Baseball Is the Greatest Game Ever Invented: Why Bob Costas Is Wrong

Joe MContributor IOctober 30, 2009

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees reacts after striking out against Pedro Martinez #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Two of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on October 29, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I am so sick of ESPN telling me how football is better than baseball. Recently I read Bob Costas' book, Fair Ball . I have to say, it made me ill.

I realize it was written a number of years ago now, but he makes so many arguments that I believe have come to be proven wrong that I almost feel like I wasted my time reading it.

One of the contentions he makes is that Baseball is no longer America's past time, and he insinuates that baseball is to blame. In fact he says baseball is broke. Here's my one word response: Hogwash.

Now, don’t turn me off yet. I actually agree that there are probably more Americans watching football than baseball. Personally, I watch both. I enjoy baseball more than football, but that is my preference. Just because more people turn the TV on for football doesn't make football better than baseball.

I would submit that what attracts more people to football is the lack of a need to understand the mental side of the game to enjoy football.

Don't misunderstand me here, I'm not saying that there isn't a mental side to the game of football; I am saying that most average football fans don't understand it. To truly appreciate baseball you have to understand the mental side of the game or you're done.

Most people, in my opinion watch football because they want to see someone get the snot kicked out of them. Baseball is art. Baseball brings more to the table.

In short I believe that Football by and large is more popular in America because America is dumber than it was 50 years ago. Our standardized test scores would certainly seem to prove my point.

I enjoy football, I love the Steelers. I can tell you every QB that played for them from Bradshaw to Ben. I'm not knocking football. I'm just saying that Costas' book is flawed and the media's mad dash to cry how the game is broken is wrong.

Baseball is still a beautiful thing. Baseball brings things to the table that other sports don't.

Let's take my beloved Steelers for instance. What has been their game plan in the past? Get the lead, run the ball five million times. 

In baseball what happens when you get the lead? You still have to give the other team a chance to score for however many outs they still have coming. There is no running the ball into the line and keeping it out of their hands. You actually have to give the ball to their offense and let them take their swings.

It's conceivable in football that you could get the lead with six or seven minutes to go in the game and never give the ball back to the other team's offense.

Another reason why the average person might not be turning to baseball today is the microwave effect. Our's is the only generation to set the microwave to cook our meal and tap our fingers as we wait expectantly for it to cook, the whole time rolling our eyes because it's taking too long.

Bill Veeck said, “This is a game to be savored, not gulped.  There's time to discuss everything between pitches or between innings."

Good baseball is about relationship. One of the buzzwords today is community. Baseball builds community. 

It's not an up and down sport, it's not 10 guys jumping at each other so one guy can run around the corner for a few yards. It is a game that is as much about the anticipation as it is about the actual happening.

How many of your favorite memories for baseball involve sitting on the edge of your couch or standing in a screaming stadium, with everyone around you offering their opinion on what is going to happen next? Throw a fastball! Hit a home run! Throw a change up to induce a soft ground ball to second.

Will the batter be the next Kirby Puckett, or the next chump? Baseball is about what might happen, what could happen as much as it is about what does happen.

I just watched a show tonight that talked about what if Steve Bartman hadn't caught that foul ball in the NLCS. Perhaps, a better question from that game is what if Alex Gonzales had handled the ground ball to him?

Baseball requires more of the fan. And it should be that way. If nothing else this whole steroids fiasco proves that anytime baseball gets too fixated on the Glitz it turns on itself and tarnishes its rich past.

Simply put, it is easier to sit and watch a football game and cheer. You can be loaded out of your mind and still figure it out. Not a lot of nuances that the average fan has to pick up in order to be that into it.

Now, I’ve been to my share of games that involved drunken baseball fans. I’m not trying to attack football here as much as I am attempting to defend baseball.

Does Major League Baseball have problems? Of course, any business does. But all the Chicken Little’s in the media need to pipe down and enjoy the game. Get steroids out, let the rest alone.

If baseball is losing some of America, it’s probably OK.

In a generation that has to have the “right now” effect, baseball just doesn’t offer that and it shouldn’t. Besides all other arguments, I am reminded of an age-old cliché: “Variety is the spice of life.”

With no more than five games left in this series and season, I for one will continue to cheer for the greatest sport ever invented.