I don't get baseball

Of all the popular sports enjoyed in the US, the one I really don't get is baseball (okay, make that NASCAR racing and baseball, but today I'm talking about baseball). I've tried watching it on TV, and I've even been to a grand total of four live games. I'll admit I only went to those games because my kids were singing the national anthem (how many parents get to say their kid got to stand on center field at a San Francisco Giants game to sing the Star Spangled Banner?). But we did stay to watch the game afterwards, and we really did try to get into the spirit of things, cheering for the Giants along with the rest of the crowd. But each time, we ended up leaving early because it went on for too long, and just couldn't hold our interest long enough.

Baseball is not a difficult sport to understand. I'm sure there are a myriad of rules that I'm not aware of, but the basics are pretty clear and simple. But there are still so many things about baseball that I don't "get":

I don't get why games have to take so long.

I don't get how some fans seem to pay more attention to their hotdogs, beer and friends than to the game (if cotton candy and peanut vendors started walking around Old Trafford during a Manchester United game, I'm convinced the fans would shoot them for blocking their view).

I don't get why they play in outfits that look like pajamas.

I don't get why so many of the supposed world-class athletes are sporting beer bellies.

I don't get why so many of the supposed world-class athletes and role models for kids throughout the US continue to chew tobacco while playing, despite calls from senators and health officials to ban chewing tobacco in the MLB.

I don't get how Major League Baseball can call its championship series the World Series, let alone crown its winner World Champion, when all the competing teams are either from the US or Canada.

Most of all, I don't get how watching grown men hit a ball with a bat and run from base to base for hours can be enjoyable. They don't even run half the time, because as soon as they hit the ball, they can tell the ball's going to be caught, or they're going to be tagged out, so they just make a halfhearted jog to first base. It seems like everyone is content to endure hours of predictability for that exciting stuff -- when someone hits a double or a home run, makes an impossible catch or steals a base -- that happens 10% of the time.

I'm probably too harsh. I've reduced baseball to hitting a ball with a bat, but you could do the same to any ball sport. If you're not a tennis fan, you could say tennis is just swatting a ball back and forth over a net. And soccer is really just kicking a ball back and forth and trying to get it into a net. People run around for 90 minutes and only manage a goal or two most of the time. Many times they don't score a goal at all -- how could that be remotely interesting?

I guess I'll just have to give baseball fans the benefit of the doubt and assume they love it as much as tennis fans love tennis, and as much as soccer fans (myself included) love soccer. Some people just like apples and other just like oranges, and you can't really say which one is better.

And I will say this for baseball -- watching a baseball game when you're not a baseball fan is infinitely more interesting than watching a soccer game when you're not a soccer fan. At least you get to eat cotton candy and talk to people and take a bathroom break and wander around the baseball stadium during the many made-for-commercial breaks. A soccer game is a lot like the opera; people don't like it when you get in and out of your seat too many times because everyone's eyes are glued to the game and they don't want you to block their view. There's only 1 break, half-time, when everyone swarms to the concession stands or to the bathroom. No one leaves their seat or makes small talk with their neighbors (only people in the swanky corporate boxes do any socializing), so if you're not interested in the game you either have play videogames on your phone, fold your ticket stub into an origami crane, or leave.

(see, soccer *is* more interesting).

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