Baseball as a sport spends a lot of its time playing catch up. It used to be the national pastime but arguably it has lost that title to either the NBA, the NFL or NASCAR. It hasn’t captured the world’s attention in the same way that soccer has and even cricket has more global adherents (although that is admittedly due to its huge popularity in India and Pakistan).
I think a lot of it has to do with the habits of baseball players. It’s easy to relate to NASCAR because they’re the children of former booze-running outlaws. Add in it’s rowdy, beer-swilling redneck fanbase and you have a populist’s wet dream.
The NBA has a different kind of allure. It’s a mix of the hard-scrabble blacktop game along with the finesse and graceful elegance of of today’s elite players. Is there any other league that has more marijuana violations than the NBA? I’m guessing no and that reflects an America that has also grown more lenient towards the “devil weed.”
Baseball? You’ve got PED’s and frat boys drinking overpriced beer. That’s the America we laugh at, not the America we want to be part of. We like our sports to have a bit of an edge. The reason people hate Mark Sanchez isn’t because he’s a sub-par quarterback with a questionable work ethic. We’d put up with that if he inspired us. But he spends more time posing for magazines than he does winning football games. Yes, I know he’s led his team to the AFC Championship game twice but I think we can all agree that it wasn’t so much that he led them as it was him following them there.
Baseball right now is kind of like Mark Sanchez. It doesn’t have the edge. It doesn’t make you believe. That’s why it’s fun to hate the Yankees but its so much more fun to hate the Heat. My solution? Bring back Manny and give him lots of weed.
As electoral campaigns get rolling and as the candidates feel a need to distinguish themselves, the quotes become more and more interesting. Sure, there is the obvious craziness of Newt Gingrich and his moonbases but that’s just a drop in the bucket. You expect that sort of thing from a bipolar former Speaker of the House.
But what about Rick Santorum’s pledge to ban pornography in the United States? Number one, anyone who feels this strongly about so many “vices” must have a real problem. Has he even heard of Mark Foley or Ted Haggard? Number two, the states that most support Santorum, the so-called “Red States” who revel in their religiosity, also happen to be the largest consumers of porn. Are you really going to tell me that they’ll let Mr. Santorum take away their dirty little secret?
Finally, how would you even go about doing away with porn? Are you going to start censoring the internet and blocking sites that you consider “morally reprehensible”? The only place I’ve ever visited where they’ve been even moderately successful with this approach is Saudi Arabia. I don’t exactly see that as a model for the US. Besides, you’re going to have about as much luck banning porn in the US as MLB has had in banning PEDs from baseball. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and as long as boys and ballplayers are around, there will always be a will to access porn and PEDs.
Luckily it’s not just Mr. Santorum who’s divorced from reality. In an effort to prove that he, too, is just a regular guy, Mitt Romney recently let us know that he loves sports just like us. In fact, he has “good friends” who own NASCAR and NFL teams. Now, I don’t know if Mr. Romney enjoys car racing or football but there’s a pretty major difference between enjoying sports and being friends with people who own the teams. If you can’t make that distinction, you probably ought to go back and audit Running for Office 101.
I realize that I’m being pretty hard on the Republicans here. But, since they’re the ones in the middle of a heated primary fight, they tend to also be the ones making the ridiculous statements. I’m sure Obama will come out with some of his own once the general election gets underway but for now, he can just sit back and let the other side say what they want. Sounds like a plan to me. Moonbases and porn and franchises, oh my!
Both my co-blogger and I are fond of running. It’s a great way to stay in shape and clear your mind at the end of a long day or even longer week. But it has its dangers:
Running, despite it’s bloody nipples and shin splints, is generally safe. If you want to get really serious about injuries, just look at football, basketball and hockey. I winced this past Sunday as Austin Collie took a cheap shot to the head and felt a little sick as the play was reviewed multiple times while he was strapped down and carted off the field. That’s no joke.
In fact, it really seems that baseball has the least amount of catastrophic injuries when it comes to major sports. Sure, pitchers undergo an unenviable amount of wear and tear but when injuries arise, it’s usually the result of chronic, repetitive motion as opposed to some sort of instantaneous blowout like you see in football or hockey.
Obviously much of this lack of catastrophic injury comes from the fact that there is very little person to person contact in baseball. When players collide, it’s usually an accident. Or the Mets attempting to play the outfield. Football and other sports demand a level of violence that baseball just doesn’t approach.
Maybe this also explains baseball’s unfortunate drop in popularity. What used to be our national pastime has not only fallen behind NASCAR in viewership, it has also become a sport where we rarely compete for the top place. Sure, we’ll always play in the World Baseball Classic but that’s mainly because so few countries can even field teams. Clearly we can’t compete at the same level as the Japanese, the Dominicans or even our own territory, Puerto Rico.
Maybe it says more about us as a country, though, that we prefer sports ruled by mindlessness and brutishness to sports like baseball and running where the mental aspect is almost as important as being able to physically perform. Or maybe it just illustrates how we feel about bloody nipples.