CHARLOTTE, NC, July 5, 2017 – It seems that the Major League All-Star Game has been hyped more this year than any time in recent memory. Time was when baseball had a legitimate claim to being the “national pastime” but somewhere in the mid to late 1960s football took over and never looked back.
But every sport is different and there can be little argument that baseball is better suited to the mid-season all-star match than any other game. Year in and year out, baseball gets slammed that it has become an anachronism in a 21st century world.
“Too slow” or “irrelevant” or “it can’t keep up with the times,” they say. The expression also goes, “It is what it is.”
So why does baseball have to be faster, or more aggressive? Look at the uniqueness of the game and how it differs from other mainstream sports.
Baseball is played on a diamond rather than a rectangle. There is no clock in baseball. Every ball park is different in the outfield yet every park is the same in the infield. Distances between bases and from home plate to the mound are as perfectly adjusted to human qualities as any other sport and have not changed in more than a century. Baseball is played by people of all sizes and shapes, not by freaks of nature who are skyscrapers or with gargantuan physiques; it is a human game played on a human scale.
Distances between bases and from home plate to the mound are as perfectly adjusted to human qualities as any other sport and have not changed in more than a century. Baseball is played by people of all sizes and shapes, not by freaks of nature who are skyscrapers or with gargantuan physiques; it is a human game played on a human scale.
Does it really matter if the pace of baseball is slower than other games? Or is that simply part of its charm.
Are the attention spans of sports lovers so short they cannot sit still without having a flying bug drop tee shirts in their laps, or an organ blaring in their ears every time there’s a break in the action? Do we need mascot races or free throws from half court or any number of other gimmicks to fill time and seats?
Sure a baseball game can be boring? So can a blowout in football, basketball, hockey or a two-zero game in soccer.
Try timing the downtime in a football game against that of a baseball game. You might be surprised at how little action there is in football. Baseball has natural breaks in the game. When a team gets another team to make three outs, they go to a commercial and by the time the ads are over, it’s time for the next pitch.
When a team gets another team to make three outs, they go to a commercial and by the time the ads are over, it’s time for the next pitch.
Not true in football. A team scores a touchdown and there’s a four minute break before the ensuing kick-off which results in (if we’re lucky) ten seconds of action before going to another four minute commercial break. Ten seconds of football action max in an 8 1/2 minute period, and they say baseball is slow.
When was the last time you saw a football game that went less than 3 1/2 hours? In modern times, both football and baseball take about 3 hours to play.
In modern times, baseball takes about 3 hours to play.
College basketball is constructed so there are regular commercial breaks after every 4, 8, 12 and 16 minutes. Good coaches learn very quickly how to save their own time-outs so they can utilize the TV time-outs to their advantage. Does anyone truly believe that such breaks do nor often effect the momentum of a game?
Does anyone truly believe that such breaks do not affect the momentum of a game?
Perhaps nothing has disrupted the rhythm of all sports in recent years more than official reviews. Football, both college and pro, have become so mired in rules, it is virtually impossible for anyone to know them all. Which leads to the question of why bother to have referees or umpires if video is going to be the ultimate determining factor?
“We’ve got to get it right,” say the experts. However, even with replay they don’t always “get it right.” The inevitable is on the horizon. Referees and umpires will one day be replaced by machines and then just because “we needed to get it right” much of the fun, the human factor, will be eliminated from sports.
Baseball executives have been attempting to speed up their sport for decades and nothing has worked. This year they removed the intentional walk to make it automatic, and games still last over 3 hours.
The truth is, the only way to speed up baseball is to quicken the amount of time pitchers take between pitches. Two fast working pitchers can eliminate 30 to 45 minutes from the pace of a game, and a baseball game played in two hours and 30 minutes is pure joy to watch.
On the other hand, a fan of any sport who pays his money and goes to a game to drink $8 beer and eat $5 hot dogs should savor every minute of the game they are watching.
Love the games people play for what they are. Let baseball be slow if it wants, or basketball to be played in the trees, or football to be like gladiator contests in ancient Rome.
After all, isn’t that why they call them sports?
About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his journeys around the world
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