We hate baseball.

November 9, 2021 — by Atrey Desai and Viraaj Reddi
Photo by Anjali Pai
Who decided to make baseball an important sport when it’s, almost by definition, a boring sport?

Baseball is often referred to as America’s pastime, our nation’s most beloved sport. But if you ask us, baseball is possibly the most overrated sport in history. 

The problem starts with the rules, which create a sport that lacks variety. A pitcher throws a ball; a batter hits the ball and has to run as fast as possible around the bases before the defense gets the ball. 

The potential for creativity, compared to other sports, is so limited that we resign ourselves to seeing the same play over and over again. Pitchers repeat the same moves in curveballs, fastballs, changeups; batters only have so many directions to hit; and, in running the bases, there’s only one path that players follow. When was the last time we saw something new, something completely innovative in baseball? Too long ago to remember. 

Repetitive action is bad enough, but even worse is that the plays themselves are boring and often have little action. Hitters getting hits three times out of 10 are the pinnacle of the sport. If this is the best baseball has to offer, it’s no wonder that nobody watches this godforsaken sport. Miss. Miss. Miss. Miss. Hit. Miss again. You spend 10 minutes of your day watching a man miss the ball over and over again, and this is supposed to be entertaining. Was it worth it? 

And what about those darn pauses? Many people complain about the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) multiple timeouts in the 4th quarter, but according to a 2013 Wall Street Journal study, the dead time between baseball pitches averaged 1 hour, 14 minutes and 49 seconds per game. That’s a lot of boring dead time.

Contrasting the NBA’s salary cap of $112.414 million, Major League Baseball (MLB) doesn’t have a salary cap, meaning the richer — and often more desirable — teams will attract better players, and ultimately win more. 

Success for the richest teams like the Dodgers and Yankees is essentially guaranteed. Last year in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns, who didn’t even make the playoffs the previous season, made it to the finals. Something like that rarely happens in baseball, simply because the best talent is usually going to the teams that pay the most money. (There are some notable exceptions such as the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland A’s, which have sported highly competitive teams despite low payrolls. Note, however, that Oakland hasn’t won a World Series since 1989 and the Rays have never won one.)

Half the time, we aren’t even watching baseball — we watch the never-ending stream of commercials. While commercials are a major part of all pro sports aired on TV, baseball takes it to the next level. During the game, there is at least one ad at the bottom of the screen at all times. During breaks in play, there might be another popup ad or a general commercial break. 

Even when going to a game, it’s never the central focus. No one goes to a baseball game to actually watch baseball — they’ll go to enjoy a good time with their friends, to eat a hot dog and to chill. The game is background filler, something to pay attention to only when there’s a lull in the conversation. This practice reinforces the idea that baseball is quite literally the lowest priority, only turned to as a last resort conversation topic.

And the data seem to be on our side too: Baseball ratings have been dropping steadily for decades. Although this year’s ratings were relatively high, last year’s World Series averaged just 9.8 million viewers, a more than 30 percent drop from 2019 and the lowest-rated World Series on record. While the pandemic may have played a part in lower engagement, similar leagues, like the NBA, saw a smaller decline of just 10 percent.   

When it comes down to it, baseball is just an abysmal sport for both play and watch. When the game is on TV, you’re either subjected to an absurd number of painful misses and extended pauses or commercials that repeatedly test your patience. Even when you attend a game in person, the playoffs are the last thing you pay attention to. Fundamentally, baseball has nothing going for it — so why, as a nation, do we still accept it as a top sport?

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