I come from a baseball-loving family, so I put myself at considerable physical and emotional risk by saying this.
Baseball is not a sport.
Sure, there are arguments on both sides, but after a closer look, it’s become as obvious as the giant tobacco bulge between your cheek and gum. Baseball is a game, a pastime, a form of entertainment, but not a sport.
Here’s why: You don’t have to be an athlete to play it. You can be old, overweight and out of shape and still do a good enough job to garner a million-dollar contract. (I say that with envy.)
To be a sport, baseball players must qualify as athletes. Well, are baseball players athletes? No, they are not. In a 2013 study done by the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, a wide array of experts in the field including exercise physiologists and high-level athletic trainers were surveyed to see who was considered the fittest athletes in sports, based on this definition: An athlete must possess cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength and endurance, balance, power, flexibility, agility and physical skills. Here’s what they found:
Decathletes, boxers, tennis players, and Mixed Martial Arts practitioners were among the top-ranked athletes, followed in fourth place by “skill position” pro football players (meaning running backs, wide receivers, and cornerbacks), and then basketball players in fifth. Next in line were hockey players, then soccer.
Big shocker: Pro golfers and baseball players didn’t even make the list. Exercise physiologist Dr. Jeffrey A. Potteiger put it this way: “You could be a very good baseball player but not necessarily be a good athlete.”
Between the curse words that are no doubt machine-gunning from your lips, you’re saying that “There are immense skill and precision in baseball!” Yes, there is! Like in chess, darts, poker, and UNO. But nobody calls them a sport.
On the surface, it holds great promise. The stadium, the crowds, even the uniforms mislead us, with their stretchy fabric, and menacing cleats. The outfit screams, “Shit’s about to get real!” But then, it never does. You can stand an entire game, and not have a ball hit to you. Since you only bat once every nine players, you may not get up to bat either. Just three hours of advanced standing around. (Which is why you can play two baseball games in one day.)
Some consider baseball to be roughly equivalent to the elevator music of sports. It’s reminiscent of a sport but makes you hunger for the real thing. Others concede there are moments of excitement, likening baseball to the work of air traffic controllers or emergency medical professionals: long periods of doing nothing interrupted by moments of sheer panic. Either way, still not a sport. Perhaps you should pursue a new pastime, like soccer - we can't recommend football since Americans are giving up football for soccer - but you get the idea.
Goodbye, my baseball-loving family, we had a nice long run.