I'm going to take a break from the breaking down the Bulls / Timberwolves game. If you didn't see it, imagine that you did see it, think what would have likely happened in a game where a team on pace to win 60 games plays a team on pace to win 20 games. What you imagine is likely pretty close to the truth.
So the topic came up recently on a forum I read regularly, why is there so much sports radio talk about baseball. The season hasn't started, nothing's going on, the sport (my opinion only) is boring as hell. No, it's not a conspiracy against us basketball fans, the general public loves baseball. Sports radio plays what people want to hear.
The sad fact for me is that the public would rather here about the Nth day of spring training where nothing has happened than about your playoff bound Chicago Bulls that might have the MVP and a shot at winning the NBA Championship. Heck, I don't blame them. I'd rather hear about preseason NBA talk than hear about the Cubs playoff hopes or the fact that the Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup.
We like what we like, and I'm not trying to dissuade anyone from liking baseball, hockey, or whatever else they're into. What you do with your free time is your business, and if it makes you happy then it's the right thing for you. Personal choice, there is no right and wrong here.
That said, I noted why I don't care for baseball, much to the great dismay of baseball fans. In what is sure to be a colossal mistake which alienates half my readership who love multiple sports, I will repeat such opinion here and prepare for the fireworks.
Baseball is the least visually spectacular sport of any major professional sport.
The pace of the game is slow, and there's a ton of down time, and for the most part there aren't a ton of action packed moments. There are visually spectacular plays in baseball, the diving catch, the saving of a home run by leaping the fence, the bang, bang of a double play, a steal or whatever.
However, the amount of visually spectacular plays are limited. You could go multiple games without seeing a truly great athletic play. There is the most downtime in the sport of all the major sports in terms of waiting around for something to happen as well.
No one really seemed to argue too much with this point. Baseball's a fun game to go to the stadium for largely for this reason too. You can really socialize through a baseball game, because you don't actually need to pay all that much attention during a game.
If you think about how many seconds a ball is actually in play in a baseball game out of the 3 hours you're there, it's by far the least amount of time of any sporting event you'd go to. That has plenty of advantages, because you can be into the game, but still have plenty of time to chat it up with your buddies, go get some beer, and hang out.
Baseball is the least strategic of the major professional team sports
This is where I seemed to get into trouble and piss everyone off.
First, let me define major by saying I will compare it to basketball and football which I know is limited. You could include soccer and hockey in 'major' sports, but since I don't know all that much about the strategy contained in either soccer or hockey, I'm not going to pretend to guess as to how much depth there relative to any other sport.
Now, next let me say this, every baseball manager, like every coach/manager of any sport of professional athlete needs a tremendous skillset in terms of reaching his players, managing egos, understanding his sport, instilling good habits, etc.. Having a good manager vs a bad manager is still incredibly valuable in any major sport.
That said, you could write a simple situation guide cheat sheet that could walk you through every major baseball decision, hand it off to someone who's never seen the game in his life, and they'd be able to competently manage a game. There simply isn't that much thought involved here.
Defense is entirely passive
There's basically one defensive set in baseball. Three guys in the outfield, four guys in the infield, a pitcher and a catcher. That's it. No one ever shifts a fourth guy to the outfield or brings in another infielder. At best, these guys shift slightly up or back or to one side based on the hitter.
There is very little feigning of the defense either. You don't pretend to play back on a player than charge up in order to try and fool the hitter into doing something else. You can't bring extra defenders in against a team's best guy at the cost of leaving their ninth hitter to bat with seven men in the field.
You can't control the defensive matchup in baseball outside of switch pitchers, which you can only do a very limited number of times. You can't put a hot defender on a star player. The ball either goes to your hot defensive player when hit or it doesn't. You can make some substitutions for defense, but only in a very limited manner as you can't sub guys in and out.
The permanence of each substitution makes them fairly rare and highly situational, because your starters are typically better. You're not subbing in a defender when a star player comes to the plate unless you're late in the game protecting a lead.
Sure, there's plenty of strategy in how you pitch a guy. A pitcher needs to decide how to mix in his pitches to fool the hitter or whether to blow him away with power. However, this is basically an individual matchup until the ball is in play.
The same type of feigning exists in basketball with every dribble of the ball. Am I going left, right, pulling up, driving past you, mixing up the dribble speed to fake one way or the other and switch gears. All designed to get a defender off balance for the split second needed to break free. The defender can choose to play the drive or the shot much like a hitter can choose whether to sit on a fast ball or not.
However, unlike baseball the point of attack goes beyond a one on one match up of pitcher vs hitter. In basketball, the whole team gets involved. The defense can bring a second player in to double team and trap. They can try to deny the ball to the star with their coverage scheme. They can drop into a zone to prevent a player from driving.
Offense is also largely passive
On offense you can't milk a hot matchup, exploit defensive shifts, go to your star player more, or design any real scheme. The majority of the offensive strategy is based around how you stack your lineup pregame with lefty/righty matchups against the opposing pitcher. However, you can't really change these around much because the guys can't come back in after sitting.
In the American League (and I'm a sox fan as much as I'm a baseball fan) the strategy is almost completely taken away from the manager as you don't even have to strategize around when to pull your pitcher because he has a plate appearance or whether to use a double switch etc..
However, there's simply very little going on that requires much input or knowledge.
Think I'm nuts? Look at the money
In life, if you aren't sure of something, a good way to be sure is to follow the money. You know why? Because smart people usually put money where it counts, and while an individual can screw up badly in this regard, when it's everyone, it's not a screw up.
Baseball doesn't pay managers all that well relative to the coaches of other sports. The NFL and NBA both pay their coaches more. Now, the NFL makes a truckload more money, but I don't think anyone is arguing that MLB or NBA manager/coaches have the impact of an NFL coach.
However, even in basketball, despite franchise revenues being dramatically lower than in baseball, they allocate far more resources towards their coaches than MLB does. This is simply because a great coach in basketball can impact the game more than a great manager in baseball.
A coach can do that, because there is greater depth of strategy involved in the sport, there is more control, more impact on the game, more things they can do. So realize, that if you're arguing that I'm wrong, you're also arguing against the baseball franchise owners who simply don't value their managers as much as the other sports value their coaches when value is put down to the percentage of revenues spent on the position.
This isn't to say you should hate baseball
Many of us grew up with baseball. I grew up with baseball. I enjoyed playing catch when I was a child. Loved it. You could play baseball or some variant of it from a very, very young age. I was probably two years old when the plastic bat was put into my hands.
Basketball? Football? Not so much. They aren't as ingrained into our society. There are many fond memories I have growing up playing baseball with my dad, playing catch, taking batting practice, hitting the batting cages. Probably the most fond memories I have with him are centered around baseball.
I'm not trying to diss the game entirely and write it off as there are many things to enjoy about it, but most of those (for me) are social. If I'm sitting alone watching sports by myself, it doesn't do it for me on a visual or intellectual level to watch baseball unless I'm heavily vested in the team I'm watching. Basketball? I can sit and watch it no matter who's playing, the sport just interests me.
Flame away. I know I've got it coming.