As those with even a passing interest in professional sports are aware, the 2008 baseball season ended this week with a whimper, as the Phillies eliminated the Devil Rays for the title causing but a blip on the national sports scene. The television ratings for this particular World Series were historically low, prompting speculation from sports pundits over why people didn’t seem to want to watch baseball. Leaving aside the fact that there was a war, an election, a financial crisis, and a much better sport (football) to distract from “America’s Game”, I have a unique theory to explain the low ratings: baseball has become a fundamentally unattractive game.
This not to say that baseball players are not highly trained athletes with superlative hand-eye coordination who can throw, hit, and field exceptionally well. Nor is the claim that baseball is inherently unwatchable. But let’s be honest – there can be no good reason why I would willingly subject myself to over three hours of television looking at nothing but paunchy men in unreasonably tight uniforms play catch with one another as they are “managed” (one of the worst titles and easiest jobs in all of sports) by older former athletes also (inexplicably) in form-fitting regalia.
And my god, the spitting. There must be some kind of medical condition prevalent only among those who spend an inordinate amount of time around ash and leather, where the sputum levels become more than the body can possibly contain. What other feasible explanation can there be for spitting six times in ten seconds during one break between pitches? I could understand this level of slobber if players still chewed tobacco (which a few still do). But though the lion’s share of players gave up that foul tradition some time ago, they clung to the equally foul habits that go along with it.
Let me guide you through the process that is one pitch during a baseball game:
Batter: (spits, pauses, spits again, undoes and redoes batting gloves, spits onto his gloves and rubs his hands together, adjusts his helmet, spits again, and steps into batters box)
Catcher: (puts his hand on his crotch and wiggles his index finger)
Pitcher: (shakes his head)
Catcher: (wiggles different fingers)
Pitcher: (nods, sets and delivers pitch)
In the event that the batter then gets a hit, this is celebrated with much clapping and subsequently spitting in the dugout (which is an absolutely filthy place, littered with trash and saliva) and in the event that he gets out, this is met with some disgruntled expectoration.
When I was much younger I used to listed to John Sterling and Michael Kay deliver the Yankees radio broadcasts for years. I consider myself a casual baseball fan, but I find the broadcasts of games to be one the only times I regret having a large HD television. Some games were made to be enjoyed from a few hundred feet away.