Yeah, I know, baseball is boring. I get it. Here’s a summation of everyone who hates on baseball.
Guy #1 throws a ball, Guy #2 swings a wooden stick in an attempt to hit the ball a long way, and Guy #3 tries to catch the ball while Guy #2 runs in a big circle. Lame.
I’d rather play your sport any day of the week.
Because, in your sport, a guy in baggy shorts bounces a ball across a hardwood floor and five guys from another team try to stop him and his four color-coordinated friends from putting the ball into a round hoop. Much more exciting.
Oh, you’re not a basketball guy?
Let me guess. In your sport, tough guys with helmets carry poles across a field in an attempt to fling a small rubber ball into a net. Meanwhile, bros wearing different uniforms chase you down so they can whack you in the shin with their poles. Now THAT is riveting.
Or, maybe, you play football. Eleven guys and eleven other guys push each other around while one guy tries to run past the rest of them while he’s carrying a pigskin. Sometimes, they throw it. Other times, they kick it. Beyond entertaining.
Can you smell my sarcasm, here? Taste it? Feel it?
You see, when simplified to the pure basics, every sport sounds dumb as shit. Your sport is no exception. What makes a simple game important to a group of individuals, large or small, are the complexities that become appreciated after hours, days, weeks, years of practice and observation.
I like watching basketball. I like watching football. I like… OK, I don’t really like watching lacrosse, at all.
I would rather watch Bernie Sanders knit a sweater while whistling to the tune of “Hotline Bling” as Fat Jonah Hill belly dances in the background.
Baseball has always been my favorite sport. It started at a very young age. At 8 months old, I was laying on a blanket in front of my parents’ television as my dad took video of me watching Cal Ripken Jr. circle the warning track at Oriole Park at Camden Yards after breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak. I started swinging a bat as soon as I was strong enough to pick one up. I would mimic my favorite players’ batting stances at every family party and in front of the television as I watched every O’s game.
As I grew and developed as an athlete and as a fan of the game, I continued to learn the little nuances that make baseball such a special game: the strategy of pitching to the hitters’ weaknesses, defensive shifts, when to drop a bunt, how to shorten your swing with two strikes, and countless other things.
I also watched my friends become keen to their own sports. Some of them did not like baseball. I was alright with that. I’m a firm believer that people are entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, whether those opinions are the same as or different from mine. The same is true when it comes to sports. Some like baseball. Some prefer football or basketball or something completely different. That’s OK.
Another thing I learned was that, as young athletes become fond of their sports and critical of others, judgments are made and stereotypes created. This applies to sports in general and the people who play them. You’ve got your football “jocks,” lax “bros,” baseball “nerds,” etc.
For the fun of it, I just googled “baseball player stereotypes” and clicked on one of the first links that popped up. My favorite answer: “there dumb and they chew.”
I’m willing to bet I know which sport that guy played. It rhymes with shmacrosse.
You see, here’s the problem: every sport is great in its own way. Lots of people just don’t realize it because they are too focused on why their sport is better than the rest.
Basketball players can run a clean pick-and-roll without thinking but don’t recognize the nearly orgasmic beauty of a perfectly executed hit-and-run. Football players are quick to point out that their sport is the toughest but wouldn’t dare set in the batter’s box with Aroldis Chapman standing 60 feet and 6 inches away from them. Lacrosse players think they’re cool because they have long hair but can’t touch the beauty that is Noah Syndergaard’s majestic flow.
There are exceptions, of course. Plenty of athletes enjoy multiple sports and plenty of athletes can play multiple sports.
Well, except Michael Jordan, the greatest player in NBA history, who tried playing baseball but could barely keep his average above .200 with the White Sox Double-A squad.
Look, I’m not out here to prove that baseball is better than any other sport. It is, but that’s not the point. I’m also not out here to bash every sport that isn’t baseball. As I said, every sport is great in its own way. All I’m trying to do is defend the sport that I love.
Because, you see, love of the game is a product of experience. It takes time to develop a passion for something.
And just because you don’t understand someone’s passion doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
So, while you’re fraternizing with your bros over a case of Natty Light, admiring each other’s calf muscles and overusing the word “brah,” I’ll stuff my cheek with another handful of ranch seeds and grab my bat because it’s time to hit some dingers.