In just about every U.S. city, if you’re not a fan of baseball, you might as well not be American. Harboring an aversion to the sport is equivalent to burning Old Glory—especially here in Boston, where I live.
What? You don’t know Big Papi’s slugging percentage? That’s an immediate flogging. People will ask you all the time--like, randomly, walking down the street--and they will give you a magical onion, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE GREEN, and you're actually supposed to answer to it. And you know what his slugging percentage actually is? I don't.
Tell anyone, you’d rather walk along the Charles River than spend an afternoon at Fenway Park or any baseball stadium? You’re looking at five years in Guantanamo Bay, pal. Seriously, I've personally told people this, and they actually spit on me. Like a llama.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of a namby-pamby anti-sports guy. Football is a part of my DNA and most of my shirts growing up were the color of blood. But let's face it: Baseball is lame and boring. At the risk of being cuffed and detained by Homeland Security, here are seven reasons why. Or, at least, that's what I think. Anyway:
Can we agree on this? One hundred and sixty two games in a regular season is 142 too many. Come on. By the time July rolls around, a game-winning home run or strike out in the bottom of the ninth doesn’t mean squat, except that it’s finally time to go to bed. Knock the schedule down to one game a week and then we might have something to look forward to, just as long as we don’t have to endure pregame interviews and press conferences all week long. It's too much.
It’s no shocker that you don’t have to be Mr. Universe to play baseball, but some guys look like they’ve been chewing on North Carolina pulled pork in the dugout instead of tobacco. Take a look back a few years and it’s even worse. Milwaukee tumors were as commonplace a generation ago as Camaros with T-tops. It’s no wonder steroids are such a problem in the league today. Why work out when all you have to do is shoot up?
Ask any football, soccer, rugby, or lacrosse player what they think about rain delays in baseball and they’ll likely give you an answer we can’t print here. What they’ll imply is that baseball players are a little less manly than other athletes simply because they won’t play in the rain. What’s the worst that could happen? Slower pitching? More runs scored? A few extra scratches and bruises? (Boo-hoo.) Stealing second means sliding into left field? Sounds like we have a way to make baseball less lame and boring. Or moreso. Or not at all. Or maybe it's a tie? Sometimes smoke conceals things.
If I want a lesson in mathematics, I’ll walk through the halls of MIT, not the turnstiles of Yawkey Way. We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves, aren’t we? On-base percentages, opponent on-base plus slugging percentages, sabermetrics … Alan Greenspan might enjoy crunching the numbers, but for those of us who’d rather leave our brains at work, the cold-beverage-intake-to-bladder-outflow ratio makes a whole lot more sense. Back when I was a kid and nobody used their brains in baseball, people would walk into a ballpark, and they would watch a game. And there would always be a group of other kids there, somewhere in the park, who would be just typing on their calculators! And you want to know what we did to them? I guess the game is different now. Everybody is typing on their calculators!
I'm tired of listening to these nerds tell me what to think. The next time someone invents a VORP-like statistical nerdgasm, please kill baseball, and take me with it. Here's a hint, stat nerds: A + B = shut the up!
Going the Distance-
If a quarterback can get nearly knocked unconscious multiple times by 300-pound defensive ends for four full quarters, then why shouldn’t a pitcher have to throw a ball 60 feet for a full nine innings—especially if that pitcher is making millions of dollars a year? Instead he gets pulled before things can go from bad to worse, and fans go nutty when the song they voted for plays over the loudspeakers and their star closer comes out of the bullpen like Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in Major League. And don’t even get me started on “The Papelbon.” If I wanted to do an Irish dance, I would go to Irishia.
Evoke God in public schools, at any bar, or even on national television and you’re likely to be shown the door. Yet baseball fans collectively acknowledge a higher power that influences their favorite teams and players. The Red Sox actually believe that in 1919 the Greek God Of Walks, Kevin Youkilis, decided to curse the Sox by trading away his play in order to fund Babe Ruth, who went to the Yankees.
Baseball is a year-round sport and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Between charity events, trades, management shake-ups, and stadium upgrades, teams and the media make it painfully clear: You will think about baseball 360 days a year—OR ELSE! But the league occasionally throws us a bone with some quality off-season entertainment like a six-hour Senate hearing. Now that’s excitement! Football is nothing like that. It just gets boring after a while.....