Well, the Braves lost last night, bringing an end to what was shaping up to be a very interesting MLB wild-card race. I was sorry to see that happen, but I'll be honest with you: My interest in baseball, which was once reasonably high, has been waning steadily for years now. I guess that when the Braves stopped winning pennants like clockwork every single season, it kind of opened my eyes to a hard truth -- baseball, as a sport, just isn't that exciting. I mean, I still love the Braves and will root for them no matter what, but outside of that and the College World Series I just can't get into it. Both the gameday experience and the game itself have a lot of fundamental flaws, and with my investment in the baseball season more or less concluded with the Braves' loss, now seems like as good a time as any to explain them: This week's +5 is Five Reasons Baseball Is Inferior To Football.
The field layout is all weird and runs completely counter to the concept of a competitive, binary sport
Think about it: In football, baseball, and even hockey, you've got two teams who start at one side of the playing area and who are trying to move in generally linear fashion toward the opposite side of the field to put the ball or puck or whatever in a specific place. In baseball, however, the goal is to end up right back where you started. And you don't have the ball because the offense never touches the ball to begin with. And then you've got the fact that the playing field itself isn't even of uniform size, so what counts as a home run in one park might not count as a home run in another park. This is no way to run a sport.
There are long stretches where nothing happens
Football has timeouts and pauses for official review and that kind of thing, but other than that the action is generally constant; on every play, everybody is moving, because everybody's got a job to do, whether it's running, blocking, or trying to tackle someone. You can't have an extended conversation during a football game unless it's halftime. In baseball, though, the batter may just stand there waiting for a pitch to hit, and even if he hits it there may only be a couple guys in the outfield who are actually in a position to do anything. And because there's no game clock of any kind, everyone on the field can just take their sweet-ass time to do whatever it is they're supposed to be doing. I have long been a proponent of what I guess I'd call a "pitch clock" in major-league baseball: Once a pitcher lets the ball go, he's got 20 seconds to get off the next one. If he spends so much time fidgeting or adjusting his cap or reading bedsheet signs in the stands that the 20 seconds pass without a pitch, that's a ball. Seriously, pitcher, you've got exactly one thing you're supposed to know how to do out there, so fricking get on with it already.
Baseball is too subjective
I realize that football involves judgment calls too -- did the receiver have control of the ball before he went out of bounds, was that pass interference, where do they spot that ball, et cetera -- but for the most part it's pretty cut-and-dried. Baseball, however, involves the nebulous concept of a "strike zone," which people have attempted to define many times over (as shown above) but is ultimately still up to the discretion of an overweight white guy in an ill-fitting shirt whose entire job is to stand behind the batter and say "I think you should've been able to hit that." (I have friends who do that when I try to talk to girls at bars, and it's just as frustrating and irritating then, but I digress.) And this overweight white guy makes these judgment calls hundreds of times a game. The whole game is based around it. And again, that's no way to operate. It'd be like if a football referee said, "You just completed a pass for three yards, but against that defensive alignment you should've been able to go for a lot longer. That's a loss of downs and I'm making you do it over again."
There are 162 frickin' games
I honestly find it confounding how people get worked up over regular-season baseball games at all, at least before August, and equally confounding how MLB players manage to get motivated for them. If you're playing 162 games, who gives a rat's ass whether you lose a specific one? The NFL, however, only plays 16 games per regular season, and college teams only play 12 or 13, so every game matters. Then there's the fact that baseball must not be terribly physically taxing if you can afford to play six games a week, which goes back to the standing-around-doing-nothing point. Can you imagine what would happen if an NFL team tried to play six days a week? The players would all be in a persistent vegetative state less than a month into the season. Baseball players, on the other hand, can play six out of seven days and in many cases still stay relaxed enough to turn into complete fatasses. I can't respect that.
Granted, after a century and a quarter of professional baseball, some teams have finally seen the light and started adding the all-important element of hot chicks into the game experience -- the Atlanta Braves' Squaws, for example, all of whom seem like perfectly lovely, personable young women. But the cold, hard fact is that any good cheerleading squad involves a certain element of cleavage or otherwise-scantily-clad-ness, and as far as MLB is concerned, this seems to be something that only the Marlins Mermaids have figured out. Come on, guys, you've got to give us something to look at while everyone's standing around scratching their asses between pitches.
And now the Ten:
1. Roni Size, "Brown Paper Bag" (Photek remix)
2. N.W.A., "Fuck Tha Police"
3. R.E.M., "Daysleeper"
4. Pet Shop Boys, "Domino Dancing" (alternative version)
5. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes, "Only the Good Die Young"
6. Dave Brubeck Quartet, "Pick Up Sticks"
7. Thievery Corporation, "Focus on Sight"
8. The Pretenders, "Human"
9. Underworld, "Moaner"
10. Patton Oswalt, "Your Moment of Irony"
If you agree with the statement that baseball is superior -- or if you're a baseball fan who thinks I'm a disrespectful heretic -- share any additional arguments you might have, along with your own Random Tens, in the comments.