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Sports Column: Calling a Foul on Baseball

By Dirk Hildebrand

The term “overrated” in today’s culture usually refers to when the success or accomplishments of a person, place or thing are vastly overestimated, over praised, or exaggerated. The term has been used to describe anything from players in various sports, the impact of certain cities, or even the success of social movements and trends. A perfect example of “overrated” is the popularity of baseball in the United States. The sport itself requires less talent than other sports, is too long and boring for viewers, and seasons are drawn out too long with too many games to stay interesting. In the case of baseball, “overrated” is an understatement.

Baseball has long been considered one of America’s sports. Starting at a young age baseball can become a staple in a child’s life from their very early years. Little League baseball, and even earlier, Tee-ball, have become symbols of American childhood from the hotdogs to that perfect hit between the outfielders. The rules of the game make it perfect for younger kids due to its simplicity of hitting a ball and the other team trying to catch the ball and tap the runner before they reach one of three bases. 

However, at a higher level, the excitement of the ball game falls short. Disregarding the pitcher, who probably requires the most skill, the game consists of running, hitting, and throwing. Running does not require much skill as we as humans do this every day, and throwing and catching comes naturally through hand-eye coordination in practice and playing the sport. Hitting is the only skill that would require the most training while other sports require much more talent. 

Football has individual positions with different jobs that change based on situation and play, each with their own skills, and games like tennis and golf require a lot of precise movements to get the ball to go where they want and get it there in a specific way. Baseball has very little preciseness other than the pitching job. 

With the ease of the game many situations involve airballs from an outfieldsman without any action, usually coming after a string of foul balls and strikes. Too often are there moments of waiting for something exciting to happen, and then falling short when an airball results in an out. 

Even when it would seem that an exciting moment is about to unfold, usually it is after an out or two, and these moments might not be able to occur which leads to disappointment in the audience. If a pitcher is good at what they do then innings may consist of only strikeouts and entire stretches of no excitement for the audience. Pair a boring game with a season of over a hundred games, nine innings, and 3 outs per top/bottom of an inning, and you are in for a long arduous season with long stretches of no excitement, too many games to be excited for, and games that can be anywhere from an hour to three hours. 

This lack of consistency pushes a lot of viewers away for the fear of the games taking up too much or too little time to be worth it, or whether the short amount of times where action does occur is worth paying large amounts of money to view a game, when arguably the game is better watched on TV with the closeup shots of placement for pitching. 

“Overrated” is usually used to describe something controversial, but in the case of baseball the only word to describe the easy-to-play, slow, boring and long season is just that. Overrated.

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