11.11.2008

Part 1: Why baseball is actually the perfect sport or Why Kyle's post on football is dumb.

On October 30, Kyle had the audacity to call Football the "Perfect Sport." I took offense to this for two reasons.

1) Football is not the perfect sport (any sport that needs that many cameras for instant replay, cannot be called the perfect sport).

2) He sacrilegiously wrote this post in October, which every sport fan knows is owned by baseball. It's like French kissing your girlfriend's mom at the New Year's party. It's wrong Kyle... just wrong.

Anyway, in response to his post, I give you "Why baseball is the perfect sport, or, Why Kyle's post on football is dumb."

1) Baseball is by far the most team oriented sport. Although baseball begins with a one on one dynamic of pitcher vs. batter, its rules are designed to end each play with the ball in the field. Once the ball reaches the field, the game completely revolves around team play. Imagine a baseball game without a short stop, a first baseman, an outfielder, or a catcher. Without any one of the 9 positions that are active on the field, you could not play, or win a game. Professional batters are so good at place hitting that if you were missing any of the 8 fielding positions, they would dissect you over, & over, & over again. Sure, every player isn't active on every single play, but I give you a challenge: choose the best team in the NFL and remove an offensive lineman, or a special teams blocker, or a defensive end. Other teammates could pick ups the slack and you still have a shot at winning. I take the best team in MLB and take out ANY of the fielders... let's say right fielder. You get decimated. There's no way to make up for a missing teammate in baseball.

Some may say that when a pitcher is doing well, no other player is involved in the gameplay. False. Baseball's rules are such that a pitcher can't just get up, get hot, and throw 27 outs in a row. The longest a pitcher can stand up there and throw at one time is 3 outs worth. This rarely involves 3 straight strike outs (K's), forcing the pitcher to rely on his teammates. Now, it's true that no-hitters (a game where no earned hit reaches base) are thrown, but only 256 have been thrown since 1875 (that's about two per year in the entire league). Every single one of those no hitters has involved excellent defense by the entire team. Additionally, a perfect game (amazing that baseball actually owns the term: perfect game... coincidence? I think not) has only been thrown 17 times in MLB history. A perfect game is when no-one reaches base on a walk, a hit, hit batter, or error by fielders. This is literally 27 up and 27 down, and even it is reliant on solid fielding. A pitcher is to baseball what a quarterback is to football: The catalyst for gameplay.

2) Baseball is the fairest sport. Every player gets at least 3 pitches thrown to them. Those pitches have to be in a pre-determined area which is based on the batter's size and stance. The sport's officials have the least impact on the outcome of the game of any major sport. All pitch calls are reviewed for accuracy after each game. EVERY play, be it a pitch, throw to a base, tag for an out, or an outfield catch is one player against another. In other words, all action on any given play is at a single point on the field, easily callable by an umpire. Instant replay was only instituted THIS YEAR solely for home run accuracy, not for judgement calls made on base by umpires. Conversely, in football, so much is going on on every play that an official could call any number of penalties on any play. Instant replay is considered a necessity and challenge flags have been instituted because refs can and often get calls wrong. Additionally, a form of pass interference, holding, or offsides happens on almost EVERY single play. The refs have to subjectively ignore most of the penalties just to let the game progress. Another way ref's can influence football is when they "spot" the football. A team can gain or lose 1-3 yards based on the spot which is at the sole discretion of the ref. Trust me, referee bias is a problem... if it wasn't, why would the Pac-10 force all non-conference opponents to use their refs? In baseball, there is complete transparency for all plays called by an umpire.

3) The action is constant, but not too constant. The name of the game is consistency. There is no play clock because the game doesn't stop. You have enough time between innings to switch sides, but the gameplay is continuous. Umpire's regulate time at the mound, batters getting out of the batters box, etc. I know MANY football fans that would rather watch football at home on their HD Tivo's so they can forward timeouts. Baseball is good on TV, but it is best live because of the living atmosphere of the park (except Yankee Stadium... where you feel like you're going to get stabbed if you go out for a hot dog).

4) Every position is a "skill position." In football there are several "skill positions" (the positions that throw, run, or catch the ball). This implies that the rest of the team are playing unskilled positions. In baseball, all positions are skill positions. I would argue that baseball has the most talent per team than any major sport. Not only are these guys amazing fielders, but they each have to go out and hit against guys throwing 95+ mph balls at them. Every player on every team has had to fight through (or to stay out of) the brutal MLB farm system, which creates an environment where every single player on a MLB roster is an excellent player.

5) The feel of the gameplay is natural to most people. The game just makes sense. The general game is simple enough that a first time watcher can pick it up in no time, but the intricacies of the sport can keep the greatest statistician entertained. True blue baseball fans can delve as far down the rabit hole as theyd like into squeeze and suicide plays, bunts, batting counts, hit & runs, pitch outs, splitters, knucklers, short field, the shift, cut-off men, pickles, hitting signals, southpaws, submarine pitchers, on base percentages, and batting averages. However, the beauty of baseball is that at the end of the day, it's as simple as swinging a bat at a ball and getting around the bases to score. Everyone can enjoy it.

Part 2 to come...

11 comments:

Emily said...

wow. I never knew. This should make Joe happy.

Kyle said...

I can't tell if you're serious or just trying to get me riled up. You're like the Kirk Herbstreit of Blogger. In any case, I'll rip you a new one tonight. Link forthcoming...

Dolphinsbarn said...

The truth is painful Kyle. You can't argue with facts, and there are 6 more coming.

Stay tuned.

Ming said...

Are you trying to ostracize girl readers? Because I love you babe, you know I do....but that was a painful read. Not because it wasn't well written...because it was, but because it was ALL about baseball...I mean seriously? I think you should write something that the girls will enjoy. Take it as a challenge :)

Melanie said...

Maybe you should do another interview with the Twilight author a la Mark! I second Mindy...very well written, but I'm afraid only Mark will appreciate the post because he's an even bigger baseball nerd.

Wendy Weiler King said...

I'm with the girls, but I will say I love a good baseball.... MOVIE. Field of Dreams, A League of Their Own... and hello -- SANDLOT!

Mark said...

I think we're going to have to consult the all knowing one about which sport is best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om_yq4L3M_I

Dolphinsbarn said...

Awesome clip Mark, although, I don't know who's side he's on here. I'll go with mine.

Dawntreader said...

I hope you're going to mention a particularly good book with a baseball connection. You know which one.

Joe said...

You have a silver-tongue, my friend. Inciting the masses with your popular baseball oration. Hard to disagree. Although I'd be interested to read Kyle's rebuttal. Unfortunately, it's been so long since I've gotten to actually watch a whole baseball game . . . (no tv), I starting to forget what it tastes like. Help me.

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