for good. The doctors at the emergency room thought it was a muscle spasm, gave me a shot a run me off to x-ray. Even the x-ray tech didn’t look at the x-rays but shoved the whole packet of them under my good arm. Got back and the doctor said, OMG, your arm is broken. I could only say, “Well it feels like it” but how could I know, I never broke a bone before. Later, I did get my chance to spend some time with the majors. Three surgeons from the Texas Rangers came down to visit me at Ft Hood in the orthopedic clinic; they wanted to see my arm. Nope. No contract, just a look-see to see how this could possibly happen. One of the doctors wrote it up. And that is all the publication I got playing baseball.
It was a subsequent tour in Germany when everything changed for me. I had a friend who worked Army Intelligence and since he was of German dissent and played on a German Soccer team in the area, he coerced me into coming to practice. He made me promise not to quit. And I was really a fast runner so my speed got me on the old man’s team; part of that club. You had to be at least 30 years old. I couldn’t dribble the ball with my feet that well, so they taught me how to pass on the run, put me on left wing because I was left footed. During games they would pass a ball through the air laying it right in front of me while I was at a dead run. I passed in an arc into the middle and that was the only thing I could really do well. Then I learned to slide tackle. That is when they put me on really fast right wings and I would use that skill to get the ball out of bounds so our team had time to recover.
That is when I got turned on to soccer and realized baseball was a real waste of time. The pitcher we had in college, causes everyone else to just stand around on the field and do nothing. When you are not on the field and 3 people strike out, you will only get to bat about 3 times; that is 3 innings out of nine. There were only 4 players who touched the ball while batting. Each touch was actually a dribble 4 times back to the pitcher; he picked it up and threw it to me – Done – whew, I was so beat after a game like that. The most exercise we got was throwing the ball around before the start of each inning and we threw the ball around after those 4 outs and each of the 23 strikeouts unless it was the third out. That is when I would roll the ball back to mound. And they call that a game?
Football is much better but you only need to put out for several seconds in each play and the rest of time you pant in a huddle or stand on the sidelines waiting for a change of sides. Not everyone can play that sport because you have to be extremely overweight while at the same time being very fast, over-bound with muscle and you have to be way over on the mean and nasty side. If you aren’t that, you are a spectator. And don’t forget the pain and suffering with all those injuries; especially the brain injuries. There is also the use of steroid and other stimulants that leave a player with a greatly limited lifespan. Although not that boring; a better word would be barbaric. At least it is still under “b” in the dictionary. Close enough.
Basketball is fairly exciting but you need to be way over 6 ft. tall and have a very clever set of arms. It helps a lot too if you happen to be black. There are shorter guys, but they have to have a very super-clever set of arms and they need very sneaky feet. The uniforms are fairly inexpensive except for the $300 shoes. That is not me on every count.
I said baseball is boring. Well now currently as I am writing this, the World Series is underway – seven long games that could last forever if any of the games become tied for hours. The record I think is in the 20s. I guess the average time is 3 hours – watching a pitcher do his stuff. Sports casters talk about how the Cardinals need to bring their offense to the game. Well didn’t they just send at least 23 battles up? Boring! The most excitement I saw is when the ump called obstruction to end the 3d game. Everyone got excited about that. And the ump made the right call. When a defensive player is down on his belly, he never raises both his feet to get up. No one gets up that way. Your feet are supposed to go down where the ground is, not up in the air – unless you are working yourself into a handstand – never seen that in baseball ever.
The key is in the title – Series. Seven long games watching pitchers work their ass off and the rest of the players on both teams either sitting or standing in the field practicing the art of spitting. In the NFL, they have one game – done. Winner! The best thing to do is wait until the seventh game and watch that one. If you don’t get that far then someone really screwed up – probably a bunch of pitchers on one of the teams. If it gets to the seventh game; they are tied. And the number of pitchers who screwed up is just about equal. I guarantee that. But when there is one game left, that is actually when they decide the World Champions.
Basketball? Same thing. Seven long games and there will inevitably be several players just about equally off their game in the preceding 6 games resulting in a tie. Only the last game determines the winner. Anytime there is a series, the same thing is going to happen. But of course if you are a fan, you are not there to see a really great game being played. You are there for the atmosphere. You enjoy being noted as being part of the crowd and just having been there. That is why you pay so much to watch one of these games before the final because you can’t afford the price of the last game; unless you are quite well off, you demonstrate that fact by buying 7 tickets or just renting a box so you can party. It is all about the excitement of the gathering; being with friends or just being one of those sitting on your butt for 3 hours waiting and hoping one of those cameras will catch you and put you on national television. Wow. Now that is a game. I can hear it now, “I don’t remember the score but did you see me on TV?
I just love staying home and watching these final games on TV. In football, the refs talk to me after every flag, I get tons of instant replays or I can just go back and watch any play I want, over and over, and I only need to walk a few feet to get all the free refreshments and food I need. I can get smack dab, broken down drunk and never have to have a designated driver; all at a significantly lower cost. If I pass out, I am already laid back in a recliner and have no need for the stadium medical staff and an ambulance. I can just wake up when I wake up. By the way, “I passed out; can someone tell me what the final score is? I have to know that when I get back to work in the morning.” Getting that information is absolutely necessary to remain really, really cool in the eyes of your co-workers.
Yeah, I know, soccer is very low scoring but so are one-run baseball games – except there are 7 these games in a row. But the difference is I have played both games and, with soccer, can be entertained by the constant activity and finesse of a ball between players using mostly their feet running at full speed most of the 90 minutes. That is one and half hours with a 15 minute break and a few minutes added by a ref as down time (added time is the phrase they use) from running your ass off. There are very few substitutions, very few injuries; they don’t have to stop to move the chains, no two-minute warnings, no downing the ball by the quarterback to stop the clock, and there is only one game to decide the real world champions – not a world champion of only United States teams.
So my point; having played the game of baseball, I am absolutely certain it is a boring game. And I am getting bored writing about the boredom in baseball and other US sports. But since I did take a few minutes to discuss soccer I have gotten some relief. Now I can go watch a soccer game on TV and know full well I am not watching “boredom in action!” And I can go set my TV to record the final baseball game of the World Series so I can begin viewing it after my seventh inning stretch in my living room. Finally in the final – Nice. Now that is much better. “You go, Guinness.”