As every baseball fan knows, it will only be a matter of time before a non-fan issues the following statement: “Baseball is so boring. Why do you like it?” Usually these non-fans have already made up their mind as to how much they don’t like the sport that America calls its own. Doing so leaves them blind to the true excitement baseball holds hidden among the dust and chalk.
Not many sports – or chances in life – give the opportunity for a one-on-one battle. It is the true test of skill on both sides of the ball. The pitcher is giving his best while the hitter is simultaneously doing the same thing. The simplicity of the battle gives the chance for something more exciting than in any other sport. One man stands in front of another man holding a club, 60 feet away, and tries to throw a baseball by him. In what other sport are the skills of one player in direct contest with another? None.
Also, take into consideration how difficult the sport is. A batter that gets a hit three out of ten times – meaning he fails the other seven – is considered a superstar. One that only fails six out of ten times is considered a legend, a feat so difficult it hasn’t been done in 60 years. In any other sport, failing that often would be laughable. If a field goal kicker missed 70% of the time he would be replaced instantaneously. Although the difficulty of the game does not necessarily mean it is more exciting to watch, it certainly helps to make a fan appreciate when a hitter gets on base.
Baseball also offers a unique chance for the viewer to take part in the experience of the game. Keeping score in a baseball game, tracking what each hitter does, is a time-honored tradition. It allows a fan follow every pitch, no matter the result is. It is fairly easy to do and immediately transforms someone at the stadium from fan into a part of the game. The only difficulty in keeping score is remembering to do so when the games get very exciting.
Finally, there are few things more exciting in sports than the end of a close baseball game. Because there is no clock, close games often come down to the final out. True, the end of a timed game like football can be exciting, but those games don’t happen often enough. Watching a favorite team come back late in a baseball game from a few runs down is exciting enough; seeing them win in the bottom of the ninth is enough to send a stadium into hysterics. A homerun to win a game happens often enough to have been given its own term in the baseball lexicon: a walkoff.
True, to a non-fan America’s favorite game can seem a touch slow. This, however, could not be further from the truth. The game of baseball is as exciting as any other sport. The excitement is subtle but it is there. It’s just waiting to be found, appreciated, and experienced.