The Truth About Baseball
Spoiler: There is very little thrill of the game.
By Jenna Ramsey, Seattle University
I grew up in the rare breed of Texas family that chooses to obsess over baseball instead of football.
The great American pastime is simultaneously adored and picked on, and for a long time, I did the latter. Baseball is tedious, often confusing and most of the players don’t even look like professional athletes. What, I’ve asked myself so many times, is the point?
It took 20 years and several reluctant visits to various ballparks across the country, but I’ve finally resigned myself to the fact that I like the sport. I’m not claiming to know everything about it or even to watch it all the time, but I’ve found a few reasons to genuinely enjoy it.
Here are the reasons why I continue to watch, even though my parents can no longer force me to.
1. It’s Nice and Quiet
Up until about age 12, I used to bring a book with me to any sporting event my parents dragged me along to. I remember feeling intensely irritated whenever my reading was interrupted by the deafening screams that came with every point scored, goal made or unpopular call by a referee.
For this reason, baseball games were always refreshingly calm. Runs aren’t too frequent, and typically the crowd only roars when it’s a homer.
The rest of the game is still enough for a yoga session. It’s often so quiet that you can hear the ball hitting the bat with a satisfying clarity—one of the details I’ve come to appreciate most about the sport.
2. You Have Plenty of Time to Figure It Out
The main issue most people seem to have with baseball is that it’s too slow, but all that time of inactivity can work to your advantage.
Unless the bases are loaded during the ninth inning of a tied game, the person you’re watching with will likely be calm enough to explain the sport, and will probably have time to do so in detail before anything thrilling happens on the field. The high-stress atmosphere of a basketball or football game is rarely an issue in a ballpark.
3. You Get to Know the Players
Actually going to a baseball game is the only way you can see everything the sport has to offer—including the chili dog you know will make you sick but that you pay $15 for anyway—but there are also definite advantages to watching from home.
One of these is that you see each player clearly on the screen as they walk up to bat and are told their entire life story as they swing. Where’s this guy from? Why did he start playing baseball? How does he feel about Kanye’s new album? You’ll probably find out.
They stand around so much that by the end of just one game, it’s possible you’ll have memorized each of the player’s names and batting averages. Then, when one of them makes a good play, it’s easy to feel genuine satisfaction on their behalf, even if you don’t care about who wins.
4. The Announcers Go Off on Weird Tangents
Of course the announcers know what they’re talking about and make plenty of astute observations and helpful notes for viewers throughout the game. But the game is long, people. Last year, the Yankees and Red Sox took nearly 7 hours to play 19 innings.
A lot of airtime is inevitably filled with odd, sometimes completely irrelevant anecdotes from the commentators. They’ll make the occasional dimwitted sidetrack to admonish young female fans for taking selfies during the game, but normally, the commentary is a great distraction from whatever nothingness is usually happening on the field.
5. It’s Great Background Noise
You don’t have to watch baseball to watch it. Having a game on while you’re doing schoolwork or reading a book is oddly relaxing.
Then again, my saying this could be a symptom of having had baseball on TV in my house for at least 40 percent of my childhood.
6. Some of the Plays Are Insane
Much of what happens during a baseball game doesn’t seem particularly extraordinary—some of the plays even look like something the average person could pull off with enough exercise.
But when a batter hits the ball out of the park, or a player slams up against the wall to catch it or throws it as he’s falling down, it’s somehow worth the half an hour or so beforehand in which nothing interesting had happened.
7. If You’re in the Park and You’re Not Watching, You’re in Actual Danger
This is the most literal reason to keep your eyes on the ball.
Only recently were ballparks required to increase the amount of netting protecting fans from getting hit with fly balls, and even that doesn’t mean total safety.
So if you’re taken to a game against your will by a well-meaning family member, friend or significant other, don’t spend the whole time glued to your phone. You might end up like this kid’s face almost did.
The best baseball game is the one where literally nothing happens. Aptly titled a no-hitter, it’s a complete game in which a pitcher does his job so well that no one from the opposing team ever records a hit.
It has only happened 294 times in Major League Baseball since 1876, and it’s as exciting as it is infuriatingly slow to unfold.
Though you aren’t supposed to even mention it while it’s in progress (for weird superstitious reasons), the tension is fun.
9. It’s Baseball Season
If none of these reasons convinced you, here’s the simplest logic: your favorite sport isn’t on anymore. Give baseball a chance.