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This Sunday, we finally get what many of us, hopefully, have been waiting for: baseball. Opening day is upon us, and although it isn’t a national holiday, it damn well should be. While baseball isn’t for everyone, the national pastime is still thriving, hence why this offseason Giancarlo Stanton and Max Scherzer received contracts that make them rich enough to buy their own islands. Not only is MLB still bringing in the big bucks, but the game itself is still extremely compelling. The competitive parity in baseball surpasses the other professional sports, especially the NBA, where you can begin a season knowing at least 5-8 teams have zero chance of even making the playoffs. Baseball, on the other hand, has been full of worst to first stories, and to begin the season, anyone has a shot to win it all. Except the Phillies. The Phillies are going to be fucking horrendous.
If you’ve never really given baseball a shot, or if you’ve fallen out of love with the game because of whatever reason (as long as that reason isn’t “too many steroids,” because don’t pretend like you didn’t enjoy watching Barry Bonds hit moonshots while that shit was going on), take the time this summer to give it a good look again. Shit, at the minimum you need something to get you to football season. Your bracket is already busted, and you can’t name more than five college basketball players anyways.
As far as the NBA goes, your favorite team’s chances of winning are low, considering that nine teams have won a title in the last 30 years, and face it, you’re tired of watching LeBron’s hairline get mentioned on ESPN. I can’t speak ill of hockey because the only hockey I watch is when “Miracle” comes on TV, but regardless, baseball is the way to go in the summer.
Look, I know baseball isn’t the sexiest sport out there anymore. It gets less and less ESPN coverage, and we’ve all heard the complaints about the lack of action and pace of play. Now I may be biased (I’m extremely biased), but baseball has a lot to offer a postgrad sports fan, even if you may not have even been a casual fan when younger.
For starters, a baseball game is a great place for a night out with friends, a casual business outing with coworkers or clients, and there are baseball stadiums everywhere. There are 30 MLB teams and hundreds of minor league teams all over the country. If you don’t live decently close to any sort of professional baseball team, you’re probably reading this over satellite internet in the fucking boonies. Baseball games are a great place to kick back, drink some beer, and relax without a million lunatics screaming for two to three hours. Plus, the MLB, and even some of the MLB venues, are easy on the wallet, whereas NBA or NFL tickets sometimes can wreck your monthly budget just to take a few friends to a game.
With baseball, there’s a favorite player for everyone. You want your highly regarded stud athletes? They aren’t all playing football or basketball. Just look at Mike Trout and the aforementioned Giancarlo Stanton. These thoroughbreds can be more exciting to watch than a DEA raid at the Lohan residence. You want your interesting characters? Take a look at Evan Gattis. Guy can hit the ball a mile, looks like a mountain man, and has a hell of a life story. Finally, you want a MLB player that any guy can relate with and root for? Congratulations, you’re now a fan of big fat Bartolo Colon.
How many other sports have a guy who is extremely successful but also looks like he is in extremely poor health and just slammed $25 worth of Taco Bell? It’s a game with someone and something for everyone. You can watch an NBA game and think, “Wow these guys are insanely athletic, I could never do that,” or you can watch a MLB game and say, “Wow, look at that fat bastard on the mound. Good for him.”
Picking up some baseball is a great way to keep the water cooler talk on sports without talking about the same stuff all NFL offseason. There are only so many times you can talk about various offseason arrests, contract disputes, and strippers/porn stars taken down by Gronk before it all gets a little repetitive. And don’t think that just because the NFL and NBA have all the interesting arrest headlines that MLB isn’t holding its own with story lines involving players being complete shitbags. You’re always seconds away from a big name PED bust, and last time I checked, the other pro sports didn’t have a guy getting investigated for gambling in spring training. You can even get a fantasy league going with your friends as another way to keep in touch and remind you all how much shit you can talk in a week to a guy you haven’t seen in ages.
Regardless of your reason, I encourage you to go out and experience America’s pastime this summer, and start by skipping work to go see a day game..