If you’re like any normal human specimen, you probably find baseball incredibly boring – it might be akin to watching grass grow or paint dry. In fact, it may be the perfect thing for you to turn on when you hit the couch after a long day and all you really want is a nice, relaxing nap. Trust me, I get it. From the outside looking in, baseball is a bore…a yawner, if you will. It’s just a bunch of guys wearing tight pants who are literally just standing around picking daisies. There may be short periods of slight amusement for you, but those are easily drowned out by the continuous, crippling lag.
To make matters worse, you’re watching a game that doesn’t matter… there’s 162 of them! Who cares about what happens? Also, if you’re a regular sports fan, you probably hate that Sports Center is about to be riddled with baseball highlights, ruining you’re once surefire escape at the end of each day.
My friend, I totally understand. Not to worry though, I’m here to save the day! After all, that’s my job. I’m here to say that if you’ve never really given the MLB a chance, PLEASE DO! I beg you, I implore you. Here’s why:
Each game is full of nuances. I know it may take a lot of energy to (uh oh) look at the details of something. It’s much easier to watch some gargantuan punch the living daylights out of another. The ladder provides immediate entertainment. However, the former takes a lot more effort, but, thankfully, expending that extra energy pays high dividends. Why? Think about the things you love most in life. What is it that you love so much about them? Is it their overall greatness? Or, is it every little, minute detail? Take a lover for example – you know, the one that drives you CRAZY! I’m sure it’s every small detail that turns you on, rather than the person as a whole. Ah hah! I got ya thinkin’! In order to truly appreciate something, you gotta dig the small stuff, and the small stuff is what baseball is all about. The pitcher/batter chess games, the calls from the coaches, the substitutions, the mind games, the shifts in the defense, the varying techniques, the differences in the parks…I could literally go on and on. Do me a favor and really watch an MLB game. Look for the details, analyze & interpret, make your own predictions, and…enjoy! Lastly, pay close attention to the intensity of the game. Although the game might seem nonchalant at first, if you really pay attention, you’ll find that the game is super intense. Every little thing that goes on is calculated and certainly has a purpose. The more baseball you watch and the more closely you analyze, the more you will come to appreciate it! I guarantee it, or your money back.
Unlike virtually every other sport, throughout the regular season, baseball teams play in mini-series instead of the usual one game – usually three games and occasionally four. Again, this may seem boring at first, but in reality, it makes the game much more exciting. Since baseball is a game where anyone can win on any given day, three games gives you a better idea of who the better team is. Also, it’s amazing to see the adjustments teams make against each other from one day to the next.
3. Season Length and Playoffs
Initially, a 162 game season may seem like overkill, to say the least. But, the beauty is that only four teams from each league make the playoffs. This means that the regular season ACTUALLY MATTERS! In the NBA and NHL, the regular seasons are half as many games as the MLB’s, but 8 teams from each conference make the playoffs, meaning that over half of the teams make the postseason. Because NBA and NHL teams don’t play everyday, their regular seasons actually last almost as long as the MLB’s; the only difference is that the regular season doesn’t mean anything. I enjoy watching basketball and hockey, but I constantly find myself turned off by the fact that a given regular season game is worthless. To add insult to injury, the playoffs become extremely long and drawn out, making them not even that enjoyable. Baseball, even though it’s a long season, always seems to come down to a game or two. Players know this, and they play like it. The most surefire way to get into the playoffs in the MLB is to win your division, as there’s only one wildcard (unlike the NBA and NHL, where there’s five). So, watching all the division battles down the stretch is very entertaining. When it comes to the playoffs, there’s nothing better. There’s only three rounds, making it twice as fast as basketball and hockey. So, the atmosphere is electric, and the strategy gets elevated to astronomical levels.
4. Minor Leagues and Skill Level
The skill level in baseball is outstanding. Baseball is truly one of the toughest sports to compete in, and the level of skill between the big leagues and college/high school is incalculable. Because of this, we have the minor leagues! Within the minor leagues, there are several different levels. Baseball might be one of the easiest sports to turn pro in (because the minor leagues are professional), but, on the same token, it has to be one of the most difficult sports to actually make it to the big show simply because the level of talent is out of this world. Honestly, one of the most exciting parts of being a baseball fan is following prospects. There’s nothing like studying prospects, making predictions about them, and then seeing them come up to the bigs and perform. The top prospects ALL have to prove themselves before they make it to the MLB, and there’s no ridiculous contracts for anyone until they are actually proven.
5. Trade Deadline and 40-Man Roster
The trade deadline in baseball is more exciting than any other, as teams are making moves for now and for the future. Big names are dealt, prospects are dealt – it’s always interesting to watch. What’s even better than the trade deadline itself is what happens immediately after. After the trade deadline, MLB rosters expand to 40 people instead of the usual 25. This allows teams to, once again, strategize to the max. Also, we get a glimpse of what the beloved prospects look like in the MLB. With the rosters increasing so much, “September call ups” occur, in which teams bring their prospects to the big show to see how they do. We get to look at all the raw youngsters and gain an idea of who’s for real. Also, when the playoffs begin, all the rosters shrink back to 25, and teams cannot call up or demote anyone during the postseason, meaning that coaches are ultimately choosing a single roster for the playoffs. This makes things interesting, as not only are teams battling for the playoffs, but players are competing for a spot on the beloved playoff roster. Every year, we see prospects or other players make the postseason lineup who we never expected.
6. Dynasties and Salary Cap
Most people hate baseball for this reason. Personally, I love it! Baseball is full of tradition, and dynasties are one of those traditions. The teams with huge markets, like New York and Boston, have huge payrolls, while other teams, well, don’t. Sure, it’s not “fair” but who cares? Life is not fair! Teams with huge bankrolls often spend too much on big names and don’t pay attention to growing talent in their farm, which is usually their demise, as we saw with the Yankees over the past decade. Once the Yankees finally starting growing their own talent, they actually won the world series. As for the small teams, it’s their job to do it the REAL WAY. Scout players, develop their talent, refine them. Out-coach and out-strategize the monetary giants. Do this, and you’re set. We saw it with the Tampa Bay Rays, who had one of the smallest bankrolls in the league, yet still beat out the Yankees and the Red Sox for the division. I LOVE rooting for those teams – everyone loves to see the home-grown teams take it to the big dogs. Also, with the lack of salary cap, there’s less player movement. We see guys stay on their teams for years and years, which always makes things more exciting than seeing household names put on a different uniform every year.
Honestly people, I could list so many more, but I believe that’s enough. The point of all this: GIVE BASEBALL A CHANCE! Watch it, analyze it, become a student of it. Trust me, you will not be sorry. Instead, you’ll find that you’ll become addicted in no time, and your appreciation will never die!