NFL vs. MLB vs. NBA (MLB’s case)

In Sports on December 8, 2011 at 2:22 pm

by:  Eric Buenning (featuring Josh Koebert)

As promised, here is Josh making his case for baseball being the best sport.

Major League Baseball is the best league because baseball is the best sport.


Baseball is intertwined with our culture and our history in a way that no other sport can compare to. The names of historic players like Cy Young and Babe Ruth are still household names, decades after their careers ended. The history of the game is so entrenched in our consciousness that those born in the past 25 years still instantly recognize the significance of the years 1908 and 1919 because of baseball, and the numbers 755, 3,000, and 56 all hold significance exceeding the statistical peaks of other sports.


And that cultural link bleeds over into our media. Think about the best sports movies of all time. How many are about basketball? Hoosiers and White Men Can’t Jump spring to mind. How about football? Remember the Titans, The Longest Yard, Brian’s Song, hell, even Friday Night Lights are all up there. But then baseball blows those sports out of the water, both in quantity and quality. Bull Durham, A League of Their Own, Field of Dreams, The Bad News Bears, The Sandlot, Eight Men Out, The Natural, Pride of the Yankees, Bang the Drum Slowly. All classic sports movies, all about baseball, because baseball has a greater connection with our culture and what it means to be an American sports fan than any other sport.


The stadiums make Major League Baseball unique in sports as well. In football and basketball the fields and courts are all uniform throughout the league, but baseball allows customization. The ivy at Wrigley, the Big Green Monster, Tal’s Hill in Houston, all add to the game experience and set their respective stadiums apart. Plus, Major League Baseball has two of the top sporting cathedrals in existence, in Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.


But even looking beyond the historic cultural impact of baseball, the quality of Major League Baseball today is incredible. While the league needed the eye-popping offense of the steroid era to move past a work stoppage, they have now found a happy medium where the game is still incredibly entertaining even without performance enhancers.


The league provides something for every type of fan. Want to watch quality pitching? Just turn on the San Francisco Giants. Prefer gaudy offensive numbers? Try the Texas Rangers. Want both? Go with the Philadelphia Phillies.


And for sheer drama nothing tops Major League Baseball in October. Fans around the country hang on every pitch, and as games go into late innings nerves get to the point that you think you’ll have a heart attack. A great example of this was the ridiculously entertaining game six of the 2011 World Series. Down to their last strike in both the 9th and 10th innings, St. Louis found a way to battle back and win the game in of the most exciting fashions in all of sports, the walk-off home run.


And while baseball players aren’t the best athletes (see: Kruk, John), they do perform some of the most difficult tasks in all of sports. Hitting a round ball with a round bat is often cited as the most difficult thing to do in sports, and major leaguers do it with the difficulty set all the way to 11. Big league pitchers often throw in the mid 90s, and from less than 100 feet away. The fact that players EVER hit the ball, much less with as much success as big leaguers do, is amazing.


And then the fans. Baseball is a sport that makes it’s fans think, by virtue of the downtime that some cite as “boring.” In response to this, baseball fans have adapted and found new ways to add to the sport as a whole. They commit to the intellectual side of the game, thinking about strategy while keeping their own scorecards. And if they don’t feel like doing that, they devote their efforts to getting in the heads of the opposing team. The Bleacher Bums at Wrigley are sometimes derided by fans of other teams, but players all speak of the insane level of research and preparation they put into their heckling, something other sports fans don’t do on a consistent basis.


Currently, MLB is the biggest professional sports league not to suffer from labor strife as well. While the NFL and NBA experienced messy lockouts this year, Major League Baseball players and owners were happily enjoying a profitable and entertaining season.


Major League Baseball is experiencing increased popularity every year, as are most major sports, but while those other sports are experiencing new peaks of popularity, baseball remains America’s pastime, a game that has held a position atop the American sporting landscape for over a century.


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