Jacked Up Sports
By Jack Reyering, For The Miami Student
As March turns to April and the madness winds down, America's pastime is returning from her winter hiatus. Baseball season is upon us.
For many new-age sports fans, summer is regarded as that time between basketball season and football season. In non-Olympic and World Cup years, many consider the NFL combine as the only noteworthy sporting event during the dog days.
Football has found a way to be the most relevant sport, garnering an absurd amount of coverage in the offseason. The NBA stretches its season over nine months from preseason to the playoffs.
And for whatever reason, baseball is not a popular as it used to be and no longer gets its due respect. People complain that there are too many games or it's boring to watch. It's frustrating for fans of the game, especially younger ones, to listen to these criticisms.
Kids no longer dream of playing in the big leagues. Instead, they choose to strap on helmets and pads and get an early start on developing dementia.
Let's make the case for baseball and why it is the best of the four major American sports.
One of the first things any old-time baseball fan will rant about is statistics.
There are numerous incredible feats achieved by baseball players over the past 150-plus years of the professional game. The significance of chasing and breaking records in baseball is beyond compare in other sports. There is nothing quite like being a record holder in baseball over the span of a season or the span of a career.
Records are hunted and coveted. Some are thought to be unbreakable. Cal Ripken Jr. played in 2632 consecutive games. That's 500 more games than the next player on that list, Lou Gehrig. The current leader is Manny Machado of the Orioles. He's played 162 consecutive games. Good luck with the next 2471, Manny.
Pete Rose has 4256 hits. Alex Rodriguez is the active player with the next most hits (3070). He'll only need to add another decade or so to his career to catch Rose. Every year, somebody chases a single-season record, and you don't have to be a fan of his team to cheer for him.
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Tracking statistics is one of the most enjoyable parts of professional baseball. It's unique and special to the sport and is an easy way to connect with and appreciate the game in a new way.
There's also nothing quite like going to the ballpark. You never have to bear the subzero temperatures of a Green Bay football game. If you're resourceful, you can spend less money on a ticket than you can a stadium beer. Scalpers are a dying breed. They may ask for $20 a ticket, but in reality, they'll take $5 for it.
Plus, the players deliver free souvenirs to lucky fans in the form of foul balls and home runs. Good luck trying to leave with the game ball from an NBA game.
And who doesn't love hot dogs?
The beauty of baseball lies in its simplicity. It's as close to perfect as professional team sports can get.
Did you ever stop to think where the term "pitch and catch" came from? Although rules have changed in recent years to conform to the general softness our society has come to embrace (just let them block the damn plate!), and though the MLB has drank the instant replay punch, the game is easy to follow.
You can watch it with your mother without having to answer a thousand questions. You can take your girlfriend or boyfriend to a game and simply enjoy the weather and each others' company.
Give baseball another chance. You don't have to be a diehard fan to enjoy it, and it's a welcoming break from the endless onslaught of offseason coverage of other sports.
There's nothing like an afternoon at the ballpark. And there's nothing like America's pastime.