Are you a fan of winter sport looking for something to get angry about over the summer? Maybe you’re getting tired of your normal sport(s). Maybe you’re just looking for something new, another team to add to your collection. Baseball has acquired an unfair reputation as boring, but, as an avid fan of pretty much any sport I sit myself down in front of, I’m here to put forth my thoughts on why you should give “America’s pastime” a chance to win your heart.
1. It’s not over ‘til it’s over – tired of teams with a 1-0 lead shielding the ball in a corner?
Most team sports have some kind of limit, usually time, that will eventually run out on one team. In order to win a game of baseball, you have to get your opponents out 27 times. To do that, you need to keep throwing the other team legal, hittable pitches that could, in theory, lead to an infinite number of runs.
The Quarterback can’t take a knee, and the field cant be put out to the boundaries, and so any team, facing any deficit, still has a chance to win, as long as they have 1 out remaining. This keeps the tension and excitement alive to the last second in ways other sports don’t.
It’s also at least partly responsible for the birth of a position on the team unlike almost any other in sports: the Closer. He’s a pitcher set aside for only the most high pressure situations, and every appearance is assured of some drama.
It isn’t just individual games, though. In a 16 game season, what goes around might not necessarily come around. A baseball season is 162 games, however, and this acts as a great leveler. In 2012, 86% of MLB’s 30 teams finished with a win percentage from 40-60. Clearly, a much closer competition then the NFL (28%) or NBA (43%).
That means seasons going right down to the wire, with none but the very top teams assured of the playoffs, while few but the very worst are eliminated until the bitter end. This season-ending spectacle has only become more ferocious with MLB recently expanding the playoffs to include a 2nd wildcard team.
2. Statistics – no, seriously, don’t leave yet. Just hear me out.
As I mentioned above, a baseball season is 162 games. That’s a lot, by any standards. Games come thick and fast, each team playing nearly every day. You don’t have to be away for long to miss a lot. Tracking a player or team’s stats is a quick and easy way to keep up with what’s going on.
Of all popular professional sports, baseball might lend itself to these kinds of stats better than any. Even some of the most simplistic of stats can be very useful for evaluation – if a player has hit a lot of home runs, or gets a hit more often than most. The same can be said for a pitcher with a low Earned Run Average, a measure of how many runs he allows per innings pitched.
If that’s as far into things as you want to go, then those numbers will keep you happy and informed. Just don’t go shouting about them too loudly in certain parts of the internet.
For those more statistically inclined, you can go exactly as deep into it as you wish. Many fantastic stats are already coming into common use: park factors, for comparison of players playing most of their games in different sized stadia; improved measures of fielding; and even quantifications of luck. All of these, and more, are available to enhance your viewing experience. You know, if that’s your thing. Just don’t go shouting about them too loudly in certain parts of the real world.