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Baseball? Boring? For me World Series is still must-see TV

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Baseball is boring.

 

I’d rather listen to Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman address the media than watch a baseball game. The game takes forever.

 

So much standing around, too little action.

 

These are not my sentiments. I love baseball. I took in as much of the World Series as I could. But I was surprised at how many callers to a local sports radio show said they completed ignored the Fall Classic.

 

I’ll admit, I didn’t watch the MLB playoffs, but I was all over the World Series. So were my wife and daughter. We cheered for the Kansas City Royals and their fantastic David versus Goliath journey through the playoffs.

 

Unfortunately, the Royals fell just a little short. Two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7 and a man on third base. The next batter popped out and the Giants won their third World Series in the past five years.  That’s a pretty impressive accomplishment. The Royals magic ran out. As a Cubs fan, the Royals give me hope.

 

I don’t remember ever missing a World Series. But many people, fans who enjoy a variety of college and professional sports, have little or no interest.

 

There was a time, during baseball’s heyday, that no one missed the Series. It was must-see TV. Oh, how times have changed.

 

Of course, baseball was a different game then. Some players stayed with one team their entire career and the stars were more recognizable. Performance enhancing drugs had yet to poison the game, and the marketing machines that propelled the NBA and NHL into the stratosphere were not around.

 

Kids played baseball—lots of baseball. Not in organized leagues or on travel teams, but in parks and on street corners. If there weren’t enough people around to field team, a game of fast pitch was always an option. Boys mimicked the windups of their favorite pitchers and batting stances of the sluggers they idolized.

 

Back then, Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine was as dangerous as they came. Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and George Foster were fearsome. Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s were equally good during that era, winning the AL West five times in a row as well and the World Series in 1972, ’73 and ’74. The Yankees, it seems, were always competitive.

 

Today, football and basketball dominate the sports landscape. Pro football is available Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays and is hyped seven days a week. It’s action-packed, it’s violent, we bet on the games. An NFL Sunday starts with pregame shows around breakfast time and ends with a night game 12 hours later. College football doesn’t lag far behind, and in some parts of the country, the college game is king.

 

The NBA is a star-driven league. The top players don’t need a last name. Kobe, LeBron, Michael, KG, Magic. The game is fast-paced—a combination of thrilling slam dunks and three-point shots. Fans love the high-flying athletic feats of the players. Former Commissioner David Stern was a genius by linking the league with popular music, fashion and celebrities.

 

But the NBA also is a playoff-driven league. It’s a fair assumption that the Chicago Bulls will at least make the playoffs. How they do when they get there is another matter. For the most part, though, the top teams win championships. That’s not always the case in baseball.

 

Knock baseball all you want, but there’s no better game, especially during the playoffs and World Series. I enjoy football and basketball and love hockey, but nothing is quiet like baseball.

 

Want proof? Try following a team during a playoff push in the late summer.

 

Every game matters. Basketball and hockey can’t say that. You begin to scoreboard watch, hoping the team immediately ahead or behind yours drops in the standings. The race teeters and totters until the big weekend series between the top two teams. Something is on the line every game.

 

The playoffs, of course, are even more intense. The wild card teams play a single game for the right to move on. The next series is best-of-five, which leaves little margin for error. Hockey playoffs are more of a grind—winning four, best-of-seven series are needed to hoist the Stanley Cup.

 

But baseball is pure drama. There are games within the game. The strategies played out by the managers. Pinch hitting, pinch running, changing pitchers. A team like the Royals found success by getting a lead by the sixth inning and then turning the game over to the best bullpen in the major leagues. It’s a strategy that took them to the World Series.

 

Of course, that bullpen played no role in Game 7 of the World Series because the Giants pitcher, a starter who was used in spot relief duty, was nearly unhittable.

 

The Giants lost Game 6 of the Series, 10-0, and won the Game 7, 3-2. That’s the beauty of the baseball.

 

I once heard a pitcher who had a significant amount of playoff and World Series experience explain that in those high-intensity games, every pitch is important. Imagine the pressure. Games can turn on a single pitch. Basketball and hockey games have shifts in momentum, which can play a role on the outcome.

 

That’s not same as a game changing on a single pitch, a single swing of the bat. Just ask Bill Mazerowski and Joe Carter.

 

If you don’t know who they are, you probably think baseball is boring, too.