Baseball: The Only True Team Sport
by Bennett Quillen
Well folks, here is my diatribe on the shortfalls of professional team sports other than baseball. I know my comments will upset pro football fans; so apologies to the followers of the Broncos, Packers and Patriots.
Baseball is a true team sport and not a game built on the false sense of time pressure. There are nine innings, and you play them all. It has its own unique tensions with a myriad of variables; examples are: men on base, at different bases, different batters, number of outs, ball and strike count on batters, whether the pitcher is right or left-handed, the pitcher’s repertoire, how a pitcher and each batter confront each other, batter with or without men on base, batter’s history against a specific team, potential bunting situation, base stealing, double steal, hit and run.
There are nearly an infinite panoply of possible actions (much like a chess game), coupled with several required skills (catch, jump or leap, throw, run, bat). Baseball demonstrates a unique blend of individual effort (fielding, pitching and batting) with team playing (sacrifice bunt or fly out, turning a double play, spikes up when sliding into second base to prevent a double play). Baseball also requires mental and emotional stamina. It is indeed the best of all team sports. Plus, the nine players play offense and defense, and you don’t have to be some form of Neanderthal man; in fact, it is best if you are around 6 ft. and 185 # or even smaller.
My only complaints about baseball are: the lowered the pitcher’s mound from 15 to 10 in. in ’68 and introduction of the DH in the ‘70s.
Take kickball (oops soccer): the less said the better about folks that run up and down a field playing kickball with little strategic and tactical skills, getting pulled out for sprained ankles (poor darlings), and only needing the ability to run and kick — boring!
Football (American) really only requires one to run and be a 250 # felon. Other than the quarterback and receivers (and perhaps running backs), the only skill you need is the ability to run and bludgeon someone into submission. Plus you have two teams – offense and defense, so that the poor fellows don’t get too tired. And, lastly: there is the false sense of pressure from a clock and how well you play the clock, not the game.
College basketball is better: at least the same set of fellows play offense and defense. But, you have to be at least 6 ft. 7 in. to make an impact. And, only three skills: dribble, shoot and jump. Again, the false sense of time pressure is always present.
I will not even comment on hockey.
And I honestly don’t know enough about Rugby to comment. On the surface it seems better than football and soccer. But, it too is played under a time clock.
So, bring on spring; I am ready for a real team sport: baseball!