Baseball is the sport for smart people

My friend Glenn Beaton had a column where he encouraged people to leave off watching pro sports because the players have put politics ahead of play.  I agree on that but did have an issue with his comments on baseball as boring.

For my money, if you don't like baseball, the fault is in you, not the game.  Its true that for lovers of fast action, baseball doesn't cut it.  But for those who appreciate competition at the fine margins, where the mental matters as much as or more than the physical, baseball's your game.

It's more cerebral than other sports partly because of its slower pace.  That's mostly because of the contest between pitcher and hitter.  Warren Spahn said, "Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing."  With today's cameras, we see this better than fans ever could before — the change of speeds, the importance of location, the help of a savvy catcher, the crucial role of an umpire who really understands the strike zone and can follow a moving ball at high speeds.

Baseball is also perhaps more individual than any major sport but tennis.  The action begins with the pitcher, alone, throwing the ball.  Then the hitter, alone, hits the ball.  The fielder, alone, makes the play.  Errors can't be missed because of the overall one-guy-at-a-time, consecutive-action-over-concurrent-mob-action design of the game.  It's all out in the open.  You made the play or you muffed it.

Again, if you're not into thinking sports, baseball's not your game.  But if you are — oh, the beauty of a Greg Maddux 76-pitch, 9-inning complete game or a Whitey Ford 13-hit shutout or Rod Carew dropping an unplayable bunt or a wily outfielder decoying a runner or a perfectly thrown slider just nipping the corner low-and-away before falling completely out of the zone.  These plays transfix the knowledgeable observer; they go right over the head of the guy who appreciates only fast action.

And there's this: you don't have to watch spoiled rich kids play.  You can catch a good game at a local diamond.  It does take some searching, though, to find the competitive leagues versus the ones where everybody gets to play and nobody's feelings get hurt.  I grew up in Kansas City, where the 3&2 League provided good competition even in the younger age brackets.  You can find and follow teams all the way through the local championships and enjoy baseball to your heart's content.

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