Baseball and Tea Parties

The baseball playoffs are upon us, which means that most of the sports media are consumed with baseball talk. I find this faintly annoying, as I’m not really a fan of baseball. And, really, I can’t be a fan of baseball, for the same reason that I can’t be a conservative Republican activist– I don’t have the mental circuitry necessary to passionately believe self-contradictory things.

For example, being a baseball fan apparently requires one to simultaneously believe that a four-and-a-half hour game three hours of which are just players standing around scratching themselves is part of the beauty and natural flow of the sport, but the idea of using instant replay to correct blown fair/foul calls is completely outrageous because it would slow games down too much.

Also, being a baseball fan apparently requires one to simultaneously believe that it is completely outrageous for the season to run so late that they have to play playoff games in cold weather, and also that a best-of-five series in the first round is too short to really choose a winner.

If you think about it, are those really any less contradictory than simultaneously believing that a government-run health care plan would be a complete catastrophe, and anybody who tries to mess with Medicare is in for a world of hurt? I think there’s probably something very similar going on in the brains of baseball fans and “Tea Party” shouters. Some cognitive science type should do some MRI scans to check it out…

Comments

  1. #1 Woody Tanaka
    October 13, 2009

    LOL. You could have saved yourself a lot of time by simply writing, “I am too ADD-addled and ill informed to comment intelligently on baseball.” It’s okay if you don’t have what it takes to appreciate the game, not everyone does. Afterall, professional wrestling has to get its fans from somewhere.

  2. #2 JT
    October 13, 2009

    Your argument about pacing is valid compared to, say, basketball. But you seem to be a football fan, and football isn’t really that much more fast paced than baseball.

    (I’m not a real baseball fan, really. Just wanted to mention that.)

  3. #3 Dave Gill
    October 13, 2009

    Unfortunately, most of the evils you cite (correctly, IMHO) are foisted upon the fans by network TV (except the instant replay thing). TV destroys the pace of the game more than what goes on on the field. It has demanded additional rounds of playoffs dragging the season into November. And it puts the games on so late that I seldom see the end – even when it was my team playing. Unfortunately the NFL is guilty of the same thing with its evening football… and TV timeouts… and ….

  4. #4 Chad Orzel
    October 13, 2009

    Your argument about pacing is valid compared to, say, basketball. But you seem to be a football fan, and football isn’t really that much more fast paced than baseball.

    Football has more standing around than basketball or rugby, but the action/standing ratio is still higher than baseball. I think golf and cricket are the only sports with lower action/standing (well, walking, in the case of golf) ratios than baseball.

    Football also makes up for the slow bits with good old ultraviolence. That counts for something.

  5. #5 Umlud
    October 13, 2009

    Chad, as we enter into winter, you have left out a major sporting pastime in Canada and Scotland: curling. Talk about standing around.

    Or what about that sport that always seems to be on FSN or EPSN2: Poker. True, there’s not much standing around, but it’s the only thing that I find on sporting channels that makes competitive bass fishing riveting to watch.

    Perhaps cognitive science should do analyses on the people who feel that poker should be on a sports channel.

  6. #6 Umlud
    October 13, 2009

    oh, and Dave Gill (or anyone), is it just my faulty memory or do I recall how much of a travail it was for the playoffs to be postponed in 2001 due to 9/11, and the World Series to be played in October? That wasn’t that long ago, either… The timing of baseball season (and post-season) could be an interesting study for someone with more time for procrastination than me to undertake…

  7. #7 Dan Miller
    October 13, 2009

    This from a man who wrote a whole chapter on wave-particle duality.

  8. #8 Chad Orzel
    October 13, 2009

    Particles and waves aren’t contradictory, they’re complementary. Just ask Niels Bohr…

  9. #9 rob
    October 13, 2009

    since pro sports stadiums are publicly funded, does this make every sports fan a socialist?

  10. #10 Andrea
    October 13, 2009

    Umlud, you are remembering wrong. The World Series has always been played in October; 9/11 pushed it into November.

    Chad, I’m sure there are some baseball fans who do believe all the things you say, but it’s not universal; there’s a sizeable population that’s not happy with the wild-card system and the corresponding extended playoffs, with interleague play, or with any other recent changes to the game.

  11. #11 Eric Lund
    October 13, 2009

    Umlud, you are remembering wrong. The World Series has always been played in October; 9/11 pushed it into November.

    The World Series has taken place in November on one other occasion: the 1989 earthquake, which occurred during the World Series, caused several games to be postponed. A reasonable call, since both teams were from the Bay Area (the Giants and the A’s), and playing baseball outdoors in November is not as unreasonable in California as it is in Chicago or Boston.

    there’s a sizeable population that’s not happy with the wild-card system and the corresponding extended playoffs, with interleague play, or with any other recent changes to the game.

    You can even find people who think the Designated Hitter rule is a bad idea (the National League still does not use the DH), and with a little more effort, you can find people bemoaning the introduction of the League Championship Series in 1969. (Before 1969, the World Series *was* the playoffs; the team with the best regular season record in each league was declared the league champion.)

  12. #12 Josh S.
    October 13, 2009

    It’s easy to show contradictions in someone’s arguments if you don’t feel compelled to convey them accurately. Either that, or you really don’t listen too hard to the baseball talk.

  13. #13 DrYak
    October 13, 2009

    Have to agree with you on the baseball but you are wrong about the comparison to cricket. Even in a 5-day test there is a far better ratio of action to standing around than at baseball and in the 50-over and (especially) new Twenty20 formats then there is literally no comparison.

  14. #14 CCPhysicist
    October 14, 2009

    Yeah, there is no “taking a pitch” in cricket!

    We recently got the NFL network added to the “free” part of our cable system, and it is interesting to watch one of their replays of a game. The edit out dead parts of each play, so some snaps are just seconds apart, but fill in other gaps with detailed replays from the NFL Films video that was not part of the broadcast plus relevant snips about a particular play from post-game interviews. This cuts the game down to under 2 hours. Baseball would fit in less time even if you showed every pitch.

    As for replays, a different team would be losing in the playoffs if they did a replay on some strikes I’ve seen called this year. Sheesh. Looked like a college umpire calling it when it reached the corner of the white line of the batter’s box.

  15. #15 Comrade PhysioProf
    October 14, 2009

    D00d, what *don’t* you find faintly annoying?

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