There’s been a lot of conjecture over the years as to why I, baseball, am failing, or at the very least falling behind the NFL, the NBA and even NCAA football. There are plenty of reasons the so-called experts have attributed to this. Some are legitimate, others are more speculative, but the pervasive theory, the one that seems to have captured the most attention, even of my own commissioners, is that I am slow. The complaint is that watching me involves too much waiting. There are too many delays. The pace is insufferable, and the lack of action is a boring television experience. As the NBA and NHL seasons are coming to a close, and we are still over a hundred days away from the first kick off of the NFL season, soon all you will be left with is me, baby.
See, here’s the thing. I’ve been around for over a hundred years. Your great grandfather loved me, your granddaddy loved me, you’re old man loved me, and you can love me too, you just haven’t realized it yet. You’re an American, and I know you better than you know yourself. You think you want the NFL, that elusive perfect 10, but she only comes around on the weekends for a few hours. You think you want the NBA, the supermodel that will dance on the tabletops at 2am to shut down the bar, but you realize there are only a few good ones out there, and they live in Oakland and Cleveland. You think you want NCAA football, the sorority girl who is fun, but riddled with scandal and corruption. No, what you really want is me, because I’ll always be there for you. I’m your ride-or die. I’m the t-shirt and jeans, girl next door, She’s All That, who has been there all along. You just need to take off my glasses and let me shake out my hair from under this beat up baseball cap.
I offer you eighty one chances to come see me in your hometown. That’s twice what your hoops team gives you and it’s ten times that of your beloved NFL. I give you the best in-person experience for your money, by far. My parks are unique and interesting and every one is worth visiting. I’m the only girl that can hang with you and your friends on a summer night and kick back with a cold one. For seven months of the year, I’m with you almost nightly.
That’s the other thing. I’m not high maintenance. I don’t need you to babysit me every play like some other sports, but there’s more to me that just those last two exciting minutes, if you know what I mean. Go ahead, get a beer, fire up the grill, play a game of corn hole or horseshoes, I’ll be here when you get back. I’m the soundtrack of your summer. Throw me on the radio during a cook out, or on the beach. My announcers are legendary; you’ll know when something is going down.
Don’t get me wrong, even though I don’t need a lot of attention, I’m deep and interesting and thoughtful. Ever hear of Rotisserie Baseball? Yeah, it’s the forefather of your precious Fantasy Football, that crapshoot you donate money to every season. Rotisserie requires real knowledge and strategy, not that auto draft lottery that parades itself as a contest of skill for the NFL season.
Entertainment and pop culture? Please! Name me a football or basketball movie that rivals the films on this list.
But maybe I need to stop defending myself. I’ve tried to change for you. I’ve sacrificed my charm and my personality for you. I’ve added your instant replay from football. I’ve added your play clock from the NFL and NBA. I’ve added interleague play to try and entice you. Maybe you just don’t see my value. Maybe you’re bored because you aren’t using your brain enough. You’re so used to watching barbarians smash into one another that you can’t see the subtle chess matches that are entrenched in every at bat. You’re frustration with pitching changes shows your lack of appreciation for how a manager handles his bullpen and the strategy that extends beyond that singular game where moves made tonight have ramifications for the entire week or month. You’re frustration with my umpires shows your willingness to remove layers of intrigue from my games leaving a black and white video game husk in its wake. Your annoyance with the length of my season and the devaluing of individual games speaks to your thirst for parity and randomness to have a factor in crowning champions.
Perhaps instead of trying to fix me, an institution that is woven into the fabric of the American flag, that has history and records, that sparked the imagination of our fathers and father’s fathers, we should fix our society. Learn to look a little deeper, be a little more patient, absorb and soak in events rather than watch them hoping for immediate gratification. Maybe you need to learn about history instead of looking for the next thing all the time.
So that’s it?
I guess we are done.
Irreconcilable differences for right now?
You know I’m not giving back that hoodie, right?
Well, I’ll be here while you sow your wild oats.
I will wait until you grow up and realize you’ve been an idiot,
and like an idiot myself, of course, I’ll take you back.