[opinion] Baseball is better than your favorite sport, here’s why

Avery Rosas, Sports Editor

The new narrative among American sports fans is that baseball is a drawn-out, confusing and boring game that is on the brink of irrelevance. The problem? They’re wrong. While it’s reasonable to say that baseball seemed to hit a rut in the early-mid 2010’s with major offensive downtrends and pitching inclines, that doesn’t mean that we should all discard the sport as “boring” or “uncool”.

It is the mini-era of baseball which featured world-class prospect drafts, prompting the emergence of all of today’s megastars. Along with a new class of talent, they brought with them the new and improved style of play; a style packed to the brim with emotion and tradition-breaking characteristics.

The flip of a bat following a crucial home run. The menacing howl of a pitcher upon the end of a tense, successful inning. The overwhelming roar of a home crowd. Baseball is back-and it doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.

A staple claim in the argument against baseball is the abundance of “unnecessary gameplay”, in-between or compiled around the action plays of a game. However, things that a casual or first-time viewer may not understand is that every single part of a game contributes to the entire outcome of the game or an entire season. Things like pitcher-batter matchups, division or award races, as well as the culminating tension during the later-stages of a tight game.

There’s an easy fix: look into the game. Websites like Baseball Reference and Fangraphs.com are staples to finding your way around stats, relevant news articles and common knowledge about the sport. 

And, of course, media outlets like Twitter and Instagram have enormous accounts centered around specific team followings and baseball news in general. The largest non MLB-affiliated account is Jomboy Media, with his funny yet insightful breakdowns of the game, would be a great start. 

A caveat that surrounds baseball is the inconsistent flow of interaction that you find in games like basketball and hockey. However, for whatever it lacks, it rebounds with quite possibly the most nuance-based structure and style of any game in the world. The cause of this being, there is no time constraint to a baseball game.

Sure, there will always be 9 straight innings of bats and balls, but it doesn’t necessarily have to end there. From beginning to end, every pitch and every swing is a race to get more runs than their opponent while recording 27 outs. And here we are, back at our first dilemma. The little things, the big things, and the miscellaneous all carry the weight of deciding between a win and a loss, first or second place in a division, an MVP winner or a runner-up.

At this point you’re probably thinking to yourself, “He hasn’t talked about all that ‘bat flipping’ or ‘action’ yet.” So, let me finish. Take the uniform off of any player of another sport and they pale in comparison to anything baseball has featured. 

The interlocking N and Y of a Yankees hat have made their transition from sports apparel to a staple fashion accessory. Same can be said about a Dodgers hat, whose iconic style has quite literally coined its own color, “Dodger blue.”

This apparel allowed the prodigies of the game to create themselves in their own image on the field, the personality of a player ensembled to create a gold-chained, stirrup-socked, vans-cleated baseball machine. 

Wearing what makes you confident leads to you being more open in the box or on the bump, and all that swagger leads to what you would call “action.” If you ever need an example, simply direct your attention to MLB’s poster boy for swag: Fernando Tatis Jr.

Shortstop and megastar for the San Diego Padres, he matches his swagger with outrageous talent and athleticism, making almost anything he does a highlight play. He’s only 22, so he’ll hopefully be around for a lot longer. And just as the seasoned-youth once enshrined Derek Jeter, the children of today will remember his name: Fernando.

It’s true for every sport that there will be those who are not convinced. Baseball, generally, isn’t a game that people will watch for the first time and be entertained. Confusion, boredom and frustration await anyone who takes the one-time free trial for an intricate and detailed game like baseball.

Aforementioned sports like basketball and hockey are exactly the type of games that you can try out and be engaged in. Hockey’s fast pace and, quite frankly, violent yet tough style of play permits the audience to feel connected almost the whole time. That’s where it all lies, however. Surface level.

This is where baseball steps in. Football is regarded as a top-tier American action sport with “fun and more engaging” gameplay. Once again, surface level. A closer look shows us that the average length of an MLB game, combined with ads and fan interaction, is 3 hours and 8 minutes. 

Compare that to an NFL game, which ends up averaging 3 hours and 12 minutes and can even run longer with extended ad breaks; all while having a structured time clock that’s supposed to deliberately ensure that games run for their allotted time. 

A calculated average of “true action” in MLB and NFL games was taken and compared per a WSJ study, and found that MLB games have averaged 18 minutes of meaningful play, while NFL games add up to… 11 minutes. Isn’t that pretty nifty? I think so.

Every time they have said it, they have been wrong. Baseball eagerly offers knowledge, patience, and swag to all, and it’s an offer I find pretty hard to pass up on. Little by little, baseball is taking back what it used to call its own, the title of America’s Sport. 

Fernando Tatis Jr, Ronald Acuna Jr, Juan Soto and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The pioneers of the next generation of baseball fandom have years left to be played and special moments yet to be seen, and they’re all barely getting started. I’d start watching now, you won’t want to miss a single thing these guys do.

 So, with that I leave you with my own oppressing anxiousness; my hope that more will find their way to the sport beyond a sport. The thinking game, the never-ending yet ever-enduring, frustrating and unforgiving game. The beautiful game.